What are burpless cucumbers, and how did they get their name? There’s a new marketing trend lately, and it’s all about the new variety of cucumbers that won’t make you burp! But do they truly live up to the hype, or is this just another hoax to get gardeners on their feet?
While it’s great to explore and try new things, we should be able to scan product labels first to find out what’s inside before rushing to the counter. It’s best to be responsible buyers, especially when it comes to gardening.
Lucky for you, we’ve prepared this article to help you decide. After all, you wouldn’t want to purchase orange seeds and discover lemons on your tree years later, would you?
Now, let’s find out what makes burpless varieties stand out from regular ones.
1. Burpless cucumbers have low cucurbitacin content.
That’s the chemical responsible for the bitter taste in cucumbers.
It is naturally found in the entire family of squashes, pumpkins, melons, and gourds. The higher the temperature outside, the more it forms in cucumbers, hence the bitter flavor. The same holds true for overripe cucumbers, so don’t let your cukes get too mature before you start harvesting them!
Does this mean that less cucurbitacin = less burping?
Well, not exactly.
While various websites claim so, there’s a research study that proved otherwise. According to Todd C. Wehner, burping isn’t really associated with the high amounts of cucurbitacin, but rather with 1) the person’s tendency to burp too much after eating cucumbers and 2) the cucumber variety.
In a nutshell, cucurbitacin affects bitterness more than it affects burping.
So yes, while there is such a thing as a bitter-free cucumber, the world has yet to find out what compound makes these unique varieties “burpless”.
2. They usually grow as vining plants.
Most burpless varieties grow as either short, compact vines or long, sprawling ones. Either way, you will need to prepare some kind of support such as:
It’s best to grow cucumbers vertically rather than simply letting them sprawl on the ground. This would help keep the fruits from curling, so you could harvest straighter cucumbers later on.
Growing burpless cucumbers vertically also saves space for those with smaller gardens.
Keep in mind that burpless cucumbers require around 3 to 5 feet of garden space and prefer 6-8 hours of full sunlight to grow well. Make sure to properly set up your trellises so they get enough sunlight every day and also maintain good air circulation around the cucumber plants.
3. The fruits can grow up to 8-12 inches long.
You heard that right. Burpless cucumbers are almost as long as a ruler!
Depending on which cultivars you choose, the fruits can reach a length of around 8-12 inches on average. Not only that, they’re very productive plants that are highly resistant to various diseases, such as powdery mildew.
Burpless cucumbers are ready to be harvested around 50-70 days after sowing. You may choose to harvest the cukes when they reach 10 inches long (for slicing) or 3-4 inches long (for fresh pickling), depending on the variety and growing conditions.
4. They are known to have thinner skins.
Peeling fruits and vegetables often takes too much time, doesn’t it?
It’s a good thing we have burpless cucumber varieties then. What sets these cukes apart from the common slicing varieties are their tender, thin-skinned fruits. This means that burpless cucumbers:
- are easier to chew and prepare
- cause less digestion problems, and
- require less preparation time
You definitely won’t have to peel another cucumber in your life ever again, unless you really hate seeing that extra outer layer on your salads. In that case, peel away!
5. They have a milder taste compared to common varieties.
One of the best reasons for growing burpless cucumbers is their unique flavor.
Because they have smaller amounts of cucurbitacin (the chemical compound that makes them bitter), burpless cucumbers tend to have a sweeter and milder taste compared to most varieties. This makes them perfect for fresh salads and sandwiches.
Make sure to remove the stem end of the cucumber before cooking or eating, though. While the fruit itself is bitter-free, other parts of the plant may have more cucurbitacin content, brought about by different growing conditions in the garden.
If you can, stick to a regular watering schedule. Drought and stress can cause burpless cucumbers to have higher amounts of cucurbitacin than normal, and this can, in turn, affect their flavor.
6. They are not suitable for pickling.
Not all cucumber varieties may be pickled.
