Tips to help you store your cucumbers to make them last for weeks. Here’s how to store them in the refrigerator, on the counter and in the freezer.
Cucumbers are a popular veggie in salads, sandwiches, wraps, pickled, and even eaten on their own. Cucumbers, like iceberg lettuce, contain 96% water per volume. This beats out even the popular melon with “water” in its name, by 4% per volume.
They are healthy and tasty, but that high water volume can lead to problems when trying to store them for an extended period of time. Here’s the best ways to store cucumbers to make them last.
What’s the best way to store fresh cucumbers?
Fresh cucumbers, once they are brought home or in from your garden, should be washed off and dried first and foremost. Once they are totally dry, wrap them in paper towels or a tea towel and then place them in a bag. The towel will help absorb any excess outside moisture while storing them.
Do not seal the bag though, keep it open a little bit. Cucumbers need to stay dry and that requires some air circulation. Cucumbers also like it cool (have you heard the phrase “Cool as a Cucumber”?), but not too cold. They are prone to “chilling injuries” at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit such as accelerated decay, wilting, and pitting.
Keep them separated from any other fruits and veggies that produce a lot of ethylene gas. Cucumbers are incredibly sensitive to this ripening gas. They won’t last as long if they are stored close to bananas, tomatoes, and melons.
How long do cucumbers last in the fridge?
Cucumbers can last about 2 weeks at maximum quality before they start to soften. Due to their high water content, the quicker you use a fresh cucumber, the better. Chilling cucumbers in the fridge can make them last, but only if you do so carefully.
As it was mentioned above, temperatures below 50 degrees can injure the cukes. Make sure the fresh whole cucumbers are washed and thoroughly dried. Then wrap them gently in something to minimize moisture accumulation and place them in their own open bag.
Store them toward the middle of the fridge, as it is often too cold at the bottom. And keep them toward the front of the fridge as it is also colder at the back of the fridge. Stored this way, fresh whole cucumbers can last around 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator, though it is best to use them as soon as possible.
Cucumbers can be stored in the crisper drawer unwashed for around the same amount of time, but be weary of how cold the crisper drawer gets and what other vegetables you’re storing them with. The crisper keeps the air circulating around the cukes to prevent rot, but it can be too cold down there. It’s best to test and see what works best with your home and your personal fridge.
Even something as simple as the changing seasons can affect where is best to store these water-rich veggies. It is important to note that many store-bought cucumbers have an edible wax coating. This will help preserve them longer but adds a bland flavor. Simply scrub them gently with a little detergent and water to remove it right before using your cucumber.
How to Store Cucumbers After Cutting
Your best option when using cucumber is to only cut exactly what you need. Any leftover is best kept as whole as possible to keep it fresher longer. Rinse and dry cucumbers before cutting or peeling them. But if you find that you have too many slices leftover, there are a number of ways you can save them for later use.
Once cucumbers lose the protection of their outer skin, the clock starts ticking. If you have a large section that is left over, simply cover the end in plastic wrap and store until you can use the rest.
One thing that is simple to do is to place a damp paper towel in an airtight container, stack the cut cucumber on top, seal it and keep it near the middle-top and front of the fridge shelves. Once they are cut, they need to retain their moisture, so they need a damp, not soaked, towel to help them not dry out and wilt. Even then, you probably need to use them within the next 3-4 days.
How to Use Cucumber Slices
Give yourself a spa day with a couple of extra slices and use the rest for some delicious “spa” water. Just take those extra cucumber slices and toss them in a pitcher of water. Slice up some lemon and apples to add as well, if you have them. Let them sit in the water for at least an hour to release their nutrients and flavors. Then simply enjoy the refreshing result. Flavored spa water will stay good, leaving the slices in it, for 3-4 days.
You can also rub slices with lemon juice and salt to extend their life in the fridge. The lemon acts as a natural preservative, as does the salt, and will keep them crisp and fresh for an extra couple of days. Plus they taste delicious. Feel free to use them smoothies, chilled soups, or even cocktails.
Can you store cucumbers at room temperature?
So long as they are kept away from ethylene producing fruits and veggies, cucumbers actually do quite well at room temperature. It’s best to keep them out of any direct light and separated from any other fruits and veggies. The trick of wrapping them each in a paper towel and keeping them in an open bag also will also help to keep them fresher on the counter top.
Can you freeze whole cucumbers?
Despite their high water content, yes, whole cucumbers can be frozen. They can be popped right into the freezer (peeling is optional) or stored in an airtight freezer bag or container. Once defrosted, however, they will not stay crisp and have their usual crunchy texture. They will, however, retain their delicious flavor and are perfect for smoothies or fruit water.
How to Use Frozen Cucumbers
There are many ways to use frozen cucumbers. You can freeze individual slices in ice cubes to use in your drinks. Frozen cucumber spears are great for snacking on, or popping into a green smoothie. They can be easily be minced up for gazpacho or Tzatziki as well. Frozen cucumber spears are also perfect for teething babies, as they are too large to swallow, but easy to hold, tasty, and easy to gum.
Use pureed cucumber to make cucumber popsicles for a refreshing icy treat. You can grate the cucumber, divide the pieces into sections of an ice cube tray, and freeze them. Then when you want to use some, pull out a cube and let it defrost over a salad or whatever dish you want.
What To Do With Lots of Cucumbers?
If you have a lot of cucumbers, pickle them. Seriously, just go pickle crazy! Most people pickle their cucumbers in a water brine or vinegar. Pickles can be made shelf-stable with canning or be stored in the fridge for a few weeks. Make sure to check out my favorite pickle recipes below!
I hope these tips help you on storing your cucumber to make them last longer!
Here’s some of my favorite recipes to use with our garden cucumbers.
- Half Sour Pickles (one of my most popular recipes!)
- No Canning Dill Hamburger Pickles
- Cucumber Peppermint Tea
- Frosted Cucumber Cookies
- Sugar Glazed Cucumber Bread
- Tuna Cucumber Tomato Salad
- Asian Marinated Cucumbers
More Tips on How to Store Vegetables
How to Store Garlic For a Long Time
How to Store Carrots for Months
How to Freeze Broccoli for Long-Term Use
Freezing Tomatoes for Year-Round Use
Store Potatoes Perfectly for a Long Time
How to Store Lettuce to Last for a Month
How to Freeze Zucchini Without Blanching
How to Freeze Peaches
How To Store Onions Using Pantyhose