CUCUMBER QUALITY PROCESSES
Extract: Studies on fresh cucumbers before and after harvest have provided a basis for an understanding of the compositional changes occurring in the ripening fruit and during storage. The effect of cultural practices and mechanical harvesting on compositional and textural parameters has been investigated. Detailed studies on the instrumental analysis of cucumber textural components have been completed. Studies on the control of bloating in brined cucumbers represent a very exciting and productive area of current interest. The analysis of the flavor component of cucumbers and their biogenesis have received considerable attention. Research needs are specified
CUCUMBER QUALITY DETAILS: Good quality cucumbers should be firm, well-shaped, and have an even dark green color and uniform size. Cucumbers may be treated with an edible wax to prevent moisture loss and enhance appearance. Avoid cucumbers that are shriveled, yellow in color, or have soft spots. Pitting; water-soaked spots; decay: These are indications of chill injury. Often times, chill injured cucumbers will decay rapidly after they are brought out of storage. To prevent chill injury, do not store cucumbers below 45 degrees F/7 degrees C. Yellowing; softening: Cucumbers are sensitive to ethylene and will turn yellow and soften if exposed to the gas. Storing cucumbers at high temperatures may also promote yellowing. For best quality, keep cucumbers away from ethylene-producing fruits and ripening rooms. Store at 45-50 degrees F/7-10 degrees C. Shriveling: Storing cucumbers in an area with low humidity will promote shriveling. For best quality, maintain humidity level of 85-95%. Soft, sunken ends; loose seed cavity: These are indications of over mature product. Be sure to inspect cucumbers carefully upon arrival. Storage/Handling: Temperature/humidity recommendation for short-term storage of 7 days or less: 45-50 degrees F. 85„95% relative humidity.
CUCUMBER QUALITY MANAGEMENT
Several quality attributes of cucumber fruits grown in the spring and fall and from plants grafted onto different rootstocks were compared. The acidity of spring-grown cucumbers was highest in fruits from the 'Andong' rootstock followed by fruits from the 'Heukjong' rootstock and from intact cucumber plants. Electric conductivity (EC), an indication of the total mineral concentration, was highest in fruit juice from intact plants. In contrast, with fall-grown cucumbers, the EC was higher in fruits from plants grafted onto 'Heukjong'. The soluble solids content and sugar content of fall-grown cucumbers were higher in intact plants as compared to those from the 'Heukjong' rootstock. This coincided with the results obtained with spring-grown cucumbers. Glucose was the major sugar in cucumber fruits; 70–100% higher in concentration than fructose. The fructose content was highest in fruits from intact plants and lowest in fruit from the 'Heukjong' rootstock. On the basis of only the fructose content, the sweetness of fruits from the 'Heukjong' rootstock was about 72% of that of fruit from intact cucumbers. Fruit juice from the 'Andong' rootstock contained almost an equal amount of fructose as the juice from intact cucumbers. This clearly indicates the significance of rootstocks on sweetness. Sucrose was not detected in cucumber fruit juice.
CUCUMBER QUALITY INSPECTION CHECKLIST
Significant progress has been made in recent years in assessing and controlling cucumber quality. Studies on fresh cucumbers before and after harvest have provided a basis for an understanding of the compositional changes occurring in the ripening fruit and during storage as fresh or fresh pack cucumbers. The effect of cultural practices and mechanical harvesting on compositional and textural parameters has been investigated, while detailed studies on the instrumental analysis of cucumber textural components has been completed. Studies on the control of bloating in brined cucumbers represents a very exciting and productive area of current interest. The analysis of the flavor component of cucumbers and their biogenesis has received considerable attention and future work on this topic may focus on factors influencing the levels of flavor precursors such as fatty acids.
CUCUMBER, CUCUMIS SATIVUS / CUCURBITACEAE
Postharvest Atmosphere Management
Cucumber is a vegetable with a low capacity for storage, it usually looses quality 14 days from the beginning of storage. It is usually kept at 95% of relative moisture and between 7 and 10ºC.
