Why Are These Cucumbers Always Wrapped in Plastic?


You’ve seen them, those cucumbers in the grocery store that are protected with clear plastic wrap—why are they wrapped and regular cucumbers aren’t?

The long skinny cucumbers with clear plastic wrapping are English cucumbers. “English” cucumbers, must be a royal thing, after all, regular American cucumbers aren’t covered in plastic.

Seriously, do English cucumbers have some sort of Mariah Carey, Kim Kardashian diva-type situation going on? Why the special treatment?

What’s the Difference Between American and English Cucumbers?

First, English cucumbers are thin, straight and long. They do have seeds but you hardly notice the seeds when eating them. The thin skin has ridges and is somewhat rough.

English cucumbers

Staff Photo

American cucumbers are much shorter, darker green and have much thicker skin. The seeds of American cucumbers are prominent and can taste bitter.

American Cucumbers

Staff Photo

 Why Are English Cucumbers Covered in Clear Plastic?

The reason English cucumbers are blanketed in clear plastic is because of their skin. The skin of an English cucumber is ultra-thin. The skin acts as a barrier from cold and dehydration. The thicker the skin, the longer the cucumber will last. A thick-skinned cucumber will also be better protected from processing and shipping. Since the skin of English cucumbers is thin, the wrapping helps them last about 10 days They wouldn’t last nearly as long without the plastic wrapping. Also, the plastic protectant keeps them from dehydration and damage from shipping and handling.

American cucumbers have built-in protection from cold, dehydration and injury due to their thick skin. However, one thing American cucumbers lack (because of not having plastic wrapping) is protection from germs. Many shoppers will handle a cucumber before you take it home. English cucumbers are not germ-free but are much better protected from germs than unprotected American cucumbers.

Always wash fruits and vegetables before consuming.

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