The homeland of cucumbers is India, or rather its tropical forest zones. Cucumber is a capricious and demanding culture, does not like hot and cold weather, as well as sudden temperature fluctuations, prefers to grow in conditions of sufficient humidity in the soil and in the air. If these conditions are not met, then vegetable plants, being under stress, produce a special substance to neutralize stress - cucurbitacin. This substance is found in the peel of the cucumber at the very stalk, and it is also the cause of the bitterness of the fruit.
Cucumbers with bitterness can be safely eaten in a peeled form. At the same time, the aroma, crunch and taste are preserved, however, it is believed that all vitamins and useful elements are located in the peel. The bitterness of the fruit disappears during heat treatment, therefore, such fruits are also suitable for pickling, salting and canning.
Years of breeding trials have borne fruit both literally and figuratively. Hybrid varieties of cucumbers have been developed that never taste bitter (for example, Liliput, Harmonist, Egoza, Schedrik and others), their fruits have a sweetish taste and pleasant aroma. However, such varieties cannot be used for winter preparations.
If you follow all the recommendations and rules, you can grow sweet and fragrant cucumbers, both in greenhouse conditions and in the open field. It must be remembered that the cucumber is a delicate and capricious culture that reacts to the slightest changes and violations of the maintenance regime.
Bitter cucumbers? They are stressed.
Having worked hard during the summer season, summer residents reasonably expect that in the autumn-winter period they will be able to enjoy crispy cucumbers from their garden. Imagine their surprise when the fruit tastes bitter both the bottom and the pulp in such a way that some cucumbers are simply impossible to eat. So that an offensive and very annoying fate does not befall your crop, you need to know the reasons for the appearance of bitterness in cucumbers and prevent the appearance of these factors in time.
It is a shame when cucumbers planted according to all the rules, which were carefully and for a long time looked after, watered, fed, weeded, suddenly turn out to be bitter! So why are cucumbers bitter, what to do with them next? If you read this article carefully, you will find out what to do with bitter cucumbers, and your work on your garden plot will not be wasted.
Outwardly, bitter cucumbers are no different from ordinary ones. They have the same rich green color, fresh aroma and crunchy skin. Few housewives, at least once in their life, have not succumbed to this "deception" and have not spoiled the taste of the salad with one single bitter cucumber. Of course, you can easily simply completely cut off the peel from a cucumber, but it is it that contains the very vitamins and minerals that the body needs.
The reason for the bitterness of cucumbers lies in cucurbitacin - a special substance with a bitter taste. Cucurbitacin is found in all cucumbers without exception, but its increased concentration is felt to the taste. The most important reasons for the increase in the level of this substance in cucumbers are:
Sometimes the cause of bitterness can be damaged or twisted lashes of the plant. Sudden changes in the weather can also affect the taste of cucumbers.
To avoid such a situation, regularly and moderately water the plants with warm water, spray them in the morning, and feed them with high-quality complex fertilizers, the composition of which is balanced. Fresh manure as a top dressing is absolutely not suitable!
When buying seeds, look for hybrid varieties that contain special genes that prevent cucurbitacin from accumulating in cucumbers. This is usually indicated by the markings on the packaging. Their taste, of course, may be less expressive and soft, but here the choice is yours.
But what if all preventive measures to grow cucumbers without bitterness turned out to be in vain? And is it possible to eat a bitter cucumber at all? Of course, but before that, you need to slightly "conjure" over him. The most common way that housewives usually use is to cut the peel from the bitter fruit. Sometimes it is enough to cut off the back of the fetus (2-3 centimeters), where cucurbitacin is mainly concentrated.
The Japanese know how to quickly and easily eliminate bitterness from cucumbers. So, in national restaurants, fruits with bitterness are not thrown away, but simply cut off the tip and rubbed them well against the cut of the cucumber in a circular motion. Around the circumference of the cut, a white foam appears, in which, in fact, cucurbitacin accumulates. If you remove it, then the cucumber will lose its bitterness, and you can enjoy the fragrant and fresh fruit.
There is another way how to remove bitterness from cucumbers intended for fresh consumption. Place them in a basin and fill them with cold water for several hours. The bitterness will come out into the water. If the cucumbers are too bitter, which is typical for rich fruits, then it is better to change the water several times.