The benefits of cold storage are not the same for all the fruit or vegetables, some given vegetables are more suitable for cold storage than others. However, pre-cooling is always advisable, because the produce takes profit from the benefits of low temperatures in cold storage rooms.
Cucumber has a low capacity for storage. It is usually stored for a period of 14 days; from two weeks onwards, the physiological alterations increase. Some problems with rots or alterations in the colour of the skin may arise.
In the cold storage rooms they are kept under temperatures between 7 and 10ºC, and levels of relative moisture at 95%. An excessively low percentage of moisture would dehydrate the product all throughout storage, whereas temperatures below those indicated would bring about chilling injuries in few days.
Cucumber is very sensitive to ethylene, in concentrations of 1-5ppm (parts per million) we may observe rotting and yellowing. Therefore, storage with produce giving off high levels of ethylene must be avoided. Bananas, melons or tomatoes must not be stored together with cucumbers.
Controlled atmosphere (CA) is barely used in the storage of cucumbers, because the storage is hardly prolonged under these conditions. In any case, concentration of 3-5% of oxygen delay rotting and yellowing. Cucumber tolerates up to 10% of carbon dioxide.
Some recommendations are found in the Web page of the University of Davis ( http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/producefacts/ )
During the post-harvest period cucumbers may undergo certain alterations that would diminish the value of the produce in the market. The most frequent alterations are yellowing, blight or diseases caused by fungi.
Cucumber’s post-harvest life is around 14 days. During the post-harvest period there are some alterations in the produce. These alterations, caused by different factors, affect the post-harvest life of cucumbers.
The factors that modify the post-harvest life of cucumbers are:
- Blight: Cucumbers tend to loose water quite easily, causing wrinkles and softening the tissues. In order to avoid this, they are usually protected with plastic.
- Yellowing: Chlorophyll degrades and causes the presence of yellowish tones. Temperatures below 10ºC, low levels of oxygen and the application of cytokinin slow down the process of yellowness.
- Diseases: The most common diseases during post-harvest life are Botrytis and Mucor.
The fungus Botrytis cinerea brings about watery spots where the fungus’ grey mycellium grows.
Mucor mucedo is a fungus that causes injuries similar to those of the fungus Botrytis.
CUCUMBER QUALITY MANAGMENT SYSTEM
There is genetic diversity in the appearance of cucumbers in the market place. The components of quality are different for fresh market and processed cucumbers (pickles). The long English or Dutch cucumbers grown in greenhouses will not be discussed here, nor will the smooth skinned Beit Alpha types that are grown in the Middle East and North Africa.
Cucumber fruit quality consists primarily of color, shape, diameter and length that meet market demands. Processors have unique requirements for quality of brine stock, including firmness and lack of carpel separation and specific length to diameter ratios (L/D) for different products. Fresh market cucumbers or "slicers" should have uniform dark green color, small (yellow) ground spot, be straight and have relatively blocky ends.
Flavor is a relatively stable characteristic in cucumber fruit. Bitterness is sometimes a problem and is thought to be associated with adverse growing conditions. Plant stress and temperatures above 92˚F or below 60˚F have been cited as contributing to bitterness.
In recent years most commercial varieties of slicing cucumbers have a uniform dark green color. This characteristic has become a standard for the U.S. market. Previously, cucumbers were lighter in color with stippling. Cucumbers for pickling continue to have the lighter color with stippling.
Although the expression of a uniform dark green color is primarily a genetic trait, lack of nitrogen can result in less color intensity. The United States Standards for Grades specify that fruit be "well colored", meaning that not less than three-fourths of the surface of the cucumber is a medium green or darker color, and that at least a light green color extends to the blossom end on one side of the cucumber. Buyers will object to large yellow ground spots where the fruit have lain on the ground. This is more of a problem on bare ground than on black plastic mulch. They are called "yellow bellies" in the trade.
Virus infection can cause a mottling effect in the fruit. Most fresh market varieties have resistance to cucumber mosaic virus (cmv) but few have resistance to watermelon mosaic virus or zucchini yellow mosaic.
