Tough Cucumber Skin – What Makes Cucumber Skins Tough

Sun Shining On Cucumber Plant
(Image credit: SomeSense)

Cucumbers are fairly easy to grow and depending upon the variety, a staple in salads or a must-have for pickling. The types of cucumbers found in the grocery store have thin palatable skins, but sometimes those grown in the garden have cucumber skin that is tough.

What makes cucumber skins tough? A tough cucumber skin is most likely the result of the variety of cucumber being grown. Of course, if the cucumber skin is too hard, it can always be peeled; but if you would rather grow fruit without a tough cucumber peel, keep reading.

What Makes Cucumber Skins Tough?

Cucumbers grown for eating fresh from the garden are of two kinds. There are cukes suited for growing in the greenhouse and those that are more suitable for growing outdoors. Cucumbers that are meant to be grown outside are called ‘ridge cucumbers.’

Ridge cucumbers tolerate cooler temperatures and are often spiny or bumpy, hence they have a tough cucumber skin. If you dislike that tough cucumber peel, then try growing greenhouse varieties. These are the types of cucumber found at the grocers and have a thin, smooth skin.

Another Reason for Tough Cucumber Skin

If you have cucumber skin that is tough, yet another reason may be that the fruit has been left on the vine too long. Cucumbers that are left to grow larger will have tougher skin. Just because the cucumber skin is too hard doesn’t mean the fruit is lacking in any way, however. If the cucumber skin is too hard for you, simply peel and enjoy the delicious fruit inside.

The exception to this is pickling cucumbers. If they are left to grow large, they become increasingly bitter, not to mention their unpleasantly tough cucumber peel. In the case of pickling cucumbers, bigger isn’t better!

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.