We Stored Cucumbers 9 Different Ways and the Winning Method Kept Them Fresh for More than 2 Weeks
Summer is just around the corner, and one of my favorite summer ingredients has to be cucumbers. Their crunch is irresistible, and when served cold they’re downright refreshing. They make for such beautiful summer salads, whether paired with lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe, herbs, whole grains, or tomatoes and onions. And they’re wonderful as is, simply sliced and sprinkled with a little flaky salt — one of my easy, go-to, family-friendly summer sides on busy weeknights.
Now, when you’re looking forward to a fresh cucumber dish gracing your plate, nothing is worse than finding your cuke slimy, squishy, or both. You would swear that you just bought those cucumbers a couple of days ago, right? Well, the way you store those fruits can have a big impact on how long they stay crisp and fresh.
To find out which storage methods work best, I scoured the internet in search of recommendations. I found some good ones to try, and I also supplemented with some “real world” methods — meaning ways I’ve seen people store their cucumbers in real life. With nine methods to try, I eagerly set about trying them out.
So, What’s the Best Way to Store Cucumbers?
I must have purchased really fresh cucumbers because they all lasted at least a full seven days, which was longer than I had expected. But the two ways that kept the cucumbers freshest the longest both involve refrigerator storage and a zip-top bag: wrapping cukes individually in paper towels and stashing in a sealed bag, or simply placing them in a sealed bag with a metal spoon. Read on to learn how long these methods kept the cucumbers in good shape and see how other methods fared as well.
A Few Notes on Methodology
Cucumbers: I tested each method with four types of cucumbers: a traditional thick-skinned cucumber, an English cucumber (removed from its plastic wrapping and prepared per the method’s instructions), a Persian/mini cucumber, and a pickling cucumber. I sought out the freshest, firmest cucumbers I could find.
Tests: I checked on all of the cucumbers every morning, looking for signs of deterioration. I “called it” when the cucumbers were simply too far gone to use; if I thought I could slice off a small, mild bad spot and use the rest of the cucumber in a salad, I let it keep going.
Environments: For the one room-temperature test, I left the cucumbers on my kitchen counter in a spot out of direct sunlight; my room temperature averages 71°F. Most of the tests took place in my refrigerator, which is set to a temperature of 37°F. My vegetable crisper is set to maintain high humidity levels.
Ratings: Each method is rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the perfect ideal. I judged each method on one criteria: how long the cucumbers stayed fresh.
Cucumber Storage Method: On the Counter, at Room Temperature
- How long they lasted: 7 days
- Rating: 5/10
About this method: We reported on this method, one that Root Simple explains comes from a study by the Post Harvest Technology department at the University of California, Davis. The study showed that cucumbers suffer when exposed to temperatures below 50°F (well above what most fridges are set to) for more than three days. The “cold injuries” displayed include accelerated decay, pitting on the skin, and wateriness. Because of that, the recommendation is to store cucumbers at room temperature.
Results: Had I not tested all of the other methods, I might have thought that this method was ideal, as the cucumbers held up pretty well for about a week. The conventional cucumber was the first one to show signs of rot, with a small soft spot on the end after five days. By day seven, that cucumber had some moldy soft spots on its surface, and the other cucumbers were shriveled and soft.
My takeaway: If you know you’ll use your cucumbers within a few days, they’ll fare great this way. But if you want them to last beyond a week, I’d recommend using a different method.
Cucumber Storage Method: Unwrapped in the Refrigerator Door
- How long they lasted: 7 days
- Rating: 5/10
About this method: Based on the intel that cucumbers experience damage when stored below 50°F, this method touted by Mashed instructs you to wash and dry cucumbers, then store them in the warmest part of the refrigerator: the door (or the front of the fridge). They say that storing them this way keeps them fresher longer than the room-temperature method.