Cucumbers are picked by size. If cucumbers are harvested when they are over mature there will be loss of color intensity. In old varieties with black spines the fruit would begin to turn yellow. Cucumbers released in the last ten years have white spines and may lose color intensity, but they do not turn yellow. Overmature fruit are not marketable.
Cucumbers are harvested by size. The United States Standards for Grades specify that U.S. Fancy fruit must not be greater than 2-3/8 inches in diameter or less than 6 inches long. Most slicers are 7 to 8-1/2 inches long. U.S. Large must have a diameter of at least 2-1/4 inches and a length of 6 inches. There is no maximum for either dimension for large. Overmature or "over grown" fruit yield to slight pressure of the thumb. The seeds may be tough and fibrous, and the pulp in the seed cavity is usually watery or jelly-like.
Shape and color are the two main criteria determining quality in the market. Genetics establish the typical shape for a variety. The market demands a uniform and well-formed product. U.S. Standards for "well formed" means that the cucumber is practically straight and not more than very slightly constricted or more than moderately tapered or pointed. The standards include silhouettes of minimum shapes allowed for each grade.
Misshapen fruit usually result from stress or lack of pollination. Stress from lack of moisture during fruit development can result in nubs and curved fruit. Poor pollination or a nitrogen deficiency can cause fruit to be pointed at the blossom end. A deficiency of potassium may cause a distinct tapering of the stem end of the fruit. Any combination of factors that reduce the vigor of the crop could contribute to the development of misshapen fruit and the resulting loss of marketable yield.
Weeds will compete for moisture and may contribute to misshapen fruit. Herbicide injury can reduce vigor of the vines and contribute to poor quality. Foliar diseases will also reduce vine vigor.
Defects and Disease top
Diseases affecting cucumber fruit include angular leaf spot (Pseudomonas lachrymans), scab (Cladosporium cucumerinum), belly rot (Rhizoctonia solani), anthracnose (Colletotrichum lagenarium), phytophthora fruit rot (Phytophthora capsici), cottony leak (Pythium aphanidermatum) and several viruses. Most varieties have resistance to scab and cucumber mosaic virus (cmv). There is no or only intermediate resistance to the rest of the diseases in most varieties of slicers and pickles. Review the claimed resistance for each variety. Recommendations for control are available in the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide or from your local Cooperative Extension Service.
Humid, warm and rainy weather presents the best conditions for disease development. Angular leaf spot and phytophthora fruit rot often begin in low or poorly drained areas of the field. Early fruit infections of these diseases are difficult to see in the packing shed.
Fields with phytophthora infections may have to be abandoned.
The skin of the cucumber is very tender and abrasions will leave scars that will reduce the visual quality. Harvest crews must be careful in handling the vines. Care must be taken when harvesting to snap the stem off cleanly and not pull the fruit which can cause some of the flesh to come out of the fruit.
Shelf Life top
Storage of cucumber is 10 to 14 days at 50˚F to 55˚F with 95% humidity. Cucumbers are subject to chilling injury if stored at lower temperatures. Cucumbers do not produce much ethylene themselves but they are sensitive to it. Cucumbers should not be stored or shipped with produce that generates ethylene.
TYPES OF CUCUMBERS:
Varieties of Cucumbers
Cucumbers are a delicious and refreshing type of vegetable that are great eating fresh or pickled. Varieties of cucumbers that you eat fresh are classed as slicing cucumbers and cucumbers with thick bumpy skins are better for pickling. Different kinds of cucumbers are also classed depending on whether they grow on vines or bushes.
Cucumbers also come in a variety of lengths depending on the cultivar. Some varieties of cucumbers are long and thin, whereas other are short and plump. For example, the English cucumber is a type of slicing cucumber which is long and green with thin skin and grows well in greenhouses. Kirby cucumbers are a shorter type of cucumber that have crunchy bumpy skins and are good for eating fresh or in pickling.
