I got this from the Augusta Chronicle
:http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/071108/gar_465197.shtmlSome of the cucumbers from my garden are so bitter tasting that I have to throw them away. What causes this, and can I do anything about it?
A: The compounds that cause bitterness in cucumbers are cucurbitacin B and cucurbitacin C. Wild cucumbers, most of which are extremely bitter, may also contain a number of related compounds.
The curcurbitacins occur in all parts of a plant. The leaves, stems and roots of most cultivated varieties contain varying amounts.
Only occasionally do the bitter compounds spread into the cucumber. And when they does, the bitterness isn't uniform. It will vary from fruit to fruit.
Two important points: One, the compounds are likely to be more concentrated at the stem end than the blossom end of the fruit. Two, the bitterness, if it's there, is always in and just under the skin. It's not deep into the fleshy portion or in the seed cavity.
When using cucumbers for salad, always taste a small portion from the stem end of each cucumber before slicing the rest. If it is bitter, you can usually eliminate the bitterness by peeling. Peel even more deeply at the stem end, since this is where bitter compounds penetrate most deeply.
I generally hear more complaints of bitter cucumbers early in the growing season and during a cooler summer. Research has shown that fertilization practices, plant spacing and irrigation frequency have little effect on the number of bitter cucumbers produced.
Different cucumber cultivars vary widely in their tendency to be bitter. In tests in several Western states, Improved Long Green, Eversweet, Ashley, Lemon and Saticoy Hybrid had the least bitterness. Even though irrigation practices haven't proved to greatly affect the bitterness of cucumbers, the misshapen fruit associated with poor irrigation is more likely to be bitter than well-shaped fruit. So provide the plants with ample and uniform moisture and adequate nutrients. These practices result in rapid, uniform growth of the fruit.
Leaving cucumbers on the vine too long can also lead to a bitter taste. Cucumbers grow fast once they start producing, so be sure to plant only as much as you can keep up with, keeping the harvest young. Sid Mullis, the director of the University of Georgia Extension Service Office in Richmond County