Bitter cucumbers are also good for canning. The fact is that cucurbitacin is able to break down under the influence of water and high temperatures. If all your attempts to "reanimate" the bitter fruits for fresh consumption were unsuccessful, then there is only one way out - to salt them or pour marinade over them. After this treatment, even the most bitter cucumbers will become edible.
At the height of the summer season, ogres begin to actively set, but a large number of ovaries is not a guarantee of a rich harvest. If the cucumbers stop growing, you need to urgently take action.
The problem of insufficient growth of cucumber ovaries has to be encountered quite often. Zelentsy cease to grow in size, although there can be quite a lot of ovaries on the lashes. A number of reasons can lead to such a situation:
Cucumbers are set, but the fruits grow very slowly
Cucumbers do not tolerate cold well. At night temperatures below + 12 ° C, the fruits almost stop growing. Favorable daytime temperatures for fruiting are + 23– + 28 ᵒС, at night - no less than + 17 ᵒС. Low humidity in a stable heat also has a negative effect on the growth of cucumbers.
To get a good harvest, you must first try to determine the most likely reason for stopping the growth of ovaries, and then solve the problem. It is worth paying attention to agricultural technology. If the plantings are thickened, it is better to cut off the side lashes. There are several pinching schemes depending on the variety and other factors. Cucumber whips need to be tied up.
Removing excess shoots contributes to a richer cucumber harvest
Watering plants at the stage of growth of formed zelents should be no more than 1 time in 3 days in dry weather in central Russia. When grown in southern areas, the frequency of watering can be increased up to 1 time in 2 days during drought. If there is a sufficient amount of precipitation, you can temporarily refuse additional soil moisture. Cucumbers love water, but too much water is not good for them.
Cold weather is one of the most common reasons for the inhibition of the growth of zelents. If it is cold at night, you need to cover the cucumbers with a non-woven material, pulling it over arcs. The soil in the garden bed can be covered with black foil. In conditions of high temperatures, cucumbers also stop growing. In this case, the ventilation of greenhouses, regular spills between rows with cool water will help.
In our area, nights are cold and days are warm. In this case, I put basins of water in the aisles. During the day, the water heats up, and at night it gives off its warmth. I experienced this method on my site more than once. You can also put basins of water in the greenhouse.
If the ovaries have stopped growing and some have begun to fall off, turn yellow, you need to urgently feed the cucumbers. At this stage, the garden culture needs phosphorus. Feeding with phosphorus-containing fertilizers will help solve the problem (4 tablespoons of superphosphate per 10 liters of water). Watering cucumbers with such a composition should be no more than 1 time in 10 days.
If the ovaries do not grow and turn yellow, they fall off, this indicates a boron deficiency. It is necessary to feed the culture with boric acid, after dissolving 10 ml of a 10% boric acid solution in 10 liters of water. This composition should be well sprayed with cucumbers. It is worth repeating the procedure in a week.
With boron deficiency, the set fruits do not grow and begin to wither
To feed the cucumbers during the fruiting period, I use ash instead of chemistry. I pour 5 liters of water into a glass of ash. I leave it in a dark room for 2 days, and after that I dilute 3 glasses of infusion in 10 liters of water and water the cucumbers with this solution.
The use of organic fertilizers (manure, chicken droppings) is not advisable at this stage. Such dressings contribute to the growth of green mass and do not have a significant effect on the growth of fruits.
If there are a lot of ovaries on the cucumbers, but they do not grow, it is necessary, if possible, to provide them with optimal conditions for normal development, pay attention to the timely introduction of fertilizing and adherence to the rules of agricultural technology for this crop.
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Cucumbers love bright, but diffused light, and they react to direct sunlight that burns them in hot summer weather with increased production of cucurbitacin. Zelens, which are directly illuminated by the sun, are especially bitter. Therefore, it is often possible to find fruits of different taste on the same bush: those that were shaded by the foliage turn out to be quite edible, and those that have been “fried” in the sun all the time are unbearably bitter.
Direct sunlight adds bitterness to the greens
Cucumbers growing in exactly opposite conditions also have a bitter taste - with insufficient lighting, the fault of which was a thickened planting of plants or strong shading by taller neighbors.
Start taking care of the good taste of cucumbers from the moment you plant the plants. Do not thicken the plants and plant seeds or seedlings in the garden at intervals of 20-30 cm in the row and 40-50 cm in the aisles. Pinch long-leaved varieties in time and do not let the shoots grow more than 1.5-2 m.
