One of the many questions I receive from fellow gardeners is, “why do cucumbers turn yellow?” or, “are orange cucumbers safe to eat?”
The confusion is valid because you grow this vegetable hoping to get long, beautiful green cucumbers. But all you see are deformed orangish-hued balls.
So, why does that happen, and can you even eat them? Let’s find it.
Why are Cucumbers Orange or Yellow?
There are several possible causes for a cucumber to change color. However, one of the primary reasons is harvesting too late. Their color initially begins to fade, turning yellow and then orange over time.
In this section, I’ll take you through all the other reasons why cucumbers start losing their natural green color.
1. Cucumbers are Over Ripe
The primary cause of cucumbers turning orange is that you have waited too long to harvest them. When cucumbers are left on vines even after maturing, they start changing their shape and color. They also begin to taste bitter.
One of the best ways to prevent this problem is to harvest them right after they ripen. Depending on the cucumber variety, you can pick them off the vines 50-70 days after planting.
Cucumbers are ready to be picked when they seem firm and look vibrant to dark green.
Moreover, harvesting cucumbers regularly stimulates the plant to produce more fruit. Leaving them to overgrow restricts the ability to produce more fruit, which is another good reason to harvest on time.
2. Lack of Pollination
Cucumbers need sufficient pollination to develop into the right shape and color. And sometimes, the reason for orangish and malformed cucumbers is improper pollination. Each flower must be pollinated numerous times for the proper development of fruit.
There are quite a few ways to attract pollinators. Some of them are as follows:
- Develop the habit of leaving water for pollinators in a separate dish. Water can be placed in a bowl or container. Ensure that it has shallow edges to protect bees from drowning in the water in utensils.
- It is best to avoid using pesticides as much as possible because they are harmful to pollinators, especially honey bees. They can also impact the soil’s PH balance.
- Pollinators hang around flowering plants. So, you can grow such plants as sunflowers and zinnias in your gardening area to attract them.
3. Lack of Nutrients and Improper Fertilizing
Sometimes, the nutritional needs of cucumber plants are not met. And it explains why fruits and foliage become lighter in color. What you can do is start paying heed to their nutritional needs and buy a high-quality fertilizer to use at planting time.
Espoma Organic Garden-Tone (Buy this product here) is an excellent fertilizer for cucumber and other crops. Made with 100% natural ingredients, this product can fulfill the nutritional demands of your plants and promote vigorous growth.
The fact that this fertilizer is devoid of additives and that your plants will begin to bloom approximately 10 days after using it is what I love most about it. Apart from fertilizer, you can add organic matter or compost to the soil.
You can fertilize the cucumber plant at planting time, after blooming, and once a month during their growing period for best outcomes.
It is a mistake that beginners make the most. Indeed, a plant’s primary need is water. However, it’s imperative to know that excessive watering does more harm than good.
For instance, it depletes the soil of vital nutrients, which results in the yellowing of the leaves. In that situation, you must reevaluate your watering strategy and, if necessary, scale it back.
Under extremely hot conditions, cucumbers need 2 inches of water per week. And in regular temperatures, they only need 1 inch of water.
5. Viral Diseases
The final possible reason for color lightening could be a viral cucumber disease, like the cucumber mosaic virus. The only way to deal with it is to remove the plant as soon as you spot a symptom.
Lastly, I would like to mention that some cucumber varieties are supposed to be yellow. Many varieties, like Lemon Yellow and Yellow Submarine, produce yellow fruit. It is important to note that there is nothing wrong with them, and they don’t have a bitter taste.
So, before starting with anything, check the label to know if you are growing a yellow cucumber plant. And if that’s not the case, one of the factors on the list above should be the cause.
Also read: Can You Pickle Bitter Cucumbers? What to Expect?
Are Orange Cucumbers Safe to Eat?
Yes, orange cucumbers are safe to eat. However, cucumbers that are over-ripe and have grown for longer than necessary are unpleasant to consume.
So, you might not want to continue eating them because of the taste.
How Do Orange Cucumbers Taste?
Orange cucumbers taste like cucumbers but are comparatively bitter. You certainly won’t enjoy eating them because they have a bitter flavor and will give you a bad aftertaste.
Can You Get Diarrhea from Eating Orange Cucumbers?
It might surprise you that cucumbers can cause diarrhea. However, it only happens if you are sensitive to cucurbitacin. It is a chemical compound in the cucumber that can cause stomach pain, gas, and diarrhea.
Although cucumbers aid digestion and relieve constipation through their water and fiber content, cucurbitacin sensitivity still exists.
Are Orange Cucumbers as Nutritious as Green Cucumbers?
Yes, orange cucumbers contain as much nutritional value as green cucumbers. However, they taste bitter, making them difficult to eat.
What are The Best Uses of Orange Cucumbers?
Some people throw them away. But many people store overripe cucumbers to use in pickles. This tradition has been around for a very long time.
So, here is a recipe I know and would love to share with you if you’re thinking about storing them.
The ingredients you need for this recipe are:
- Peeled, seeded, over-ripe cucumbers
- Water (8 cups)
- Sugar (4 cups)
- Pickling salt (½ cup)
- Cider vinegar (3 cups)
- Ground cloves (¾ tsp)
- Ground cinnamon(½ tsp)
And here is how you are supposed to make this sweet pickle:
- Take a large stock pot and fill it with water and salt. Now, start mixing and keep it going until the salt dissolves.
- Cut cucumbers into large pieces, peel them off, and add them to this water-filled pot. Leave them for 10-13 hours here.
- Next, take cucumbers out and rinse them.
- Now put vinegar, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and water into another large pot.
- Put rinsed cucumbers in this pot and boil this mixture.
- Fill into pristine pint jars. Add the vinegar syrup over top.
And that’s pretty much it. It is how you can utilize over-ripe yellow/orange cucumbers. You can choose from a variety of pickle recipes that are available online.
I hope my answer to this frequently asked question was helpful.
Yellow and orange-colored cucumbers are the symptom of over-ripeness. Your cucumbers may change color for several causes. Each issue has a different solution, and you can combat it accordingly.
And although you can still eat these cucumbers as a snack or add them to sandwiches or salads, you won’t want to continue due to their bitter flavor.
But you don’t have to worry about your cucumbers getting wasted. You can still cut and preserve them for delicious pickles.
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