You’ve probably noticed that cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) sometimes make you burp. This is due to the presence of cucurbitacin in the fruit, one of the bitterest substance known to humans. Cucurbitacin is present in wild cucumbers where it serves to protect the plant against predation, but at a reduced rate in cultivated cucumbers. However, in most garden-grown cucumbers, the amount of cucurbitacin will increase when the plant is suffering from heat and drought, giving the fruit a bitter and unpleasant taste… and also causing belching in sensitive individuals.
To help avoid this problem, always mulch the base of the plant to keep its roots cooler and be sure to water it so it never suffers from drought. Or you can plant bitterfree cucumbers, also known as burpless cucumbers. They have a genetic mutation that reduces or eliminates cucurbitacin in the fruit, although the leaves still produce it.
In this season when it’s time to buy vegetable seeds for the summer garden, here are some burpless varieties to look for.
‘Burpless Tasty Green’
‘Garden Sweet Burpless Hybrid’
‘Tendergreen’ (‘Tendergreen Burpless’)