What happens if you eat a bad cucumber?
In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “What happens if you eat a bad cucumber?”. We will also talk about what causes cucumbers to go bad, how to tell if cucumbers have gone bad, what should you do If you’ve consumed a bad cucumber and how to safely store cucumbers.
What happens if you eat bad cucumbers?
Eating bad cucumbers is harmful as they may have infectious bacteria that can result in food poisoning such as Salmonella and E.coli. The person may experience fever, vomiting, stomach pain, and bloody diarrhea (1,2).
Though the immune systems of most individuals will work to free their bodies of the pathogenic bacteria with limited or no long-term side effects, it often induces the not-so-pleasant symptoms of foodborne illness (2).
Molds found in spoiled cucumbers, such as Fusarium spp., are also a potential health danger to humans due to their production of mycotoxins. Alternaria tenuis, Alternaria alternata, Botrytis cinerea, Choanephora cucurbitarum, and other molds are known to cause cucumber disease as well (3).
So, make sure to store them properly to avoid accidentally swallowing bad cucumbers.
What is the shelf life of cucumbers?
Typically, cucumbers can last approximately 1 to 2 weeks when refrigerated. While cucumbers that are kept at room temperature can last for 1 to 2 days (4,5)
When it comes to sliced or cut cucumbers, they begin to deteriorate faster. Cut cucumbers should be stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator. They can usually be consumed within 2 to 3 days, but their quality may decline over time (6,7).
What causes cucumbers to go bad?
As we mentioned before, cucumbers are prone to bacterial and fungal development, which can cause spoiling. Cucumbers can be contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, as well as fungi such as molds, if they are not stored properly or have been exposed to filthy conditions (1,3).
Cucumbers have a high water content, and too much moisture might hasten their deterioration. Moisture can encourage the growth of bacteria and mould, resulting in rapid deterioration. Cucumbers must be kept dry and any extra moisture removed before storing (7).
Cucumbers are susceptible to temperature fluctuations. Storing them at room temperature accelerates the ripening process, causing them to grow overripe and go bad faster. Refrigeration slows the degradation process and increases shelf life (6,7).
Cucumbers are also ethylene sensitive, and when exposed to it, they soon overripe and develop off-flavors and textures. Cucumbers should be stored away from ethylene-producing fruits such as bananas, apples, and tomatoes (8).
How to tell if cucumbers have gone bad?
Cucumbers have a brief shelf life and can be hard to identify when they have gone bad. Using your sense of vision, smell, and taste is the best method to know if a cucumber has gone bad.
We have put together a list of 7 common signs that tell you the cucumbers have gone bad.
The slice test can help you determine whether or not cucumber is likely rotten.
To do so, slice the cucumber in half along the length. Fresh cucumbers have firm seeds and clear, liquid flesh. The cucumber will have a squishy consistency and a watery flesh if it has gone bad.
Sniff the cucumber after slicing it in half.
The scent of fresh cucumber is mild and refreshing. If you smell the scent of anything bad, they’ve most certainly already rotted (9).
Examining the skin of a cucumber is one way to know if it has gone bad. If the skin of your cucumber has started to crimp or become mushy, it has likely gone bad (9).
Cucumbers are characterized by a sweet, watery flavor when they are unripe, but as they are ripe, they develop an awful bad flavor or turn bitter (10).
Cucumber molds are small threads and spores that are hard to notice with the naked eye. They can quickly multiply all over the cucumber flesh (3).
Mold signifies that your cucumbers have been bad for a minimum of one day. Therefore, if you see any signs of mold, discard the entire cucumber right away.
Cucumbers with dark brownish or blackish spots can be a sign that they’re going bad. This is where the molds or bacteria have come into contact with the cucumber skin. Hence, it is best to discard your cucumbers if you detect any of these spots (3).
What should you do If you’ve consumed a bad cucumber?
If you have consumed a bad cucumber, monitor your symptoms for signs of foodborne illness such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps (11).
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or rehydration solutions and seek medical attention if symptoms are severe or persistent, especially for high-risk individuals.
Prevention is crucial, so be cautious when selecting cucumbers, properly store them, and avoid consuming cucumbers that appear spoiled or contaminated.
How to safely store cucumbers?
There are appropriate ways to store cucumbers to prevent them from getting spoiled. Follow these recommendations to ensure your cucumber lasts for a long period.
Before storing cucumbers, make sure they are washed. Rub the cucumber vigorously with your hands under running water to remove dirt and surface bacteria. When immersing in water, a clean bowl is preferable over the sink because the drain area frequently accumulates bacteria (12).
Place the cucumbers in a cool, dry spot. Containers with circulated tops can also be used to enhance air circulation and control mold development.
Cucumbers should only be kept out of the fridge for 2 or 3 days (5).
To maintain the moisture of cucumbers and prolong their shelf life, cover them loosely in plastic wrap or a Ziploc bag and store them in the fridge (5).
Store them on the mid shelves, to prevent them from extremes of temperature and moisture.
Cucumbers should be kept in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Avoid the exposure of cucumbers to light and heat sources, if you want your cucumbers to last one week.
Place the cucumber slices in an airtight jar in the fridge. They must last for one day, a minimum.
Sliced cucumber can even be stored in water and kept in the fridge. Cucumber-infused water is a good practice to cleanse the body (6,7).
Remember, do not keep cucumber with apples or tomatoes as they emit ethylene gas which can speed up the ripening process (8).
Keep sliced cucumbers away from whole cucumbers.
Lastly, never forget to check the expiry date on cucumbers before eating or buying them.
In this brief guide, we answered the question, “What happens if you eat a bad cucumber?”. We also talked about what causes cucumbers to go bad, how to tell if cucumbers have gone bad, what should you do If you consumed a bad cucumber and how to safely store cucumbers.
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11. What You Need to Know about Foodborne Illnesses. FDA, 2022.
12. Zander, A., Bunning, M. Guide to Washing Fresh Produce. Colorado State University, 2010.