Getting enough veggies into your diet is imperative to a healthy lifestyle, but if you open the pantry door and those veggies are giving off red flags, we’d definitely be reconsidering eating them.
If you’re not careful, cucumber can quickly go past its prime and turn your pantry into a whole hot mess. When cucumber is good, it’s fresh, vibrant green and super hydrating. In this state, cucumber is extremely healthy and full of fiber and antioxidants, as well as vitamins K and A.
However, when cucumber turns rotten, all of these health benefits disappear and you are left with nothing but spoiled food- and because cucumbers are mainly made up of water, this decaying process can happen quickly.
Although there are obvious signs of spoilage, when cucumber initially goes bad, it can be quite difficult to identify whether or not it has actually expired.
In today’s fast-paced society, life is too busy to have to worry about possibly eating rotten food (not to mention the ailments you may contract post-eating), which is exactly why we are here to share with you 5 foolproof ways of being able to recognize spoiled cucumbers.
If your cucumber passes any of the following texture, smell, color, mold or taste tests, it has likely gone bad and we would highly recommend not consuming it.
How To Tell If Your Cucumber Is Bad: Texture
If you have suspicions that your cucumber may be past its prime, a great indicator of this is the texture.
Cucumbers have a very distinctive texture as they are mainly composed of water, so if any of the following are visible, it’s best to throw them away.
|Softness||When a cucumber is in its best state, it will have firm skin that is dull (shiny skin indicates unripeness.). |
A cucumber that has turned rotten will be very soft to the touch.
In terms of the flesh, when it is spoiled, it will also be mushy and may even ooze water
To examine this aspect of the cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise
|Shriveled/wrinkles||When the cucumber starts to go bad, another indicator is if you see any signs of wrinkles, shriveled spots or dents on the skin. |
The skin of a healthy cucumber will appear tight and smooth (humans and vegetables have a lot more in common than we realized).
|Sliminess||When it comes to texture, a third indicator of spoilage on cucumbers is whether or not it feels slimy (this typically appears on sliced cucumber). |
Examine your cucumber, if it has a slippery or slimy film, do not eat it.
Remember, in their natural state, cucumbers are watery and moist, so make sure when you’re examining for this indicator that you distinguish this from rotten sliminess.
|Solid Seeds||When your cucumber is fresh, the seeds inside will be firm. |
The seeds should also be accompanied by a clear and watery flesh if your cucumber is still good.
To identify this, cut the vegetable in half lengthwise and look to see if the seeds have gone mushy. If yes, your cucumber is starting to rot.
How To Tell If Your Cucumber Is Bad: Smell
When it comes to identifying whether or not food has gone bad, the most common indicator is smell.
Have you ever opened your fridge and almost got knocked over by an extremely unpleasant odor?
If this happens, it’s a good idea to find the root cause of it. If you suspect it might be your cucumber, take a look at the following indicators.
|Unpleasant smell||When cucumber is in its prime, it should smell light and refreshing (because of its high water content, the odor is very mild)|
If you open your fridge and are greeted by a pungent, bad odor, it’s likely time to get rid of your cucumber.
If you’re feeling unsure whether or not the smell is pointing to spoilage, look for some of the other indicators, such as the texture, color, or whether or not mold is present.
|Bugs||Cucumbers that have gone bad will often attract bugs due to the smell, so if there are any insects in the vicinity (especially fruit flies), this is a good sign your cucumber has gone bad.|
How To Tell If Your Cucumber Is Bad: Color
After smell, the second most obvious indicator of rotten veggies is appearance.
When you look at your cucumber and your instincts are telling you that something is off visually, you’re probably right.
The color, in particular, will be a sure sign of this. For further reassurance, check out these indicators:
|Skin||When a cucumber is in its prime, it will possess a fresh green hue (this can come in a range of shades from light to dark green). |
A cucumber that is still good may also possess some yellow spots on it and while a few yellow spots are perfectly okay, if the yellowing is extensive, this may be a sign of spoilage and you should avoid eating it.
If you’re unsure, look for some of the other indicators, such as smell and texture.
When your cucumber is significantly overripe, it may also develop brown or black spots. This is a sign that bacteria has developed and you should not consume it (as it may lead to food poisoning).
Significant blackening could indicate mold. In this case, throw away your cucumber immediately.
|Flesh||When it comes to the flesh, a healthy cucumber will exhibit a clear and watery interior. |
If this clear hue changes color or turns brown, like the skin, this means bacteria has developed and you shouldn’t eat these parts.
