Easy Eating with Burpless Cucumbers

You’ve probably noticed that cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) sometimes make you burp. This is due to the presence of cucurbitacin in the fruit, a bitter substance produced naturally by cucumbers and other cucurbits as a protection against insects and other pests (it would appear it causes distress in bugs too!). But cucumbers can be easy to digest or not so easy to digest, depending on their growing conditions. During periods of heat and drought, the amount of cucurbitacin increases in the fruit, leaving a bitter and unpleasant taste… and causes belching in sensitive individuals. To help avoid this problem, mulch the base of the plant (this will keep it cooler) and make sure to water it before it suffers from drought. This should give you cucumbers that are reasonably easy to digest.

Or plant bitterfree cucumbers. Also known as burpless cucumbers, these are cultivars in which cucurbitacin is naturally reduced or absent. Since this is the season for buying cucumber seeds – and since it will soon be time to sow them – here is a list burpless cucumbers to look for.

‘Beit Alpha’
‘Big Burpless’
‘Burpless Beauty’
‘Burpless Bush’
‘Burpless Tasty Green’
‘English Telegraph’
‘Garden Sweet Burpless Hybrid’
‘Green Knight
‘Marketmore 80’
‘Orient Express’
‘Palace King’
‘Suyo Long’
‘Sweet Burpless’
‘Sweet Slice’
‘Sweet Success’
‘Sweeter Yet’
‘Summer Dance’
‘Tasty Green’
‘Tendergreen’ (‘Tendergreen Burpless’)

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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