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Store-bought cucumbers usually do not taste bitter, but anyone who has planted the tasty vegetables in their own garden will notice that one or the other cucumber can taste bitter or sour. It is difficult to understand that your own plants from the garden do not offer tasty and edible fruits, even though everything has been done correctly in terms of care. But where does this taste come from and is it possibly dangerous to eat such a cucumber?

Cucumbers taste bitter

Bitter taste means poisonous

If plants have a bitter taste, then these are usually poisonous. This is regulated by nature, because a bitter taste is often perceived as unpleasant and the plant is spurned. A bitter-tasting cucumber is quickly spat out again because it is inedible due to its bitterness. In the case of plants and seeds that are purchased commercially, the bitter substance has already been bred out. A bitter taste can only occasionally occur here. Self-cultivated cucumber plants, on the other hand, can develop the toxic substance again.

Bitter substance cucurbitacin

If a cucumber tastes bitter, then the bitter substance cucurbitacin contained in the cucumber plant in low concentrations has got into the fruit. In such a case, the bitter substances are mainly located at the base of the cucumber. As a rule, the taste test should also be carried out here. In a case of bitterness it is important that the piece of cucumber is not eaten any further but spat out and the stem end is generously cut off. You can then proceed with the cucumber as follows:

  • always peel towards the stem
  • otherwise bitter substances spread over the fruit
  • Cucumber can be eaten

reasons for bitterness

Cucumbers are one of them cucurbits, which actually naturally contain the bitter substance cucurbitacin and are therefore poisonous. However, this was bred out over time. Especially the cucumbers bought in the supermarket are usually not affected. Cucumber plants and seeds purchased from specialist retailers can usually be cultivated in your own garden without hesitation. But there are exceptions in which the cucumbers could still absorb the bitter substances from the plant, because bitter substances can still be present in residues in the cucumber plants from the trade. This is particularly evident in the following cases:

  • longer dry period
  • too many nutrients (over-fertilization)
  • Irrigation water too cold
  • This stresses the plant

But above all, if the cucumber plants are grown in your own garden from your own seeds, over the years the previously bred cucurbitacin can appear again in the plant. But even those who cultivate ornamental fruits in the garden must reckon with the fact that pollen can lead to so-called backcrossing on purchased cucumber plants.

Dangerous toxicity?

If a vegetable or fruit tastes bitter, it is usually not eaten. Therefore, a bite into a bitter cucumber is not dangerous, because due to the bad taste, the piece is immediately spat out again. But it's fine anyway. Because the toxic substance cucurbitacin can harm humans if too much of it is ingested. This toxin also occurs in other pumpkin plants, such as melons or zucchini, and there have even been isolated cases of death. In the local latitudes, the substances are only very small and cause the following symptoms when consumed:

  • Discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Vomit
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • possibly circulatory problems and dizziness

Cucumbers are sour

If the cucumbers have a sour taste, it may be because the fruit has either been exposed to frost or has been stored too cool. In such a case, the fruits also become mushy on the inside, even if they still appear firm from the outside. While a sour-tasting cucumber is not harmful to your health, it is simply no longer edible. In such a case, the only recommendation is to dispose of the cucumbers in question.

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