How to Store Cucumbers
The cool crunch of cucumber in our salads is the song of summer. Yet, despite the many salads we eat, we sometimes can't seem to use up as many of our garden cukes as we'd like. That leaves us with another conundrum: how to store cucumbers so they stay fresh. The cucumber is a tricky vegetable to store, but we'll tell you the best way to do it so your cukes keep their crunch.
How to Store Whole Cucumbers
The best way to store a cucumber is in the refrigerator:
- Wash cucumbers and dry them thoroughly.
- Place cucumbers in the warmest spot of your refrigerator for up to a week. This is usually near the front of your fridge, or on the door.
How to Store Cut Cucumbers
If you sliced your cucumbers and aren't ready to eat them yet, here's how to store them:
- Place them in a container with a lid.
- Fill the container with water.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
This method works really well—the cold cucumbers keep their crunch as they're shielded from the dry air in the fridge.
Freezing Whole Cucumbers
How to freeze cucumbers:
- Wash cucumbers and dry thoroughly.
- Place whole cucumbers in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to three months.
Freezing cucumbers is not ideal if you want to be able to slice them up for a salad later. The texture changes significantly, from crisp to mushy, but there are a few ways you can use previously frozen cukes. You can stick them in a blender and puree them to use in a smoothie or in gazpacho, or you can strain the cucumbers to separate the pulp from the liquid to make cucumber water. The liquid does have a very strong flavor, so you'll have to add water if you want a more mellow taste.
Debunking Common Ways to Store Cucumbers
Common Practice #1: Kitchen Counter
One common misconception is that cucumbers do best stored on the counter at room temperature. While a fresh cuke can hold its own at room temp for a little while, it's probably not going to yield the results you expect if you don't get to it in a day or two. While it's true that cucumbers can experience "chilling injury" at temperatures below 50℉ (pitting, softening, etc.), keeping them in the warmest part of the fridge—away from the cooling elements and toward the front—is your best bet for long-lasting cukes. If you do store cucumbers on the counter, be sure to use them in two or three days, and don't store them near other fruits and vegetables. They're sensitive to ethylene gas that some veggies emit, and cucumbers decay a lot faster when they're exposed to it.
Common Practice #2: Wrapped in a Paper Towel and Refrigerated
This method involves wrapping clean cucumbers in paper towels, placing them in a zip-top plastic bag or plastic wrap and storing them in the refrigerator. This practice doesn't hurt the cucumbers, but it is unnecessary. An unwrapped cucumber and a wrapped cucumber both stay equally crisp in the refrigerator for about 6 days before they begin to soften.
A Longer-Term Storage Solution
If you're looking for long-term storage solutions, consider pickling your cucumbers! If that sounds like a daunting project, know that you don't have to commit to the whole canning process. Check out our guide on How to Pickle Anything (no canning required!) so you can enjoy your garden cucumbers for up to a month—or longer if you preserve them.