You can also grow your own cucumbers even if you have limited space. For example, varieties of bush cucumbers grow well in containers and don’t take up much space. If you have a larger vegetable garden, then you can get a bigger yield if you plant vine cucumber varieties.
In this article, you will learn about the many different types of cucumbers that you can eat. You will find out about the best kinds of cucumbers for salads, pickles, salsa, eating fresh, as well as how to make delicious flavored water. You will also find out about burpless types of cucumbers.
Types of Cucumbers (With Pictures and Names)
You may be surprised to know that botanically cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are actually a type of fruit. These long green “fruits” are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family that include watermelons, pumpkin, and zucchini. There are nearly 100 varieties of cucumbers grown in most countries in the world.
Since cucumbers are generally used as a type of fresh or pickled vegetable in the culinary world, we will refer to them as such in this article.
Here are some of the many types of cumbers.
Persian cucumber is a type of slicing cucumber
Persian cucumber is a type of slicing cucumber which is great when eaten fresh
The Persian cucumber is a small cucumber with smooth skin and very few seeds. Compared to the English cucumber, the Persian cucumber is shorter, but still good for eating fresh.
The Persian cucumber is burpless cucumber which means that it doesn’t have a bumpy skin. The Persian cucumber is a great slicing cucumber. The lack of burps and seeds means that it doesn’t have the bitter taste that you get from some other cucumbers. Because of that, Persian cucumbers are among some of the most popular types of cucumber consumed due to their fresh taste.
The flesh of Persian cucumbers is crunchy and firm, making it excellent for salads or slicing into spears to eat with a dip. These short sturdy cucumbers also hold up well if using them in stir-fries or for pickling.
The English cucumber is a type of long cucumber
Another example of a burpless cucumber is the long, slender English cucumber with smooth dark-green shiny skin.
Compared to many other different types of cucumbers, the English cucumber is a sweet variety. It contains tiny seeds that prevent the light crunchy flesh from tasting bitter. The thin skin and long length make the English cucumber one of the best types of slicing cucumbers.
Unlike Persian cucumbers, the English varieties grow much longer and can reach between 1 and 2 ft. (30 – 60 cm) in length. This is about double the length of a fully ripened Persian cucumber. Apart from its length, English cucumbers differ from the Persian type as it has ridges running the length of its skin.
The English cucumber is a great choice to eat raw, slice up in sandwiches, chop up to add a crunch to salads or put slices in water to make cucumber water. Its mild taste won’t overpower other flavors when used fresh in recipes.
A type of cucumber similar to the English cultivar is the Telegraph Cucumber. This cucumber is a seedless type of cucumber that has great flavor and thin green edible skin. Similar to English cucumber, the Telegraph cucumber grows well in greenhouses or outdoors.
Lebanese cucumber is a shorter type of cucumber and is a good choice for slicing or pickling
Lebanese cucumbers are another type of burpless cucumber plant that has thin green skin and a sweet taste.
Similar to English cucumbers, plump Lebanese cucumber are a seedless variety of cucumber. However, they are not as long as the English varieties. Lebanese cucumbers are crunchy and tasty and are a good choice for slicing or pickling.
American (Garden) Cucumber
Garden cucumbers are a short plump type of burpless cucumber that is commonly sold in North America.
One of the things you will notice about these common garden cucumbers is their thick skin. Usually, these types of cucumber sold in stores have waxed skins to help keep them fresh. Also, the large number of big seeds in this stumpy kind of cucumber can give the vegetable a bitter taste.
So, if you decide to eat this crunchy vegetable fresh, it is best to peel it and remove all the seeds. A peeled, de-seeded garden cucumber is a great slicing cucumber that goes well in most salads or used as a side dish.
kirby cucumber is a short type of cucumber which is great for pickling
If you want a great pickling cucumber that holds its crunch well, then Kirby cucumbers are a great choice.
There are a number of reasons why Kirbys make delicious pickled cucumbers. First, the Kirby cucumber has tough bumpy skin that remains crunchy in pickling liquid. Also, their tough flesh retains its firmness in brine or pickling vinegar.
