The cool cucumber is among several other vegetables which don’t have a long shelf life. This is mainly due to their high water content.
Needless to say, cucumbers are highly nutritious and versatile vegetables. Their high water content make them a great source of body hydration.
Using vegetables with a short shelf life can limit how you use them. However, once you know how long cucumber lasts and how best to store them, you are set for a year’s supply.
How Long Does Cucumber Last (At Room Temperature)
Whole, uncut, unblemished cucumbers thrive at room temperature. The standard room temperature ranges from 20 – 22℃ (68 – 72℉).
Here, cucumbers last from 8 – 14 days.
How Long Does Cucumber Last (In The Fridge)
Did you know that cucumbers are sensitive to low temperatures? Did you? Once I stumbled upon this discovery, I was awash with guilt, considering I have always refrigerated mine.
If using the fridge, how many days will the cucumber last? At 50℉ (10℃) and above, whole cucumbers will last for 4 days.
If you, like me, thought cucumbers last longer in the fridge, they do not! Low temperatures cause chilling injuries.
How Long Do Cucumbers Last Out Of The Fridge?
It is not ideal to remove refrigerated cucumbers and leave them out at room temperature (unless you are using right away). The change from low to room temperature accelerates spoilage.
How Long Do Cucumbers Last Once Cut?
Not long! After being cut, cucumbers dry out quickly. Use immediately or refrigerate. Pack them into an airtight container before popping into the fridge.
Use within 2 days.
How Long Do Cucumbers Last (In The Freezer)
To freeze cucumbers, you have to change their state. Freezing fresh, whole cucumbers is a no-no.
You can freeze cucumbers by first preserving them in brine or vinegar (pickling).
Here is how:
- When choosing cucumbers for pickling, pick firm but tender cucumbers to allow the brine to seep through perfectly. Alternatively, opt for pickling cucumbers which are usually smaller in size.
- Avoid blemished cucumbers. They easily harbor bacteria which hasten spoilage and cause food poisoning
- Pick evenly-shaped cucumbers. This allows them to fit well inside the pickling jars as well as pickle uniformly.
- Pickle on the same day you buy or harvest to retain quality. Ingredients for pickling include brine (salt and water) or vinegar. Some recipes call for sugar to balance out the acidity as well as spices to add flavor.
- Marinate the cucumbers in a brine solution prior to pickling. This softens the flesh, allowing the pickling solution to permeate thoroughly.
- Arrange the cucumbers neatly in sterilized mason jars.
- When using brine, bring the mixture of salt and water to a boil before pouring the hot solution over the cucumbers. When using vinegar, simply pour it over the marinated cucumbers.
- Leave ample head space at the top.
- Cover the lids loosely and leave the contents to process for several minutes. The lids should seal themselves.
- Once cooled, freeze the contents.
Unopened cucumbers preserved in brine or vinegar last in the freezer for 6 – 8 months.
Besides pickling for freezing, here is a simple way to store cucumbers for months:
Puree and Freeze
In case you are wondering what to do with soft cucumbers, or you have excess supply and are afraid they might spoil, make cucumber puree. This is a fantastic preservation method.
When making cucumber puree:
- Clean well before peeling.
- Blend the flesh until they reduce into puree.
- Pour onto molds and flash-freeze until rock solid.
- Transfer into sizable Ziploc bags.
- Label well.
Enjoy them for up to 1 year.
How Do You Keep Cucumbers Fresh Longer?
- Only wash prior to using or eating.
- Never store cucumbers near ethylene-releasing produce. These include: tomatoes, apples and bananas.
- When storing at room temperature, keep them away from heat-emitting appliances such as cooking range or heaters. Also, store away from direct sunlight.
- Keep pests at bay. Pests such as fruit flies are notorious for enhancing food decay. They do this by nibbling on the food or laying eggs and larva on the skin.
Other Ways You Can Preserve Cucumbers
For cucumbers, a dehydrator would work best, since it has conducive elements for effective drying.
The controlled temperatures and air circulation enable the cucumber slices to be dried evenly.
- Clean well before slicing.
- If possible, use a mandolin for uniform slices.
- Spread the slices on lined dehydrating trays.
- Use a single layer for effective drying.
- Well dried pieces are leathery but crisp.
If you have never tried cucumber fries, you have the opportunity to do so.
Dried cucumber slices are delicious, vibrant and refreshing. How do you use dried cucumber slices?
- Deep-fry the slices and eat as fries
- Use them in lasagna dishes for that smoky taste
- Chop the slices up and combine with sour cream or yogurt for a refreshing dipping sauce.
Store the dried slices in airtight containers and in a cool, dry area.
Use within 4 – 6 months.
Unlike in pickling where the entire vegetable is used, jelly making utilizes the juice only. Jellied cucumber also has a sweeter taste, since salt is not used.
The ingredients used in making cucumber jelly include; vinegar, sugar, pectin and cucumber juice. Pectin enables the mixture to set and have the thick, gel-like texture.
- Bring the vinegar, sugar and cucumber juice to boil for a few minutes.
- Add pectin. Stir the mixture well so that the pectin distributes evenly.
- Pour into jars which have seal-able lids. Seal tightly and allow the jelly a few hours to set before using.
Jellied cucumbers keep well in the pantry, in a cool area away from sunlight.
How To Tell If A Cucumber Is Bad
Due to high water content, cucumbers deteriorate quickly. Here are quick pointers for identifying spoilage:
- Change in color – Spoiled cucumbers change from green to yellow or worse still dark brown. Discard immediately.
- Visible mold – Any sign of mold is a clear indication of spoilage. It is argued that you can just chop off the section that has mold and consume the remaining bits. This can work for certain food items with less water content. For cucumbers, the roots of the mold can easily penetrate into the flesh due to the high water content. It is safer to discard cucumbers with mold.
- Squishy flesh and shriveled skin – Fresh cucumbers have a firm texture. A limp, squishy cucumber indicates that expiration is underway.
- Slimy, milky and discolored flesh – Sliced cucumbers that feel slimy and have creamy juice are not safe to eat. Any discolored flesh also indicates spoilage.
- Bitter taste – Some cucumbers give off a natural bitter taste found in their stem. This does not necessarily mean that they are spoiled, but such bitterness affects the palatability of the cucumbers. On the other hand, storing cucumbers with certain vegetables which give off ethylene, such as tomatoes, hastens their spoilage. The cucumbers will absorb the ethylene and rot quickly.
What happens if you eat a bad cucumber?
You risk food poisoning. This is especially the case if the cucumber had mold. In case you consume unknowingly, drink a lot of water and detoxifying juices to help flush the content out.
How about eating an old cucumber? Can you get sick from eating it?
This sorely depends on the state of the cucumber. It might be old, but if there are no visible spoilage signs as mentioned above, you can safely eat it.
Crunchy and firm cucumbers are always welcome in any household. You can enhance their shelf life in various creative ways. In as much as the texture and state may change, the benefits will still be there.