The ever-versatile cucumber is a great staple to have in your fridge, whether it’s for snacking, putting into salads, or adding to other recipes. But the problem with those crunchy cukes is how fast they can go bad.
Nothing is grosser to find in your fridge crisper bin than a soggy, decomposing cucumber you thought you’d just purchased. But it turns out that how you store your cucumbers can have a major effect on their taste and texture days after you get them. Experts differ in what they think are the best methods to keep cucumbers freshest, so it’s best to see what works well in your environment, with the tools you have available to you.
Here are a few tips on how to store cucumbers so they last longer.
Pick Your Cucumbers Carefully
The type of cucumber you use also affect its longevity. Kirby cucumbers and English cucumbers last longer than Persian cucumbers and other more thin-skinned cucumbers, experts told Martha Stewart.
Give your cucumbers a wash with soap and water to remove dirt and germs and dry them completely. You’ll also want to store them whole and not pre-sliced to get the most life out of them.
Keep Them In Your Fridge
While you may like the taste of a room-temperature cucumber, this veggie (which is botanically classified as a fruit) will last much longer in your refrigerator.
Kitchn did a detailed test on various methods for how to store cucumbers to compare which was the most effective. The refrigerator method was preferable, with some tweaks insuring longevity. So, if you’re not going to eat your cukes within a few days, this is the way to go.
Experts differ on their opinion of whether you should keep cucumbers stored in your crisper/veggie bin or on a refrigerator shelf. If you forget about your produce when it’s in the crisper, the shelf is the way to go.
Wrap Them In Paper Towels
One key factor in how to store your cucumbers is keeping moisture away. Wetness can make your cucumbers go soggy faster.
To prevent this, wrap your cucumbers in paper towels. The towels wick away and absorb extra moisture that comes off your cucumbers as they sit in your fridge. Food52 notes that using paper towels inside an air-tight container is the best way to store cut cucumbers.
Contain Them In Plastic
An even better method, according to some experts, is to wrap your cucumber in a paper towel and put it in a resealable plastic storage bag.
The jury is out as to whether or not the bag should be sealed or left open. Some sources say air circulation can help keep the moisture level more stable. Epicurious thinks you should keep your baggie open or unsealed to prevent condensation.
Cooks Illustrated did a test, though, that found wrapping cucumbers tightly in plastic wrap lasted longer than placing them in baggies.
“The plastic wrap formed an airtight second skin, keeping moisture from leaving the fruit and nearly preventing moisture loss from occurring,” the publication said.
Freeze Your Cucumbers
Only freeze your cucumbers if you plan to use them in smoothies, gazpacho, cold soups or similar recipes. That’s because defrosting a cucumber leads to it going mushy.
“Cucumbers have a high water content, about 95%, and freezing them changes their texture dramatically,” writes EatingWell. “Rather than the crunchy, crisp texture that a fresh cucumber has, a frozen cucumber’s texture will be mushy.”
This may be an obvious point, but a really long-lasting idea on how to store cucumbers that predates refrigeration is pickling. If you pickle your cucumbers in a vinegar-type solution, they will last much longer than any of the other mentioned techniques above. Of course, it also creates a pickle. But those are tasty too.
Homemade pickled vegetables that aren’t canned can last up to four weeks. Canned and sealed pickles will last six months to a year.
A Metal Spoon?
One odd suggestion Kitchn incorporated is to stick a metal spoon in the baggie with a cucumber. The tester didn’t know what the origin of the technique was, and we couldn’t find a good answer, either.
“I have no idea why this method worked so well at keeping cucumbers fresh for so long and could find no explanation online,” The Kitchn tester wrote. “I’ll admit I was quite skeptical, but each day as I found the cucumbers to still be firm, fresh, and lovely, I became more of a believer.”
So, adding the spoon did appear to help the tested cucumbers stay fresh a little longer.
Try it for us and see, won’t you?