Harvesting and Storing Cucumbers

When To Harvest Cucumbers

Cucumbers are at their best when they are dark green, firm, and of moderate size; for pickle type cucumbers pick when they are 3 inches long and for the slicing cucumbers pick when they are about 5 to 8 inches long. It is very important to pick the fruit as it matures. If you let just one fruit get overripe and begin turning yellow and tough, the plant will stop producing more fruit. Continuous picking actually increases a vine's production. The harvest period for cucumbers lasts for 4 to 6 weeks, so avoid damaging the vines when picking. It’s best to cut or clip the cuke from the plant with a knife or scissors, rather than twisting or pulling it off. Leave a bit of stem when you clip, to minimize water loss from the plant. The best harvest time is morning. One trick is to pinch off the ends of vines about two or even three weeks before the first frost is expected. This will allow the fruit that is already formed to reach maturity before that deadly frost kills the plant

Storing Cucumbers

Cucumbers keep best in a cool, moist environment with temperatures ranging from 40°F to 50°F and a humidity of 95 percent. Refrigerate them in plastic bags. They will keep for 5 or even 10 days, but they lose their garden crispness after five days. Whole cucumbers do not freeze well; they turn mushy when thawed. However, you can peel them, cut them up, and then freeze them. You can also grate or puree the chunks and freeze the result. Or, try baking fresh cuke slices at 450° F for 30 minutes before freezing them.

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