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Some of the best tips for harvesting cucumbers are to pick them before maturity, harvest frequently, and try to harvest in the early morning. Cucumbers are usually picked and eaten before they are fully mature to avoid eating hard seeds. It is also sometimes necessary to pick frequently, especially if the gardener has a large cucumber patch, because cucumbers grow faster than many other vegetables. Experts tend to recommend harvesting cucumbers in the early morning before they are heated by the afternoon sun. In addition, it is normal for freshly picked cucumbers to look different than imported cucumbers sold in local grocery stores.
Cucumbers can be picked at any stage of their development, but they should be picked before they are fully mature. Fully mature cucumbers have hard seeds that are noticeable when consumed, and removing the seeds of a cucumber can be a time-consuming process. Immature cucumbers are perfect for pickling, salads, and soups because they have soft seeds that become even softer in some dishes. A tell-tale sign of a too-mature cucumber is its color. Green and green-white cucumbers are usually ready to eat, while yellow cucumbers are mature.
When harvesting cucumbers for the first time, gardeners might be surprised at how fast the plant can grow. During the harvesting weeks, the cucumbers may need to be harvested every day or every other day because of how fast they are capable of growing. Neglecting to harvest frequently can lead to harvesting cucumbers that are too big or too mature for their intended purpose.
Cucumbers are best stored in the refrigerator in a loose, breathable bag. To avoid raising the temperature of a refrigerator by much, cucumbers should be harvested in the early morning or at night when the vegetable is the coolest. They are crispest when eaten within three days of being picked and stored, but their quality is still great for the first week. Pickling the cucumbers extends their life by several months to one year, depending on the method and how well it is performed.
Gardeners need not worry about their cucumbers not looking like grocery store cucumbers. Cucumbers sold in grocery stores are usually coated with wax to protect them from moisture loss, but the wax makes them much shinier than usual. This wax can be removed by peeling the cucumber or gently scrubbing the skin with a bristled-brush under running water. Harvesting cucumbers fresh from the field yields dull green vegetable.
I like to pick some of my cucumbers as soon as they are big enough to eat. Not only does this allow me to enjoy young, juicy cucumbers, but it also promotes the growth of new fruit. Later in the season, I harvest a large bunch of cucumbers all at one time for pickling and canning.
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