The right way to store cucumbers (so they don't turn to mush)

Learn how to keep your cucumbers fresh and crisp for as long as possible

Published July 29, 2021 11:59AM (EDT)

Cucumbers (Getty Images/Suthep Wongkhad)
Cucumbers (Getty Images/Suthep Wongkhad)

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Cucumbers are easy to find year-round, but they're really at their peak come summer (May through August). Once you get home from stocking up on them at the farm stand, grocery store, or even a grocery delivery service like Instacart, which you can shop here, it's important to know how to store cucumbers. If you take care of these green gems properly, they should last up to a week. Ahead, we're sharing our top tips for storing cucumbers the right way.

Shopping for cucumbers

Before you grab any cukes off the shelves (we're close enough that we can give them a nickname, right?), choose carefully. The best cucumbers will be pure green (not yellow) and have no soft spots. Any signs of wrinkles, shrinkage, or dimples signal that the cucumber is overripe. Overripe or rotten cucumbers will have a sour taste and funky smell, so, unlike overripe bananas or apples, which are great for baking, pass on past-peak cucumbers.

How to store cucumbers 

According to the Hmong American Farmers Association, your average supermarket cold cucumbers are generally coated with a food-grade wax that makes them safe to store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for up to one week, uncut. Unwaxed cucumbers, which are the kind that you'd pick in your own garden, are best when used within three days.

Store the cucumbers away from avocados, bananas, tomatoes, or melons, as the cucumbers are more likely to yellow quickly due to the exposure of ethylene gas. Although not harmful, ethylene is a gas that is released from fruits and vegetables that causes produce to ripen more quickly. Produce experts recommend that produce like cucumbers should not be stored in plastic bags, like the kind you would pick up in the grocery store, as this will cause them to ripen more quickly. (Though if you're trying to move an avocado along faster, or ripen bananas for a quick bread, then storing them at room temperature on the kitchen counter in a bag is perfect.)

Using plastic wrap 

One trick for keeping cucumbers fresh is wrapping them in plastic wrap. Storing them this way will help to slow down their ripening. According to Cook's Illustrated, wrapped cucumbers lasted longer than cucumbers stored loose or in a Ziploc bag: "The plastic wrap formed an airtight second skin, keeping moisture from leaving the fruit and nearly preventing moisture loss from occurring."

Once the cucumbers are tightly wrapped in plastic, store them in an airtight storage container in your refrigerator. Groundbreaking? No. But a surefire way to prevent mushy cukes? Yes.

How to store cut cucumbers 

If you've pre-cut or sliced cucumbers for snacking or a salad but have some left over, don't just throw them out or put them in a plastic bag. The best way to store cut cucumbers is to wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in an airtight storage container. The tight, locking seal on the cover of the container will help to keep them extra fresh. Place the container in your refrigerator or in the crisper drawer and use the cut cukes within five days.

By Kelly Vaughan

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