Results: For me, this method kept the cucumbers good for the same amount of time as the room-temperature way — seven days. On day five, the Persian cucumber had some pitting in its skin but was still firm. Two days later, all of the cucumbers were a bit shriveled with soft spots.
My takeaway: As with the previous method, this storage technique works fine if you plan to use your cucumbers within a few days. But if your fridge is anything like mine, door space is coveted and better used for condiments, juices, wine bottles, and fizzy water.
Cucumber Storage Method: Unwrapped on the Refrigerator Shelf
- How long they lasted: 7 days
- Rating: 5/10
About this method: Granted, I couldn’t find any sources that advocate for this storage method, but it speaks to the way many people treat their cucumbers: Get them home from the store, and set them on a fridge shelf (where you can see them) so they don’t get forgotten in the crisper.
Results: After four days, all of the cucumbers started shriveling — with the exception of the conventional cucumber, which remained pristine. Over the next couple of days, all of the cucumbers’ skins slowly deteriorated, wrinkling little by little. By day seven, all of them were soft and shriveled.
My takeaway: It’s a good instinct to keep produce in your line of sight so you don’t forget about it, but cucumbers seem to need more protection from the elements. There are better ways to keep them in sight and protected at the same time.
Cucumber Storage Method: Unwrapped in the Crisper
- How long they lasted: 7 days
- Rating: 5/10
About this method: Again, there are no websites that recommend storing your cucumbers this way, but I know — because I’ve seen it at many a friend’s or relative’s house — that people do this all the time. Cukes get tossed in the drawer “naked” with no wrapping or bag.
Results: After four days, each type of cucumber looked a little withered and felt a bit soft. On day seven, they all had noticeable soft spots and squishy ends.
My takeaway: Even though they seem tucked away and protected, leaving the cucumbers unwrapped in the crisper still leaves them susceptible to the elements.
Cucumber Storage Method: Wrapped in Plastic Wrap, in the Refrigerator Door
- How long they lasted: 8 days
- Rating: 6/10
About this method: Because I tested unwrapped cucumbers stashed in the refrigerator door, I figured I should test wrapped ones stored in the same place. I made sure each cucumber was completely dry and then wrapped them individually in plastic wrap before placing them in the door.
Results: The cucumbers lasted just a bit longer — one more day — than their unwrapped counterparts. On day six, they were all in great shape: still firm, no signs of shriveling, no soft spots. On day seven, the English and conventional cucumbers started softening at their ends, and one day later, all of the cucumbers were slimy with squishy spots.
My takeaway: Although the cucumbers lasted longer than a week, they took up valuable door space, took a bit of effort, and seemed like an unnecessary use of plastic wrap. I wouldn’t use this method again.
Cucumber Storage Method: Wrapped in Paper Towels, Placed in Loose Bag in the Crisper
- How long they lasted: 10 days
- Rating: 7/10
About this method: To keep cucumbers extra crunchy, Epicurious touts this method: Wash them, thoroughly dry them, wrap them in a dish towel or paper towel, place them in an unsealed plastic bag to allow some airflow, and place them in the crisper drawer. (I used a thin, green grocery store produce bag for my tests.)
Results: On day seven, most of the cucumbers were still firm and showed no signs of deterioration. The next day, I felt some soft spots forming toward the ends of the conventional cucumber, but the rest were still in good shape. On day 10, all of the cucumbers had noticeable squishy spots.
My takeaway: Prepping the cucumbers for this technique was easy, and the cucumbers stayed fresh for a good amount of time. It’s a solid method that will keep your cukes fresh for a good bit of time.
Cucumber Storage Method: Wrapped in Plastic Wrap, in the Crisper
- How long they lasted: 12 days
- Rating: 8/10
About this method: Following the recommendation of Cook’s Illustrated, I made sure each cucumber was completely dry and then wrapped each one tightly in plastic wrap (yes, I unwrapped the English cucumber from its shrink-wrap and then re-wrapped it with my own plastic wrap). The cucumbers then went into the crisper drawer.
