Cucumbers are a very versatile food. You can either use them fresh from the garden in a cucumber salad, in dishes or just eat them as a summer snack with dips.
Knowing whether a cucumber is bad or good can mean the difference between homemade pickles or feeding cucumbers to your goats, or even tossing the fruits on your compost heap.
Cucumbers have many health benefits, are low in calories, and are abundant in nutrients and vitamins such as vitamin K and vitamin C, making them ideal when on a diet. Besides, cucumbers contain anti-inflammatory properties.
You may think there are just a couple of types, yet fresh cucumber comes in many shapes and sizes, including pickled cucumbers, Persian cucumbers, Japanese cucumbers, Burpless cucumbers, and English cucumbers, and more.
In our guide, you can learn more about how do you know if a cucumber is bad, so you can avoid foodborne illness. By the end, you’ll have enough info to know when is a cucumber bad, and store cucumbers while following food safety techniques. (Learn How Long Do Cucumbers Last In The Fridge)
What Happens If You Eat Bad Cucumbers?
The answer to how to tell if the cucumber is bad goes hand in hand with how long are cucumbers good for? Many of the same scenarios apply to other fruits and vegetables. It will differ based on farmers’ market or store-bought, are they whole, or have you peeled and sliced them already?
If you’ve ever cut into a cucumber and found the inside mushy and slimy, you’ve seen what occurs when a cucumber spoils.
When do cucumbers spoil? Cucumbers, being high in water, have a shorter shelf life than other vegetables.
While the skin keeps them from deteriorating, they still require proper storage to stay fresh. Whether they’re fresh from the garden, refrigerated, or peeled and sliced, we’ll show you how to spot rotten cucumbers.
The best way to detect when a cucumber is ripe in the garden is to look at its skin. Most kinds are dark green and firm to the touch. Cukes with soft areas or blemishes on the cucumber’s skin are close to being bad and should be avoided and tossed on your compost pile.
Pick fresh cucumbers and discard bitter ones. This bitterness is caused by cucurbitacin, a chemical found in gourds caused by incorrect growing procedures.
Pickling cucumbers are harvested when they are two to six inches long, whereas slicing cucumbers are harvested when they are seven inches long. (Read Spots On Cucumber Leaves – What to Do)
Cut the cucumber off the vine with garden shears and leave an inch of stem attached. Keeping the stem intact stops your cucumber from being a spoiled cucumber.
How Long Does Cucumber Last In The Fridge?
If you’re not planning on pickling your cucumbers, the easiest way to store them is in the refrigerator. Fresh cucumbers can be kept in the refrigerator vegetable drawer for up to a week. You can spot cucumbers that are spoiled as they have soft spots or wrinkled skin.
Here are the quick steps for refrigerating cucumbers
- Paper towel.
- Plastic wrap.
If you’re storing cucumbers for later use, don’t leave them out on the counter at room temperature unless you’re going to consume them right away. At room temperature, they degrade quickly.
Instead, place whole cucumbers in a plastic bag after wrapping them in plastic wrap or paper towels. To experience the best freshness and crisp texture, store the cukes in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for up to five days.
How Long Can Cucumbers Last Before Going Bad?
Don’t store any cut and uncut cucumbers with each other. If you have too many cut cucumbers in your fridge, use them as pickling cucumbers to extend their shelf life. (Learn Can Goats Eat Cucumbers)
Here are a few ways to tell that your cucumber has gone bad.
Softness and Wrinkles
- Firm garden cucumbers are best. The firmness and texture of a cucumber can show a bad one.
- A wrinkled and mushy cucumber with soft areas shows aging and decay.
- Look for soft patches on the surface that you can press into.
- If only one end of the cucumber is soft, use the hard end and discard the soft.
Sliminess and Moisture
- A cucumber’s look can assist determine if it is rotting.
- Moisture or dampness on the cucumber shows deterioration.
- A stale cucumber has a mushy texture and a slimy film on the cucumber skin, which is unfit to eat.
- Sliced bad cucumbers have a milky, slimy texture and turn translucent.
- Mold development on the cucumbers is noticeable like on other spoiled vegetables.
- Cucumber has gone bad when you have mold on the surface. Don’t eat any of it as the watery flesh might transmit mold particles.
Cucumbers with dark spots or blemishes on the skin are signs the entire cucumber is unfit to eat.
Foul Odor and Sour Taste
Bad cucumber has a foul odor and a sour taste.
Cucumbers aren’t inherently bitter, so when they do and smell, you no longer have fresh cucumbers and they have gone bad.
- When stored properly, cucumbers last 1–2 weeks.
- Cucumbers must be stored carefully to ensure optimal freshness and shelf life.
- Cucumbers should be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
Cucumbers should be stored at room temperature in an airtight container. Sliced and peeled cucumbers spoil faster than entire unpeeled cucumbers because their protective skin is still intact.
Do Cucumbers Last When Cut?
Sliced cucumbers last 1–2 days in the fridge. Just cover the cut end of the cucumber with a paper towel or plastic wrap or plastic bag to prevent drying and then refrigerate.
How Do Overripe and Bad Cucumbers Differ?
Overripe cucumbers are those that were left on the vine too long. They get smooth, golden skin.
Overripe cucumbers can be eaten, but don’t eat cucumbers you think are rotten because of the risk of foodborne illnesses.
What To Do With Soft Cucumbers?
For blended dishes that call for pureed cucumber, consider a cucumber that has some soft spots and isn’t as crisp. Cucumbers can be blended with other ingredients if they become soggy.
It’s great in cucumber soup, tzatziki sauce, cocktails, and cool cucumber smoothies or juices.
Does Bad Cucumber Make You Sick?
Yes, spoiled cucumbers are unhealthy. Cucumbers are mainly water, which attracts bacteria to any exposed flesh.
Stale cucumbers may cause food poisoning or other health issues. You can find eating rotten cucumbers leads to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. So, make sure your cucumber is stored to avoid eating rotten produce. (Learn What Causes Cucumbers To Be Bitter)
Tips on How to Store Cucumbers Properly
Store cucumbers using these tips to avoid spoilage.
- Wash cucumbers well before storing them.
- Keep your cucumbers cool and dry. Use vented containers to improve air circulation and avoid mold formation.
- Cucumbers last for two to three days, only outside the refrigerator.
- To prolong the shelf life of cucumbers, wrap them in plastic wrap or a zip-lock bag.
- Keep them on the middle shelves where temps and moisture are not too high.
- Refrigerate cucumbers in the crisper for a week.
- Put slices in an airtight container where they can last a day.
General Storage Tips
- Store cucumbers away from ethylene gas-emitting fruits like apples and bananas, which can speed up the ripening process.
- Store sliced and entire cucumbers separately.
- Freshly sliced cucumbers should be stored in an airtight container and eaten within 48 hours.
- Use a cucumber with a few soft spots in a blender rather than in a salad.
- Don’t eat any cucumber with mold growth. Toss the whole cucumber.
- Don’t freeze cucumbers because of their high water content as they go mushy.
- Soak sliced cucumber in vinegar as a pickle to last longer.