Sadly, burpless cucumbers fall into this category. Unlike pickling cucumbers, burpless varieties lose their crisp during fermentation. This is because of an enzyme that causes the cukes to go soft while they’re inside the pickle jar.
But don’t fret; there are many ways to use burpless cucumbers in your favorite dishes. Here are a few examples:
- slice fresh cucumbers for healthy salads
- cut and blend thoroughly for hot or cold soups
- mix with spices for making relishes
- layer on sandwiches for a sweet, refreshing flavor
Still, if you really want to pickle burpless cucumbers, you can make a fresh batch of pickles from young cukes. This would be great if you’re looking for a quick snack to eat after a few hours of gardening out in the yard.
7. They are seedless.
Fewer seeds = more sweet, delicious cucumber flesh!
In addition to being thin-skinned and bitter-free, burpless varieties have fewer and barely noticeable seeds. This is because, unlike American slicing cucumbers, they don’t have to be pollinated at all in order to bear fruit.
You see, burpless cucumbers are labeled as parthenocarpic, which means that even if the seeds turn ripe, they won’t germinate because the seeds are infertile.
Without pollination, the fruits will produce tiny seeds that are not suitable for growing, which can be both good news and bad news for gardeners. While they readily produce lots of fruits even without any help, you might be disappointed to realize that you’ll have to buy a brand new seed packet next season.
BURPLESS CUCUMBER VARIETIES
Are you willing to try your hand at growing burpless cucumber varieties?
Save your time searching for product catalogs, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few burpless varieties to help you get started.
1. Garden Sweet Burpless
The Garden Sweet variety is a sweet, burpless, slicing cucumber. The plant spreads 3-4 feet wide and takes 55 days to mature before the cukes are ready to be harvested from the plant. It bears green fruits around 10-12 inches long.
2. Burpless Beauty
The Burpless Beauty variety stays crisp for a longer period of time than other varieties. The plant spreads 3-4 feet wide and takes 60 days to mature before the 8-inch deep green cucumbers can be harvested.
3. Sweet Success
The Sweet Success variety tastes sweeter than any other burpless English cucumber. The plant spreads 4-5 feet and takes 58 days to mature. It yields 12-inch fruits and is resistant to cucumber viruses.
4. Summer Dance
The Summer Dance variety is a sweet, Japanese burpless variety that spreads 3-4 feet wide. The plants take 55 days to mature before yielding 9-inch dark green fruits. It can tolerate heat stress and is highly resistant to powdery mildew.
5. Burpless Tasty Green
The Burpless Tasty Green variety is a sweet, Japanese variety that takes 55-63 days to mature. The plants spread 1-2 feet wide and may be planted in containers. It produces crunchy, juicy cukes around 10-12 inches long.
The Muncher variety is a vigorous plant that grows 1-2 feet wide – perfect for container gardening. It takes 59-65 days for the plants to mature before they yield smooth, medium green cukes around 9 inches long.
7. Burpless Bush No. 26
The Burpless #26 variety is a mild-flavored, burpless cucumber that takes 55-63 days to mature before they are ready to be harvested. The plants grow 1-2 feet wide and bear thin-skinned, seedless fruits around 8 inches long.
Whatever makes certain cucumbers “burpless” still remains to be seen.
On the bright side, it’s good to know that there are varieties out there for those who suffer from excessive burping after eating cucumbers. Plus, it’s a new opportunity for gardeners to try a different type of cucumber in their backyards.
Just like any other crop, burpless cucumbers have their own set of pros and cons.
They are very productive and disease-resistant plants bearing delicious, thin-skinned cucumbers that are easy on the stomach and require less effort to prepare.
While they don’t require pollination to produce fruit, they’ll probably take over your garden unless grown vertically. They may taste great in salads but you can’t preserve them as pickles. Lastly, they contain fewer seeds that don’t germinate even if they mature.
For better or worse, growing something new can be a valuable experience.