For a cucumber plant to continuously produce flowers and fruits, you must harvest them often. You should not wait for the fruit to mature. If you miss at least one cucumber by letting it overgrow, the plant will seize flowering, and no new cucumbers will form.
What To Do With Overgrown Cucumbers
So, you found some overgrown cucumbers hiding away on your plant and wondering what to do with them? Not to worry, overgrown cucumbers are a common sight in the garden.
Some of them will just hide away and suddenly appear at the end of the growing season. All big and yellowish or even light brown.
Just don’t throw them in a bin! You can still use them! This article will go through where you can use overgrown cucumbers.
So, what can you do with overgrown cucumbers?
Let’s discuss each point in more detail.
Extract Seeds For The Next Season
The first thing you should do with overgrown cucumber is to extract seeds and dry them for the next season. With seeds from only a few cucumbers, you can fill your garden with many plants next year.
Steps to extract the cucumber seeds:
- Harvest the overripe cucumbers and leave them indoors for 2-3 days.
- Cut open them and scoop out seeds from the middle fleshy part.
- Place seeds in a sieve and run water through them.
- Rub seeds around the sieve to remove and flush the gel surrounding the seeds.
- Collect good seeds and spread them over a paper towel to dry for 5 to 7 days.
- Once the seeds are dried, place them in a paper envelope.
Store seeds in a cool and dry place and use them within the next 2-3 years.
Pro Tip: If you found an excellent cucumber plant that grows well in your area, share seeds with someone interested in gardening.
Ok, if you need only two cucumbers for seeds, what to do with all the other cucumbers, you ask? Well, let’s continue!
Pickle Overgrown Cucumbers
Pickling vegetables is a great way to preserve them for the off-season or just to have them as a snack.
Cucumbers are great for pickling as they keep their shape and remain crunchy when you eat them. If you have an abundance of overgrown cucumbers, this is the perfect time to put them to good use.
It’s a straightforward process but requires patience, time, and, most importantly, a clean kitchen environment.
You will need:
- Cucumbers (obviously!),
- Dill Flowers/Heads (optional),
- Black Pepper (optional),
- Bay Leaf (optional),
- Water (1l),
- White vinegar (150ml),
- Sugar (4 tbsp / 50g),
- Salt (1 1/2 tbsp / 20g).
The Method Is Very Simple:
- First, thoroughly wash all your tools, cucumbers, and garlic.
- Add water, white vinegar, sugar, and salt to the pot. You can also add black pepper and bay leaf to improve the taste. Heat it until it boils.
- While it is coming to a boil, peel off the thick overgrown cucumber skin. Then cut cucumbers into slices, or leave them full.
- Place a dill head (optional) and two halves of garlic per glass jar. Fill the rest of the jar with cucumbers.
- When the pickling solution is boiling, pour it into the jars.
- Disinfect jar lids with spirit wipes and cover jars with disinfected lids. Do not tighten the lids just yet. Just place them on top.
- Leave all sitting for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, pour the solution from the jars back into the pot and heat it until it boils.
- When the pickling solution is boiling, pour it into the same glass jars with cucumbers.
- Tighten the lids and leave the jars to cool down.
- After the glass jars are cool enough to handle, place them upside down for 30 minutes to see if the lids are tightened enough. If there are no leaks or bubbling, they are good to go.
- Let them sit for at least two weeks in a cool and dry place before eating.
Pro Tip 1: With this recipe, you can also pickle bitter cucumbers. The bitterness will go away in a week or so.
Make Salads From Overgrown Cucumbers
You can use overgrown cucumber in salads. The crunchy texture and juicy flavor will make it a great addition.
Before you start making your salad, I would like to point out two things:
- The cucumber you use for making salads should not be soft or bitter.
- The skin of an overgrown cucumber can be tough and woody. For the best taste, peel it off.
Here is a salad recipe that is very simple to make in ~15 minutes or less. I call it… drum roll, please…! “Cucumber salad!”
- 10 – 15 minutes
- Cucumber – 1
- Tomato – 1
- Onion – 1
- Sour Cream
- Black pepper
- White Vinegar
- Dill (optional)
- Parsley (optional)
Method of Preparation:
- Cut cucumber, tomato, and onion and throw them into a salad bowl.
- Add a bit of oil and 1 or 2 tbsp of sour cream.
- Optional but highly recommended – finely cut dill and parsley. Sprinkle them on top of other vegetables.
- Season the salad with salt and pepper, just the way you like it.
- And mix it all.
- Pour a tiny bit of white vinegar and mix it all. With vinegar added, the angry onion will become harmless 🙂
The best is to eat the salad straight after making it. If you leave it for too long, vegetables will lose their crunchiness.
Pro Tip 1: You can experiment by adding leafy greens such as lettuce, rocket, spinach, or even nasturtium.
Pro Tip 2: Add some tomato juice to your salad and mix it all. This is optional, but it will forever change the way you make salads! Try it! You can thank me later 😉
Make a Cucumber Salsa
Another option is to make salsa. It is straightforward. Slice and dice all the ingredients below, then mix it all. Enjoy!
- 1 large or 2 medium size peeled cucumbers,
- 2 medium tomatoes,
- 1/2 onion,
- 1 jalapeno pepper (2 for a better kick), seeded and minced,
- 1 clove of garlic, minced,
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice,
- 1 teaspoon of finely cut parsley,
- 1 teaspoon of finely cut dill,
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper,
- 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Mix it all and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make Relish From Overgrown Cucumbers
Make a cucumber relish that you can use on eggs, potatoes, hot dogs, burgers, sausages, or any other meats.