Note: if only a few small parts are infected by browning, cut these parts out and use the rest.
How To Tell If Your Cucumber Is Bad: Mold
Hopefully, your cucumber never reaches this state. If it does, don’t worry. We’ve all been there- you haven’t cleaned out the fridge in a while and food gets lost in the abyss that is the back of the crisper drawer.
You start to notice a strong odor and decide it’s time to go on a hunt to identify where the smell is coming from. And that’s when you discover it. A shriveled lump of something that once resembled food, is now covered in mold.
Mold is extremely unhealthy and, when consumed, can make you very sick. If you’re not sure whether or not the spots on your cucumber are moldy, the indications in the following chart may be able to help you.
|Mold spots||As mentioned in the previous sections, the skin of your cucumber should possess a healthy green hue and a firm skin. |
When it comes to the flesh, it should be a clear shade, free from discoloration.
When your cucumber begins to go bad, both parts may start to develop mold.
This will appear in the form of fine threads or spores and should not be consumed under any circumstances.
Unfortunately, these threads and spores are difficult to see with the naked eye, so if you’re unsure, check out some of the other indications.
NOTE: While it is unsafe to consume areas that are moldy, if only a small section of your cucumber is infected, you can cut this out and consume the rest.
A good rule to follow is to cut out the moldy parts as well as a 1-inch parameter around the mold to ensure you’re not eating any contaminated areas.
However, if the mold is spread out all over the vegetable, we highly recommend throwing it away (if you’re unsure, it’s best not to risk it).
RELATED: Is A Pickle A Fruit Or A Vegetable
How To Tell If Your Cucumber Is Bad: Taste
If your cucumber doesn’t appear to be significantly past its expiration date and you are brave enough to do the “taste test,” the flavor you experience will definitely be indicative of whether or not it has gone bad.
|Sour Taste||As cucumbers begin to spoil, a compound known as “cucurbitacin” spreads across the vegetable. This process is what causes the cucumber to take on a sour odor or flavor. |
In their prime, cucumbers are fresh, slightly sweet and watery in taste.
If you bite into a piece of cucumber and notice that it tastes at all bitter or sour, it’s a good sign that it’s time to toss your vegetable.
Note: do not taste test any parts that are brown or black! This is bacteria and can make you ill.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Choose Good Cucumbers At The Store?
In order to extend the shelf life of cucumbers as much as possible and avoid it from spoiling, the first step is knowing how to choose the best cucumber at the store.
Whether you’re at your local supermarket or are purchasing it from the farmer’s market, these are the key indicators you should look out for when choosing cucumbers.
- Choose a cucumber that is bright green (the hue doesn’t matter- light, medium and dark green cucumbers are all good).
- Choose a cucumber that is firm.
- Avoid cucumbers that are excessively yellow, sunken or have wrinkles/dents.
- Dull cucumbers are better (shiny cucumbers indicate unripeness).
- Smell the cucumber. It should possess a mild and fresh odor. If it smells at all sour or bitter, do not purchase it.
How Do You Store Cucumbers?
Cucumbers are unique from a lot of other vegetables as they contain a significantly high water percentage (approximately 96%).
Because of this high amount of moisture, cucumbers can easily develop mold or dry out and can therefore be tricky to store.
Proper storage practices are essential for preventing spoilage, so here step-by-step instructions on how to store cucumbers.
Because who likes waste?
- Room temperature: unlike a lot of other fruits or vegetables, cucumbers are actually best kept at room temperature in places such as the pantry or on the countertop, where they will stay good for up to 2 weeks.
- Just make sure to store your cucumbers somewhere where they will not be in contact with other fruits or vegetables, as they are highly sensitive to ethylene gas.
- Fridge: if you absolutely must put your cucumber in the fridge, you want to make sure that it is as dry as possible. This means you should not wash it until you are about to use it. In addition, place it in either a paper towel or plastic bag at the front of the fridge, where it is safe from moisture and can be kept at warmer temperatures (as opposed to the back of the fridge).
- Sliced cucumber: if you are wondering how you should store cucumber that is already cut up, place it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
Can You Freeze Cucumber?
Because of the high water content in cucumbers, freezing them is not recommended. This is because when you thaw them, the excess moisture naturally contained by the cucumbers will cause them to be overly mushy.
For this reason, we do not recommend freezing your cucumbers.
How Do You Peel A Cucumber?
Whether you’re using a knife or peeler, you should always remove the skin from the lighter green part down toward the darker green part.
This prevents any bitter oils from the dark skin from spreading across the entire cucumber.
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