Harvesting & storing cucumbers


With a passion for growing installed at an early age, I have always been happiest outdoors in nature. After training as a professional gardener and horticultural therapist, I currently run horticultural therapy and community kitchen gardens in the UK, helping others access the many physical and mental health benefits of growing vegetables, fruit and plants.

Favourite fruit: apples and pears
Favourite vegetable: asparagus

Cucumbers can crop from mid-summer right up until autumn, producing delicious, fresh and crisp fruits to enjoy. We will show you how and when to harvest and store cucumbers, so your precious crop does not go to waste.

Harvested cucumbers in a basket
Cucumbers can crop from summer until autumn [Photo: vaivirga/ Shutterstock.com]

Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are one of the most popular summer crops to grow at home, especially if you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse. Cucumbers come in a variety of sizes, so there is something for every taste. They are easily damaged and spoil if not harvested and stored properly. Read on to find out more about how to harvest and store your cucumber crop for later enjoyment.

Harvesting cucumbers

Depending on the growing conditions, cucumber plants can produce cucumbers ready to harvest in as little as 12 weeks from sowing and, if picked regularly, can keep producing until the end of the growing season.

When are cucumbers ready to pick?

Cucumber plants, if sown in February or March and grown undercover, can produce pickable cucumbers from as early as June right up until early October. However, for outdoor-grown cucumbers, the season is slightly shorter, ending in September when the night temperatures begin to fall.

A hand harvesting a cucumber
Cucumbers can be harvested with a clean and sharp pair of secateurs [Photo: 21March/ Shutterstock.com]

So, when are my cucumbers ready to pick? The answer lies in the cucumber variety, as they are generally ready and best to eat when they reach their mature size as specified on the seed packet and are green and firm to the touch, but not yet hard-skinned. Smaller varieties, which are popular among home growers, mature faster than longer fruiting cultivars and may need picking more regularly. Picking the young and tender fruits regularly may also encourage the plant to produce more flowers, extending the harvest season.

Cucumbers can be harvested as needed, but do not leave them too long as their skins can become tough and require peeling off before eating, as well as developing a rather bitter taste.

Tip: To encourage cucumber plants to keep cropping throughout the season, it is important to feed them every two weeks with the nutrients they require. Our Plantura Liquid Tomato Food is easy to apply and is ideal for encouraging plentiful cucumbers all season long. Find out more about feeding cucumbers in our expert article.

Liquid Tomato Food, 800ml
Liquid Tomato Food, 800ml
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  • Perfect for tomatoes & other vegetables
  • Liquid fertiliser for healthy plant growth & an abundant harvest
  • Quick & easy application - child & pet friendly

How to harvest cucumbers?

Cucumbers are best picked early in the day, either by hand or with a sharp and clean pair of secateurs or knife.

To pick a cucumber with a knife or secateurs, simply cut the stem, leaving roughly 1 cm of stem attached to the cucumber. To harvest cucumbers by hand, simply pinch through the stem with your fingernails; however, there is a risk of damaging the stems when picking by hand, especially as the plants mature and the stems become thicker. For this reason, we recommend cutting the cucumbers off the plants.

How to store cucumbers

Cucumbers are generally best eaten straight off the vine because nothing beats a homegrown fresh crisp cucumber. However, if you are wondering how to best store cucumbers, they can be stored somewhere cool or preserved if you have a real glut of cucumbers.

Cucumbers will not last long if left out at room temperature; the most they will last before becoming soft is a couple of days, possibly less if it is hot.

Cucumbers are ideally kept at a temperature of just over 10 °C , as storing them below this temperature can cause them to deteriorate. A cool larder is ideal and a great place to store your cucumbers after they have been washed and dried.

To preserve your cucumbers for a longer period of time, you can pickle them, make relish, or even freeze them. Cucumbers can be frozen despite their high water content, but they must be eaten quickly after thawing to avoid becoming mushy.

Cucumbers laid in a tray
Once harvested, cucumbers need to be stored correctly to prevent spoilage [Photo: Tavrius/ Shutterstock.com]

Can I keep cucumbers in the refrigerator?

Without a larder, most of us keep our cucumbers in our fridges, which are typically set to below 10°C to keep food safe. Cucumbers can be kept in the fridge, though it is not ideal. If you are wondering how long cucumbers will last in the fridge, the answer is one to two weeks, potentially longer if wrapped in clingfilm. It is best to store cucumbers in the warmest section of the fridge if possible.

How healthy are cucumbers?

Cucumbers are a great fruit because they are not only delicious but also high in nutrients and vitamins. Cucumbers are low in calories but high in fibre, and they contain vitamins B, C and K, as well as essential minerals like magnesium and potassium. They are also great for staying hydrated as they are 95 % water, making them a perfect snack on a hot summer’s day.

Preparing and slicing cucumbers
Cucumbers have a high water content and are full of vitamins and nutrients [Photo: 271 EAK MOTO/ Shutterstock.com]

If all of this has made you wonder how to care for your cucumbers to get the best harvest, check out our article on how to prune your cucumbers. Pruning cucumbers properly can help ensure a bumper crop and prevent disease.

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