Photo provided by Rosie Lerner, Purdue Extension
If you’ve noticed that your cucumbers are a little (or a lot) bitter lately, don’t give up hope. A little water, mulch and patience will provide relief.
Most cucumber plants contain a bitter compound called cucurbitacin, which can be present in the fruit as well as the foliage. Bitterness in cucumbers tends to be more prominent when plants are under stress from low moisture, high temperatures or poor nutrition. Although most areas of the state received abundant moisture earlier in the season, more recent hot, dry conditions have encouraged production of the bitter compound. Plant breeders, however, have developed many modern cultivars that lack the bitter genes.