So, when biting into a pickled Kirby cucumber, you get a definite crunch without any mush. The short length of Kirby pickling cucumbers also means that they usually fit into a jar without having to cut them in half.
Cucumis anguria is a type of Gherkin with spiky skin
Cucamelons (“Mexican sour gherkin”) are also used for pickling
Gherkins are an unusual type of small cucumber that have spiky skin, such as Cucumis anguria, and a crunchy texture. Another type of gherkin is the Mexican sour gherkin (also called cucamelon) which has a smooth skin.
These vine-growing cucumbers produce oval-shaped fruits that may only be 1.5” (4 cm) in length. The tiny cucumbers pack a strong taste that can also be fairly sour.
The gherkin type of cucumber shouldn’t be confused with the term gherkins that is commonly used in English-speaking countries for pickled cucumbers. In some countries, gherkins refer to any type of small or baby cucumber that has been pickled.
Mexican Sour Gherkins
Mexican Sour Gherkins are one of the tiniest species in the Cucurbitaceae family you will come across.
Mexican Sour Gherkins are small grape-sized fruits are actually related to cucumbers, but not from the genus Cucumis. The botanical name for Mexican Sour gherkins is Melothria scabra. They are also called cucamelon, mouse melon, or Mexican sour cucumber.
The unusual thing about Mexican sour cucumbers is that they are fruits that look like tiny watermelons but taste like cucumbers. You can eat Mexican sour gherkin fresh, straight off the vine. Or, you can chop them up to add to salads in the place of cucumbers. You can also create a refreshing salsa by using cucamelons in places of tomatoes.
These gherkins are also great for pickling as they require very little preparation and they stay firm.
Armenian cucumber is a long thin cucumber with smooth (burpless) skin
Armenian cucumbers grow on vines and are good slicing cucumbers that are delicious when consumed fresh.
This type of cucumber is also called a snake cucumber due to its long length and curled shape. Armenian cucumbers have dark green skin when it is growing. However, as it ripens, it takes on a lighter, more yellow appearance. The long thin cucumber has smooth (burpless) skin with pronounced ridges and pale green stripes on it.
This type of cucumber is best consumed when it has ripened to about 12” (30 cm) in length.
While this cucumber grows on the ground, you can also use it as a climbing variety of cucumber. The long vines can grow up trellises where it makes it very easy to pick the long, twisted fruits.
The botanical name for Armenian cucumbers is Cucumis melo var. flexuosus which means it’s more closely related to the muskmelon than the common cucumber.
You can eat Armenian cucumbers fresh in leaf salads or in sandwiches. You can also eat them pickled or grilled.
Japanese Cucumbers (Kyuri)
Japanese cucumber is a type of long cucumber with slightly bumpy skin
Kyuri or Japanese cucumbers are among the best climbing cucumbers that produce long narrow sweet fruits.
Like most good slicing varieties of cucumbers, this Japanese variety has dark-green skin that is fairly thin. The sweetness of this cucumber comes from the fact there are very few seeds in it. Unlike other slicers which have smooth skin, Japanese cucumbers have slightly bumpy skin.
Another interesting feature of Japanese cucumbers is that they retain their sweetness even though they grow very long. Even when these cucumbers reach 2 ft. (60 cm) in length, they still retain their delightful taste.
You can use these narrow green cucumbers fresh in salads, sliced in sandwiches, or pickled.
Korean cucumbers have slightly bumpy skin
Another type of cucumber to originate from Asia is the Korean cucumber that is a very crunchy sweet cucumber.
Korean cucumbers are a good all-around vegetable that are just as tasty sliced as they are pickled. Their sweet crunch is delicious in salads or cut into “fingers” to eat raw. When eating with their skins on, there is no bitterness that you sometimes get from other kinds of cucumbers.
Their slightly bumpy skin also holds up well in pickling liquid. Once pickled, they retain their crunchiness and taste. You can also slightly pickle them by sprinkling sea salt over cucumber slices to draw out water before lightly sautéing them with some sesame seeds.
