A bitter taste in cucumbers is the result of stress that can
be caused by a number of factors, including heredity,
moisture, temperature, soil characteristics, and disease.
Most often this occurs during the hot part of the summer
or later in the growing season.
Two compounds, cucurbitacins B and C, give rise to the
bitter taste. Though often only the stem end is affected, at
times the entire fruit is bitter. Also, most of the bitter taste
is found in and just under the skin. Removing the stem
end and the skin can often help salvage bitter fruit.
Bitter fruit is not the result of cucumbers cross-pollinating with squash or melons. These plants
cannot cross-pollinate with one another.
Often newer varieties are less likely to become bitter than older ones. Proper cultural care is also
often helpful. Make sure plants have the following:
– Well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Plenty of organic matter also helps.
– Mulch. Mulch helps conserve moisture and keeps roots cool during hot, dry weather.
– Adequate water especially during the fruiting season.
– Disease and insect control.
Ward Upham- K-State Research and Extension