- 10 cucumbers, grated,
- 5 onions, finely cut,
- 2 tablespoons of salt (or as needed),
- 1 cup (~240 ml) of white vinegar,
- 3 cups (~380 g) of sugar,
- 3 cups (~720 ml) of water,
- 1/2 cup (64 g) of flour,
- 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper,
- 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric,
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger.
Grate cucumbers and onions. Mix them all with salt and pour the mixture into a colander. Place the colander over a bowl and leave it in the refrigerator overnight to drain.
Mix water, sugar, salt, vinegar, black pepper, turmeric, ginger, and flour in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and occasionally stir until all is thickened (~5 min). Add grated cucumbers and finely sliced onions. Boil for another 10 minutes.
Sterilize glass jars and lids in boiling water for 5 minutes or longer. Fill the jars with relish leaving 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe the rims and top the jars with lids.
Fill half of a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Carefully place jars with relish into the boiling water. Pour in more water until it is above the tops of the jars, and bring the water to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes.
Pro Tip: Place a kitchen towel at the bottom of the pot to stop jars from cracking when the water is boiling.
Remove jars from the pot and place them on a covered surface. After the glass jars are cool enough to handle, place them upside down for 30 minutes to see if the lids are tightened enough. If there are no leaks or bubbling, they are good to go.
Let it marinate for about two weeks before eating.
Freeze Overgrown Cucumbers For Later
Freezing foods is a very convenient way to preserve them, and it takes only a few minutes to prepare.
The easiest way to freeze cucumbers is to chop them up, bag them, and freeze them. Yes, it is that easy.
- Wash and dry the cucumbers.
- Cut the ends off and peel the skin.
- Chop them up and place chopped lettuce leaves inside a bag.
- The best bag to use is a freezer zip lock bag. You can also use any other spare, clean bag you have. You can even use containers.
- Do not overfill the bag or container. You don’t want to crush the cucumbers.
- Press the freezer bag slightly to remove as much excess air as possible. Tie off or zip-lock the bag and then freeze it.
You can store frozen cucumbers for up to 9 months.
Once you decide to unfreeze cucumbers, you can make salads, salsa, relish, sandwiches, dips, soups, stews, and much more. Be aware that the quality of the cucumbers will change. They might become soggy and lose their taste.
Compost Overgrown Cucumbers
If you are not considering eating overgrown cucumbers, don’t throw them in the bin. You can compost them like you would any other fruit or vegetable.
Just cut them into pieces and bury them in your compost. Simple!
Pro Tip: You can also bury them directly in your garden. Cucumbers will decompose and make the soil more nutritious. Just make sure you are burying away from your currently growing plants.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Happens If Cucumber Gets Too Big?
If cucumbers are left on the vine for too long, they will increase in size. Their skin will start to turn rigid and yellow. Eventually, they will become light brown and woody. This is a natural process of cucumbers going to seed.
Are Overripe Cucumbers Edible?
Yes, overripe cucumbers are edible if they are not soft or rotten. However, they do have a slightly off-taste.
But it’s not just a taste. The texture will also change. The skin will become woody, the inner part of a cucumber (where the seeds are located) will get slightly mushy, and the seeds will get harder.
It’s different but still edible. So, if you don’t want to throw overripe cucumbers into the bin, use them for cucumber pickles, salads, salsa, relish, and other dishes.
Are Overgrown Cucumbers Bitter?
If the overgrown cucumber is bitter, it is not due to overgrowth. It is bitter because of poor growing conditions that stress the plant.
The bitter taste in cucumbers comes from the presence of the naturally occurring compound called cucurbitacin. It is usually found in cucumber roots, stems, and leaves. However, cucurbitacin spreads into the fruit when plants are under stress.
Can You Preserve Big Cucumbers?
You can preserve big cucumbers by making pickles or freezing them. Freezing is the easiest way. Cutting cucumbers into slices and then just freezing them.
Avoid freezing whole cucumbers since they will become soggy on defrosting. Frozen cucumber slices can last from 6 to 9 months if stored properly.
What If My Cucumbers Turned Yellow?
There are yellow cucumber varieties. However, if yellow is not the color your cucumbers should be, it means that the fruits are going to seed.
Mature cucumbers will become light yellow. Then the skin will turn woody and eventually turn light brown.
What If My Cucumbers Grow Larger Than They’re Supposed To?
If cucumbers grow larger than they are supposed to, they are on the way to forming seeds.
To increase the harvest, you should harvest cucumbers as often as possible. If at least one cucumber goes to seed, the plant will stop producing flowers and fruits.
Can I Eat The Skins Of An Overgrown Cucumber?
Yes, you can eat the skin of an overgrown cucumber. However, it is very tough and not as tasty.
Can I Eat Seeds Of An Overgrown Cucumber?
Yes, you can eat the seeds of the overgrown cucumber. They will, however, be tough to chew.
Always try to harvest cucumbers before they are fully mature. Doing this will increase the size of your harvest.
Hopefully, you got an idea about what to do with overgrown cucumbers. If you enjoyed reading this article, check out our other similar ones in the Gardening How To section.
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