For Epicurious, by Anna Stockwell.
Summer salads and crudité platters (or hello, new favorite ritual of the summer, le grand aioli) just wouldn’t be the same without crispy, crunchy, ice-cold cucumbers, right? Notice that I didn’t even mention the flavor of cucumbers — that’s how big a role texture plays in the appeal of a cucumber. But all too often, I find those bags of mini seedless cucumbers getting slimy and limp in the back of my crisper drawer before I even have a chance to dip them into my favorite hummus. And that’s just sad — if cucumbers aren’t nice and crunchy, there’s really no point.
But cukes can stay perfectly crunchy in the fridge for at least a week if you know how to store cucumbers the right way. Ready to join the cool-as-a-cucumber (sorry, had to) pro club? Here’s how to do it:
1. CLEAN THOSE CUKES
When you bring your cucumbers home from (or harvest them from your garden perhaps, you lucky duck?), remove them from whatever packaging they came in (if any) and give them a rinse. You want to wash off any dirt or grime, and yes, even the vacuum-sealed seedless greenhouse cucumbers need to have their wrappers removed. If you see any mushy or moldy spots, cut the bad side off and eat that cucumber today. If they’re nice and clean and fresh, they’re ready to store.
“If you see any mushy or moldy spots, cut the bad side off and eat that cucumber today.”
2. KEEP THEM DRY
Make sure your cucumbers are thoroughly dry before you store them: excess water on the surface encourages spoiling. Once they’re dry, wrap them in a clean dish towel or paper towel — this will help keep any condensation or humidity at bay when you store them, which helps prevent sogginess, mold, and overall deterioration. The same practice works great for leafy greens, herbs, and any tender vegetable you want to protect in your fridge.
3. TUCK THEM INSIDE A BAG
Take your dry, wrapped cucumbers and tuck them inside a plastic bag like you’re tucking your swaddled baby into bed. You do not need to use a resealable plastic bag: a little airflow is a good thing, since it helps prevent condensation from collecting around your swaddled cucumber babies. If all you’ve got is a resealable plastic bag, just keep it open at the top.
Storing cucumbers in plastic also helps protect them from ethylene gas produced by fruits such as melons that you might have in your fridge. Cucumbers are especially sensitive to over-ripening and spoiling when exposed to this gas, so check this list of fruits and vegetables that release it and try to keep them separate from those cukes.
4. KEEP THEM COLD, BUT NOT TOO COLD
Put that bag into your fridge — but not the coldest part of your fridge, and most certainly not into the freezer. (Do you ever accidentally put things in the freezer thinking you’re putting things in the fridge, or is that just me?) The crisper drawer is an excellent place if you’ve got room in there. Your cucumbers should be safe and sound for about a week now, and you can keep grabbing them to make refreshing salads, relish, soup, and even cocktails, throughout the week. If you use half of cucumber, just cover the exposed end with a little bit of plastic wrap and pop it back into its swaddling in the bag. Once you start storing cucumbers the right way, you should never have to be disappointed by a squishy, moldy surprise again.
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