Cucumbers are unique fruits as they are used when still immature and risk turning bitter and spoiling if allowed to fully ripen.
Typically, cucumbers are picked at any point between 2 and 8 inches long, before they become too seedy or the seeds turn hard. The perfect size to pick cucumbers generally depends on their variety and what they are being used for.
Thicker cucumbers typically contain more seeds than thinner varieties. This is why it is often best to pick smaller ones rather than leaving them on the vine.
If you wish to cultivate them for pickles, they will be much smaller than slicing cucumbers. And, because they grow so quickly, you will need to harvest them every other day or so.
This article will guide you through the correct times to harvest cucumbers and give tips on growing and picking them correctly.
When To Pick Cucumbers
The best time to pick cucumbers depends on their variety and what you want to use them for. There are two main varieties of cucumbers:
- Small pickling cucumbers – these are rough and bumpy
- Large slicing cucumbers – these are ideal for eating fresh
When harvesting cucumbers to pickle, you should aim to pick them when they reach around 2 inches in length. Especially if you plan to make gherkins or sweet pickles from them.
On the other hand, if you intend to make dill pickles, you should harvest them when they are approximately three to four inches long. At this point, their seeds are undeveloped.
It would be best to harvest slicing cucumbers when they reach about six to nine inches in length and has a dark green hue, sometimes with white streaks.
How To Pick Cucumbers
Cucumbers are warm-season vine plants that grow in abundance when cared for properly. They tend to ripen at various times on their vines, but you must pick them often.
When harvesting cucumbers, you should consider wearing garden gloves when necessary. Some varieties, such as pickling cucumbers, can be prickly and easily puncture your skin.
Using a pruner or sharp knife, cut the cucumber off its vine. However, always try to leave a half-inch section of the stem attached to the cucumber.
This will prevent the end of the stem from rotting, especially if you intend to store it for a while.
Once picked, lay them gently in a container to avoid bruising or damage. If you find spines on your cucumbers, remove them using a cloth or soft vegetable brush. Just rub these along the fruit’s length.
How To Tell When A Cucumber Is Ripe
There is no exact science when it comes to harvesting cucumbers. However, you should pick them before they are fully ripe. That said, you can usually estimate when they are ready to be harvested.
In general, cucumbers will be ready for harvest from 50 to 70 days after germination, when the color of the developed fruit turns medium to dark green and becomes firm.
However, you must be mindful of yellow and white varieties, which may have a mottled appearance. Check the seed’s packet for more information on your particular cucumber’s characteristics.
Either way, if you allow them to grow too big, they tend to become bitter, full of seeds and may have an unpleasant texture.
Nevertheless, if the cucumber is yellow, has some soft spots and twisted tips, and is a little puffy, they need to be discarded. In such a case, they most likely have gone past their ripening stage.
Tips For Grow Your Own Cucumbers
When buying cucumber seeds from the store, they will usually come in packets, where you’ll find additional information on the particular variety, including estimated size and days to harvest.
Cucumbers are usually ready to harvest after 50 to 70 days from sowing. They tend to develop at various times on their vines, and you must pick them when they are ready.
You can grow cucumbers in greenhouses or in a warm, sheltered space outdoors. However, the seeds can be sown indoors or out and should be planted from Spring to early Summer.
When they grow, keep an eye on them frequently and water them regularly. Look out for the first female flowers to open. From this point, you can expect the fruit to be ready in about 8 to 10 days afterward.
Inspect the vines every day after they start producing flowers, as the cucumbers seem to appear out of nowhere.
Cucumbers are one of the most refreshing yet crunchy fruits. But, they are regarded as a vegetable by many due to how they are used in the culinary world.
The best time to pick cucumbers depends on their variety and what you want to use them for. The information on the package will give a good idea of when to harvest them.
Rather than picking cucumbers all at once, they should be harvested frequently when ready. If not, they could develop a yellow hue. If this occurs, it usually means the fruit has over-ripened.
University Of Georgia Extension. Growing Cucumbers In The Home Garden. extension.uga.edu. Accessed November 2022
South Dakota University Extension. Harvesting Cucumbers. extension.sdstate.edu. Accessed November 2022