Storing sliced cucumbers in water is a common practice for keeping cucumber slices fresh and crisp for longer. The cucumber is a water-rich vegetable, so submerging the slices in water helps maintain their moisture content and texture. There are some pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to store cut cucumbers in water.
Here are quick answers to common questions about storing sliced cucumbers in water:
Does storing cucumbers in water really work?
Yes, storing sliced cucumbers in water can effectively keep them crisper and fresher for 1-2 days longer than leaving them dry in the refrigerator.
How long do cucumbers last in water?
Properly stored, sliced cucumbers can last around 3-5 days in water in the refrigerator.
Is it necessary to store cucumbers in water?
No, it’s not absolutely necessary. They can still last 2-3 days in the fridge without water. But the water helps maximize freshness.
Does the temperature of the water matter?
Yes. Cold water between 35-40°F is best. Room temperature water will not keep cucumbers as fresh.
Should anything be added to the water?
A little bit of vinegar or lemon juice can help prevent bacteria and mold growth, prolonging freshness. But plain water works too.
Pros of Storing Cucumbers in Water
There are a few advantages to submerging sliced cucumbers in water:
Preserves Moisture and Crispness
The main benefit of storing cukes in water is it helps them retain their moisture, keeping the texture nice and crisp. Cucumbers are about 96% water. Once sliced, they start losing moisture to the air through evaporation. Putting them in water minimizes water loss and preserves that just-cut crunchiness.
By maintaining moisture content, the water prolongs the freshness of the cucumber slices. Properly stored in cold water in the refrigerator, sliced cucumbers can stay fresh and crunchy for 3-5 days. Without water, they may only last 2-3 days before getting limp and mushy.
Prevents Drying Out
Water prevents the exposed surfaces of the cucumber slices from drying out in the fridge air. Keeping them moist helps them avoid getting dried out and shriveled over time.
Submerging the cucumbers may also slow oxidation, which degrades nutrients and leads to faster decay. The water forms a protective barrier against oxygen in the air attacking the sliced vegetable surfaces exposed by cutting.
Cons of Storing Cucumbers in Water
Storing sliced cucumbers in water also has some potential downsides:
Risk of Contamination
Water can potentially harbor and spread contaminants to the cucumbers, like bacteria, mold and yeast. This introduces a food safety risk if the water is not replaced frequently.
Dilution of Flavors
Some water-soluble aromatic compounds may leach out of the cucumbers into the surrounding water over time. This can gradually result in a minor dilution of flavors.
Too much water exposure could lead to an over-hydrated texture. The cucumber slices may become waterlogged and mushy if left submerged for too long.
Needing to keep the water fresh requires more effort than just storing the cukes dry. The water needs changing every 8-12 hours to prevent microbial growth.
Does Water Temperature Matter?
Yes, water temperature makes a significant difference for proper cucumber storage. The water should be cold, but not too cold:
35-40°F is Ideal
The ideal water temperature range is 35-40°F (1.7-4.4°C). This cold refrigerator temperature helps slow cucumber deterioration and bacterial growth.
Avoid Room Temperature
Room temperature water between 68-77°F (20-25°C) will not effectively preserve cucumbers. The warm temperature causes faster moisture loss and microbial growth.
Don’t Use Ice Water
Avoid using ice water. Cucumber texture can be negatively affected by very cold water below 35°F (1.7°C), turning soft or mushy.
Should You Add Anything to the Water?
Plain water works fine for storing cucumbers. But some minor additions can enhance preservation:
A bit of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in the water can help inhibit microbial growth. About 2 tablespoons vinegar per cup of water is sufficient.
Some lemon juice provides similar antimicrobial action to vinegar. Use around 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed juice per cup of water.
A small amount of salt can draw moisture out of bacteria cells, slowing growth. About 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup of water is all that’s needed.
A capful of hydrogen peroxide solution (3% strength) per cup of water can help kill microbes. Be aware it may cause slight bubbling.
Spraying sliced cucumbers with produce wash before refrigerating in water can reduce microbes. Look for washes containing peroxyacetic acid.