Lemon cucumber is an unusual type of cucumber with round yellow skin
This type of round yellow-colored cucumber, the Lemon cucumber, is one of the most unusual types of cucumbers.
Lemon cucumbers look like round yellow fruits which are about the size of a tennis ball. Even though they have a citrus appearance and their botanical name is Cucumis sativus ‘Lemon’ there is nothing “lemony” about their taste. Lemon cucumbers have a crispy texture and mildly sweet taste.
You can eat Lemon cucumbers fresh with their skins on as they are thin and crunchy. You may also want to try pickling this type of cucumber as it makes an unusual, but tasty, treat.
Bush Champion Cucumber
Bush Champion Cucumber
Bush Champion Cucumber gives a good yield of slicing cucumber
If you are looking for an easy-to-grow a bush variety of cucumber, then the Bush Champion is a great choice.
The Bush Champion cucumber cultivar has been specifically developed to produce a good yield of slicing cucumber in a small space. You can grow these cucumber plants in containers or in a small vegetable patch. Dark green skin covers this burpless cucumber that has a crisp mild flavor when you bite into it.
The Bush Champion are certainly not a short thin variety of cucumber. The vegetables can grow between 8” and 12” (20 – 30 cm) in length and they have a plump look to them.
Iznik cucumber is a small type of cucumber
Iznik is a type of little cucumber with thin skin, no seeds, and crispy crunch when you bite into them.
Iznik cucumbers grow on vines and are a good cucumber cultivar if you want a climbing variety. Izniks are small green cucumbers that grow between 3” and 4” (7 – 10 cm) long are the perfect type of “lunch-box” cucumber.
Iznik cucumbers are some of the best cucumbers to grow if you want to grow small cucumbers in your greenhouse, in patio pots, or have them climbing up trellises.
Salt and Pepper Cucumbers
Salt and Pepper cucumbers get their name from the white and dark spines on the pale-yellow skin.
This cucumber variety is one of the few vegetables from the Cucumis sativus species that doesn’t have green skin. This slicing type of cucumber has thin pale-yellow skin and a fresh, crisp taste. Unlike other types of cucumbers that have light green to white flesh, Salt and Peppers have a greenish-yellow flesh with very few seeds.
Even though this cucumber is a good slicer, it also pickles well and is a colorful addition to any type of food.
Add this cucumber diced or sliced to fresh salads to give them some color and crunch. You can also cut long triangular slices and mix them along with green-skinned crunchy cucumbers for dips.
Northern Pickling Cucumber
Northern Pickling Cucumber
The Northern Pickling cucumber is a type of short cucumber with bumpy skin
As its name suggests, the Northern Pickling cucumber is mostly grown for pickling.
The Northern Pickling cucumbers are short stout cucumbers that are a vine cucumber, but not as sprawling as some other types of vine cucumber. This means that you can grow them successfully in small vegetable patches or up short trellises.
Northern Pickling types have yellowish-green bumpy skin with yellow veins running the length of the fruit. The firm flesh and skin mean that they retain their crunch after pickling.
The Northern Pickling are some of the best pickling cucumbers to grow if you live in cooler climates with a short growing season. Also, because the cucumber vines grow small leaves, picking the stumpy green fruits is very easy.
Of course, the Northern Pickling are also delicious cucumbers if you want to peel them and eat them fresh.
Tyria cucumber vines produce a large yield of cucumbers and are easy to grow
Tyria cucumbers are a long green variety of seedless cucumber that are a perfect slicer with sweet, non-bitter flesh.
These vine-growing cucumbers can grow up to 14” (35 cm) in length. Their skin is dark-green with light ribbing down the length.
One of the reasons to grow this European cucumber variety is that the sturdy vines produce a large yield of cucumbers and they are easy to grow. The long green cucumbers grow well in greenhouses and climbing up trellises.
Slicing quality cucumbers:
Long Green Improved
Little Leaf H-19
Pick a Bushel