Cucumbers should, ideally, be stored at room temperature, which goes against the common knowledge of keeping them in the fridge. Instead of refrigerating them, however, you should keep them on the counter to keep them fresh and tasty for as long as possible.
Knowing how to store cucumbers isn’t really much of a science, but they are a tad different from many other vegetables, and they do require some amount of special care. You need to keep them away from certain other fruits and veggies you may have, for example.
We’ll explain everything there is to know about storing cucumbers in the following couple of sections: from preventing spoilage all the way to being able to tell if your cucumbers have already gone bad. Just scroll on ahead and you’ll be a veritable cucumber encyclopedia in no time at all!
Table of Contents
How to Store Cucumbers Properly
As we already established, cucumbers should not be refrigerated. They’re one of several different types of vegetables that are susceptible to so-called chilling injuries. Yes – those are precisely what you’d think they are. Instead, you should just keep them at room temperature.
According to experts, all variants of cucumber should ideally be kept at above 50°F (12.5°C) for maximum longevity. This means that any old pantry should do the trick. Alternatively, your cucumbers won’t suffer if you just leave them in a bowl in the kitchen.
Having said that, it’s worth pointing out that, in many cases, the cucumbers you buy in your supermarket may have been coated with food wax to keep them looking good for a while longer. Cucumbers treated this way may survive a few days in the fridge, if you really want to keep them cold and minty.
What Happens to Refrigerated Cucumbers?
Chilling injuries include (but may not be limited to) the development of water-soaked areas, pitting, and generally accelerated decay of the vegetable. Clearly, far from ideal.
In most cases, cucumbers should manage just fine if you leave them in the fridge for two or three days, but it’s highly unlikely you should expect a longer shelf life out of them. Note, too, that a refrigerated cucumber’s shelf life will also depend on its exact placement in the fridge.
If you really have to keep your cucumbers in the fridge, at least keep them towards the front of an upper shelf, as the lower shelves are usually the coldest sections of the fridge.
Is There a Way To Keep Cucumbers Fresh in The Fridge?
For those who just cannot bring themselves to keep cucumbers in the pantry, there is a way to get more mileage out of these veggies even after they’ve been refrigerated.
- Thoroughly clean your cucumber: make sure that there aren’t any soft or moldy spots, and that they’re properly washed
- Dry off any excess water, you can wrap them in a dish or paper towel to do so
- Store your wrapped-up cucumbers in a plastic bag, but make sure that there’s a little airflow available (to prevent condensation)
- Keep the cucumbers away from the coldest part of your fridge
Any old plastic bags should do the trick for this method. FoodSaver items should do a good job of keeping your cukes safe and sound, but again, keep them open.
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Alternatively, plastic food containers will be a fair choice, too.
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If you follow this procedure, your cucumbers should stay crispy and juicy for longer than they usually would. Again, this is not the ideal way of going about it, but it’s an option if you want or need it!
How Long Can Cucumbers be Safely Stored?
When stored at a temperature of about 55°F (13°C), cucumbers will – in most cases – last for about two weeks before going bad. If you’ve been keeping track of the article up until now, it will be obvious that refrigerated cucumbers won’t last nearly as long, with a shelf life of about four or five days instead, depending on the variety.
How To Tell If Cucumbers Have Gone Bad
As long as you know what a healthy cucumber looks like, it should be pretty easy to tell if your own cukes have gone bad. Look for discoloration and wrinkles: cucumbers should be smooth and firm to the touch. If they aren’t, then they’re old and most likely unsafe to eat.
On the extreme side of things, if your cucumbers have developed mold or have become slimy to the touch, just throw them out.
As a rule of thumb: squishy is bad, firm is good. It’s a good mantra to keep in mind with veggies in general (though to a point), and with cucumbers in particular.
Cucumber Storage Mistakes We’ve All Made!
Finally, we already hinted at some popular cucumber storage mistakes that are really easy to make if you don’t know what you’re about.
For example, did you know that cucumbers are extremely sensitive to ethylene? Ethylene is a naturally occurring gas that makes certain kinds of food ripen more quickly.
Bananas, tomatoes, melons… they all produce ethylene at a high rate, and you should always keep your cucumbers away from such vegetables and fruits, if you aim to store them for longer than a couple of days.
Similarly, if you only find yourself using a part of a big cucumber, there’s no need to throw the remaining bits away. You also don’t want to leave it as-is, because it’s going to go bad quickly. Instead, place the pieces (or even slices, for that matter) in a lidded container, and fill it with water!
Freezing cucumbers isn’t a stellar idea either, mind. Inevitably, your cukes will lose their crispness and texture, and they just won’t be what you might expect if you freeze them for months at a time.
Instead, you may want to look into preparing a variety of gazpachos or smoothies and freezing those. Naturally, you can’t exactly make a smoothie salad, but it’s one way of going about cucumber “storage”, that’s for sure.
Keep Your Cucumbers Fresh!
By now, you know all the basic beats of proper cucumber storage. There are more nuances to explore if you are so inclined, but the vast majority of readers are unlikely to need anything other than the advice we’ve provided here.
To that end, good luck with your cukes, now that you know how they work!