Additions aren’t strictly necessary. Plain tap water also works. Just change it out at least every 8-12 hours.
Follow these simple steps for properly storing sliced cucumbers in water:
1. Wash Cucumbers
Thoroughly wash cucumbers under running water before slicing. Gently scrub skin with fingers or soft brush to remove debris and bacteria.
2. Slice Cucumbers
Trim ends. Cut cucumbers into desired shape and thickness. Uniformly thin slices around 1/8-1/4 inch work best.
3. Treat Slices
Optional: Spray or soak slices with small amount of vinegar, lemon juice or produce wash to reduce microbes.
4. Fill Container
Place cucumber slices in airtight plastic or glass storage container. Add enough cold water at 35-40°F to completely cover slices.
Seal container and refrigerate. Store in coldest part of fridge, such as bottom shelf or crisper drawer.
6. Change Water
Dump out old water and refresh with cold clean water every 8-12 hours.
7. Use Promptly
Use cucumbers within 3-5 days for best quality. Discard slices if they become slimy or foul smelling.
Does Cucumber Type Matter?
All common varieties of cucumbers can be stored in water. But some hold up better than others:
English (seedless) cucumbers tend to stay crisper in water, thanks to their thinner skins and higher water content.
Small, delicate Persian cucumbers also have very crisp texture and minimal seeds suited for water storage.
Pickling cucumbers are bred to stay firmer over time during brining. They maintain good crunch stored in water.
Classic slicer cucumbers hold up reasonably well in water. Opt for fresher, firmer ones.
Old, larger cucumbers that have become seedy tend to get soft and mushy more quickly in water storage.
Cucumber Water vs. Plain Water
What about using cucumber-infused water? Here’s how it compares:
Water that has been infused with cucumber flavor, such as in a fruit-infused pitcher. Gives added subtle taste.
Regular tap or filtered water, without added cucumber flavor. Works just as well for storage.
Both are equally effective at keeping cucumbers hydrated and crisp.
Plain water must be changed more often. The acids in flavored water have mild antimicrobial effects.
Natural compounds may leach into plain water over time, losing flavor. But cucumber water compensates.
Cucumber water contains antioxidants that may slightly slow oxidation compared to plain water.
Cucumber water saves the step of manually adding flavorings. But plain water avoids having to prep flavored water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should cut cucumbers be sealed in an airtight container?
No, do not seal them airtight. Allowing some air exchange helps prevent anaerobic bacteria growth. Use a loosely lidded container.
How often should the water be changed?
Change the water every 8-12 hours for best results. More frequent water replacement is needed in warmer temperatures.
Can you use salty water?
Avoid using very salty water, as it will draw moisture out of the cucumbers. A pinch of salt is okay, but too much can make them soft.
Will cucumbers last longer whole or sliced?
Whole cucumbers keep longer, around 1 week stored properly. Once sliced, aim to use cucumbers within 3-5 days.
Can cucumbers be stored in water after being refrigerated?
Yes, you can still soak refrigerated cucumbers in water to revitalize them. But fresher ones stored immediately in water will have better results.
Storing Cucumber Slices Without Water
While water storage is best, you can also store cucumbers without submerging them:
Wrapped in Paper Towel
Wrapping slices individually in paper towels absorbs excess moisture and keeps them drier for crisper texture.
Stored in Humid Crisper
A high-humidity refrigerator drawer helps compensate for lack of water by limiting moisture loss.
Placed on Paper Towel
Layering slices between sheets of paper towel in a container pulls moisture away while still hydrating.
Misted with Water
Misting cucumber slices with water periodically mimics the effect of water storage without full submersion.
Storing sliced cucumbers in water is generally recommended to maximize their freshness and crisp texture in the refrigerator. The water creates a moist environment that preserves moisture content, prevents drying out, slows oxidation and prolongs crispness for 3-5 days. Use cold water changed every 8-12 hours for best quality. While some prefer plain water, additions like vinegar, lemon and salt can help reduce microbial growth. All types of cucumbers store well in water, but English and Persian varieties hold up best. With proper refrigerated water storage, sliced cucumbers can maintain pleasant, crunchy texture significantly longer.