Results: After 10 days, there was a bit of dimpling on the conventional cucumber, but the others were pristine. Two days later, after an impressive 12 days, the cucumbers were toast (squishy and slimy).
My takeaway: I’m a believer in why Cook’s Illustrated claims this method works, as opposed another storage technique: “The plastic wrap formed an airtight second skin” that prevented moisture loss, while cucumbers they tested by storing in a sealed zip-top bag allowed moisture that evaporated from the skins to condense in the sealed environment, “providing a great atmosphere for microorganisms that cause rot.” They note that their method also works well with zucchini and summer squash. One downside to this method is that, like the other methods using single-use plastic, it feels wasteful.
Cucumber Storage Method: Sealed in Zip-Top Bag with Spoon, on Refrigerator Shelf
- How long they lasted: 15 days
- Rating: 9.5/10
About this method: This was an interesting method, one that our editors found on Facebook. (I also found that someone posted it on Reddit a few years ago.) The claim is that storing Persian cucumbers sealed in a zip-top bag with a metal spoon keeps them fresh for at least two weeks. Although the tip said it was for Persian cucumbers, of course I tried it with a conventional, English, and pickling cucumber, too. I chose to place the bag on an upper shelf in my fridge, knowing that the lower shelves are typically the coldest areas.
Results: After 11 days, I noticed some condensation on the walls of the bag, and I was afraid to reach in and touch the cucumbers (fearing a slimy mess). To my surprise, they were still firm, not at all slimy, with smooth skins. On day 14, the cucumbers started to have some soft spots on the ends (especially the conventional cuke) but still seemed usable, and the next day they were squishy and coated in an opaque white slimy film.
My takeaway: I have no idea why this method worked so well at keeping cucumbers fresh for so long and could find no explanation online. I’ll admit I was quite skeptical, but each day as I found the cucumbers to still be firm, fresh, and lovely, I became more of a believer. This method proved to be a winner.
Cucumber Storage Method: Wrapped in Paper Towels, Sealed in Zip-Top Bag, on Fridge Shelf
- How long they lasted: 16 to 19 days (see notes below)
- Rating: 10/10
About this method: I read about this method on MyRecipes (they discovered the tip from MelanieCooks). The method has you wrap each cucumber individually in a paper towel, place them together in a zip-top bag, seal the bag, and store in the fridge (I chose an upper shelf).
Results: On day eight, there was noticeable condensation on the inside walls of the bag, which worried me; the paper towels were moist, but the cucumbers were in pristine shape. On day 15, the conventional and pickling cucumber had developed soft spots on their ends, but the English and Persian cucumbers were still perfect. On the 16th day, the conventional and pickling cucumber were too far gone (withered, with soft spots, and a little slimy), but the other two were still in great shape. I decided to see how long they would stay good, and they lasted another three days (19 days total!).
My takeaway: The towel-wrapping method was interesting. It helped to wick away the moisture that seemed to contribute to sliminess and squishy spots, and the sealed bag seemed to offer more protection than an unsealed bag. I will definitely use this method with all future cucumbers I bring home. It’s not fussy at all, and the smallest option on those select-a-size paper towels works perfectly for each cucumber. Plus, you can re-use the zip-top bag numerous times, so it’s less wasteful than the methods involving plastic wrap. (You could even reuse the paper towels for cleaning up spills.)
The Biggest Takeaways
Moisture loss, as well as moisture buildup, seems to contribute most to spoilage. Shielding cucumbers in some way — wrapping in paper towels, plastic wrap, or placing in a bag — appears to offer the longest protection, as unwrapped cucumbers tended to rot the fastest. A double layer of protection (paper towels to help wick away surface moisture, a sealed plastic bag to protect from the elements) will keep your cukes fresh for an impressive amount of time.
This post was originally published on Kitchn. Read it there: We Stored Cucumbers 9 Different Ways and the Winning Method Kept Them Fresh for More than 2 Weeks