Belch No More 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, one of the bitterest substances 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 burpless cucumbers. They have a genetic mutation that reduces or eliminates cucurbitacin in the fruit, making them less likely to cause belching, although the leaves still produce it.

Some entire classes of cucumber are burpless. English, Japanese, Lebanese and Persian cucumbers are all easily digested, as are Armenian cucumbers, also called yard-long cucumbers, which are actually a different species (C. melo flexuosus). However, there are plenty of good ol’ garden-variety slicing cucumbers that won’t make you burp … if you grow them with care.

You Choose!

‘Garden Sweet Burpless Hybrid’ is a typical burpless cucumber. Photo:

In this season when it’s time to buy vegetable seeds for the summer garden, here are some burpless varieties to look for.

‘Beit Alpha’
‘Big Burpless’
‘Burpless Beauty’
‘Burpless Bush’
‘Burpless Hybrid’
‘Burpless No. 26’ or  ‘Burpless #26’
‘Burpless Tasty Green’
‘Chelsea Prize’
‘Chinese Snake’
‘Cool Breeze’
‘County Fair’
‘Early Spring Burpless’
‘English Telegraph’
‘Garden Sweet Burpless Hybrid’
‘Green Knight’
‘Marketmore 80’
‘Orient Express’
‘Palace King’
‘Spring Burpless’
‘Suyo Long’
‘Sweet Burpless’
‘Sweet Slice’
‘Sweet Success’
‘Sweeter Yet’
‘Summer Dance’
‘Tasty Green’
‘Tendergreen’ (‘Tendergreen Burpless’)

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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