Why are my cucumbers orange? They’re turning yellow-orange, to be precise…
This summer we￼ have enjoyed more productive cucumber plants than ever before, but recently the enormous fruit are discoloring from green to yellow to orange before we can eat them. Here’s the reason why.
Cucumbers turn orange when they grow excessively ripe before harvesting, explains Veggie Gardener. The cucumbers first turn yellow, and if left on the vine, they quickly develop a vibrant orange hue. This happens because chlorophyll levels decrease past the point of peak ripeness… [They become] very bitter and unsuitable for human consumption. (Source: Ask.com)
Bitter. It’s true. I taste tested just to make sure they were no longer suitable for human consumption. They aren’t, though our caretaker assured us that his wife can still turn them into pickles. I encouraged him to take all he could haul!
Our yellow and/or orange cucumbers are an unfortunate result of the extended heat wave and drought we’ve been enduring. It’s true we may have overplanted. But our beautiful cukes growing, greening, and spoiling before our eyes is heartbreaking. What to do?
The only way to prevent cucumbers from turning yellow and orange is to harvest them at the proper time. Ripe cucumbers have firm flesh with a medium-green rind and feel heavy for their size. Most varieties ripen between 50 and 70 days after planting. Size is also an important indicator of ripeness. Each cucumber variety has a different optimal size and quickly develops a bitter flavor if allowed to grow larger. Some cucumbers, such as those used for pickling, are naturally smaller than other varieties. Consequently, gardeners must know what type of cucumber they have planted and the target size for ripe specimens in that category. The most common cause of orange and yellow cucumbers is over-ripening, but the discoloration is sometimes a symptom of the Cucumber Mosaic Virus. According to Gardening Know How, the Mosaic Virus produces soft, mushy cucumbers with mottled patches and curled, withered leaves. This incurable virus also affects peppers. When a cucumber displays symptoms of the Mosaic Virus, the best course of action is to remove it from the garden. (Source: Ask.com)
The good news is that we don’t have Cucumber Mosaic Virus. But the bad news is that our compost is becoming overwhelmed with yellow and orange cucumbers. Perhaps we should redistribute these technicolor cukes to our wild neighbors for their enjoyment? (See Woodchucks & Cucumbers!)
And if wild omnivores turn up their snouts at the curiously colored cukes, they’re not bad inspiration for a freewheeling riff…
The oranging skin
is a warning:
untasty, even bitter,
and I’m 100% unfit
for human consumption
(Source: “Orange Cucumbers”, Rosslyn Redux)