Why are some of my cucumbers bitter?

Question: 

Why are some of my cucumbers bitter?

Answer: 

The bitterness in cucumbers is produced by the compound cucurbitacin.  Cucurbitacins are normally found in the leaves, stems, and roots of cucumber plants.  The cucurbitacins spread from the vegetative parts of the plant into the cucumber fruit when plants are under stress.  Hot, dry weather is usually responsible for bitterness in cucumbers in Iowa.  

Cucurbitacins tend to be concentrated in the stem end of the cucumber and just under the skin.  To eliminate most of the bitterness, cut off the stem end of the fruit and peel the remaining portion of the cucumber.  To avoid the problem, plant bitter-free cucumber cultivars, such ‘Sweet Slice’ and ‘Sweet Success.’  Watering cucumber plants once a week during hot, dry weather may also be helpful.  
 

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