Ideal light conditions for this crop are created in a polycarbonate greenhouse - the material of this construction gives a bright, but diffused light. In hot weather, the ceiling and walls of a glass greenhouse can be whitewashed or shaded from the outside with light sheets.
In a polycarbonate greenhouse, the light is bright, but diffused
To reduce the detrimental effect of direct sunlight on open field cucumbers, corn or sunflower is planted in advance on the southern side of the garden. Plants, fixed on a trellis, can be easily protected from the scorching sun by throwing a lightweight non-woven material over the upper crossbar of the structure.
The main factor that, according to the observations of vegetable growers, contributes to the appearance of bitterness is hot and dry weather. Even if there is dry weather with an abundance of sun for one week, the number of bitter cucumbers will increase significantly.
Violation of the irrigation regime. Regardless of whether the gardener has overdone the moisture or overdried the plants, the result will be a bitter harvest. Over-watering with a hose is considered the most dangerous, as the tap water is too aggressive and cold for this crop.
At any stage of growth, it is dangerous to "flood" the plants. The fact is that the root system of cucumbers is very delicate and sensitive. It is close to the surface and can be damaged with a large amount of moisture.
If the soil is too dry, the root hairs, which are responsible for the transport of moisture and nutrition of the ground part, also die off. As a result, the plant does not receive the substances it needs and experiences stress. And as a result, there is an enhanced formation of the anti-stress substance cucurbitacin.
Errors in feeding. Cucumbers react equally badly to depleted soil and to excessive feeding.Especially often, unpleasant bitterness appears with an imbalance of nitrogen in the soil. Too active manure fertilizers can lead to the same effect.
Excess or lack of lighting. Cucumber is a light-loving plant. Gardeners know this and do not care about its protection from ultraviolet radiation. However, direct sunlight can be aggressive for a green vegetable. Fruits that are in direct sunlight for a long time are usually bitter.
Stress, which plants experience. The vegetable has a fine organization. Any unexpected situation - from gusts of wind or a sharp cold snap to careless actions of a person, can plunge him into a state of stress.
In a greenhouse, this risk is much lower. But there it is quite possible, careless handling of a person or too dense arrangement of shoots.
Features of the variety plants. Each variety carries certain genetic information. The tendency to accumulate cucurbitacin is one such inherited trait.
Many traditional varieties are more tender and sensitive, so they often respond to negative conditions with a bitter taste. Some species are prone to the formation of cucubitacin in their composition, while others are not.
There are several additional factors that can also lead to the formation of cucurbitacin in greenhouse cucumbers:
It has been noticed that the seeds located in the fruits closer to the tail receive a certain dose of cucurbitacin when ripe. This property is passed on to new plants.
If you take into account all the above recommendations and provide the plants with proper care, you can get tasty, juicy fruits without a bitter aftertaste.
There are different reasons why cucumbers taste bitter:
In order to get a good and tasty harvest, during the period of ovary formation, the plant must be watered directly at the root. In addition, the leaves are washed with water. This is especially necessary on hot days.
An increase in cucurbitacin can be caused by inaccurate harvesting. For example, twisting lashes with cucumbers and damaging them. Sudden changes in temperature: the onset of cold weather after a heat can provoke an increase in cucurbitacin.
In appearance, bitter cucumbers are no different from ordinary ones. These are fruits with a crispy crust and aroma. But this is not a problem, you can just peel off the peel and eat the vegetable peeled. True, all the nutrients are concentrated in the peel.
Cucurbitacin can decompose during heat treatment, so bitter cucumbers can be safely preserved or pickled.
Can the taste of a cucumber be influenced? Thanks to the efforts of breeders, varieties with sweet fruits were bred - Liliput, Shchedryk, Harmonist, Quadrille, Berendey and Egoza. To obtain these hybrids, varieties with a minimum content of cucurbitacin were used. The fruits of these varieties never taste bitter, but they are not suitable for canning.
Finally, I will highlight the main procedures and approaches that will help you collect a bountiful and tasteful crop of zelents:
Bitterness in greenery is a common problem that overtakes beginners and experienced gardeners. It's all about the wrong choice of variety, wrong care of greenhouse plantings. Therefore, it is so important not to forget about the basic rules of growing from the seedling stage. But if something didn't work out for you and the cucumbers turned out to be bitter, this is not a reason to be upset - during heat treatment, the unpleasant aftertaste goes away.