When To Pick Pickling Cucumbers: The Ultimate Guide!

Today, we dig into the delicate art of when to pick pickling cucumbers. As stewards of our land and guardians of quality produce, it is paramount that we grasp the essence of timing when it comes to plucking these green gems from their humble vines.

Come along with me as we set out on a quest for the ultimate pickling excellence.

Harvesting Pickling Cucumbers: A Prudent Pursuit for the Discerning Farmer.


1. The Importance of Timing:

The timing of harvesting pickling cucumbers is a delicate balance and plays a pivotal role in determining the quality of your pickles. These cucumbers have a narrow span of time when they reach their peak maturity for pickling.

Picking them too soon can result in a cucumber that lacks the characteristic crunch and robust flavor that is desired in a pickle. Moreover, the underdeveloped seeds within may not provide the full, rich flavor that is associated with well-pickled cucumbers.

Conversely, allowing the cucumbers to overstay on the plant can result in overly large specimens with a bitter taste and tough skin, making them unfit for pickling. Such cucumbers develop mature seeds that can add an undesirable texture to your pickles.

To ensure the best balance of taste, texture, and size, follow these specific recommendations:

  • Monitor the size: Most pickling cucumber varieties are best picked when they are about 2 inches in length for gherkins and 4 to 6 inches for full-sized pickles.
  • Frequent harvesting: Check your cucumber plants every one to two days as cucumbers can grow from an ideal size to ‘too large’ in a matter of days.

By understanding and applying these guidelines, you can ensure that your pickling cucumbers are harvested at the perfect time for optimal pickling success.

What Month Do You Harvest Cucumbers

Determining the right time to harvest cucumbers depends largely on the climate and growing conditions of your area.

In general, cucumbers grown for pickling purposes are usually ready for harvest 50 to 55 days from planting. This often falls in the mid to late summer months.

In most temperate regions, cucumbers are typically planted in late spring, which means the harvesting period usually starts in July and can extend through September.

However, in warmer climates, cucumbers can be harvested as early as June.

Remember, the key to successful cucumber harvesting is frequent checking and picking. This ensures you’re getting the cucumbers at their peak and prevents them from becoming too large and bitter.

Always refer to the guidelines on your specific seed packet for the most accurate harvesting timeline for your pickling cucumber variety.

Tip: The best time to pick cucumbers for pickling is during the mid-summer months when the cucumbers are at their peak flavor and crunchiness. It is important to select cucumbers that have not softened too much in order to maintain the crispness desired for pickling. The ideal size of cucumbers should be between two and five inches long, as they contain more sugar than longer ones.

What Are Pickling Cucumbers

2. Nurturing Maturation:

As diligent farmers, monitoring your pickling cucumber plants closely during their growth stages is crucial.

Keep an eye out for signs indicating maturation, such as color changes and size development.

Mature fruits typically display a consistent shade of vibrant green without any traces of yellowing or blemishes.

3. Checking Size Specifications:

Another vital factor to consider is size uniformity among pickling cucumbers—an attribute that distinguishes them from other cucumber varieties destined for different culinary purposes.

Ideally, select cucumbers measuring around 4-6 inches in length with a diameter no larger than 1 inch at their widest point.

4. Conducting Regular Inspections:

Frequent inspections are indispensable during this critical phase of cultivation excellence.

Nourish your relationship with your crop by conducting daily check-ups on each vine or row—observing individual cucumbers’ progress meticulously becomes second nature over time.

5. Engaging Your Senses:

Masterfully identifying the perfect time to harvest pickling cucumbers requires the conscious engagement of your senses.

Touch: As you gently run your fingers over the cucumber’s skin, you should feel a slight roughness, a characteristic feature of cucumbers ready for pickling. The firmness indicative of maturity is unmistakable – neither too brittle nor too soft to the squeeze. It should resist your pressure slightly, conveying robustness without any squishy or pithy areas.

Smell: Bring the cucumber closer and take a moment to appreciate its scent. A ripe pickling cucumber typically emits a fresh, clean smell, reminiscent of a dew-kissed garden in the early morning. There should be no overpowering or off-putting odors – the scent of a ready-to-pick cucumber is subtly earthy and invigorating.

Taste: If you’re still uncertain, you can take a small bite. A mature pickling cucumber should taste crisp and mildly sweet, with a slightly tangy aftertaste. The flesh should be juicy and refreshing, while the skin provides a pleasant crunch. The absence of bitterness is a sure sign that your pickling cucumber has reached its prime harvesting time.

By engaging your senses in this way, you not only deepen your connection with your crop but also increase your chances of harvesting pickling cucumbers at their absolute peak.

6. Timing Harvest for Optimum Flavor:

Once the majority of your pickling cucumbers reach the 4-6 inch length range, it is time to initiate harvest.

However, pay special attention to a critical detail—the first appearance of female flowers on your cucumber plants!

These are the tiny fruits attached at the base of each female flower, and their appearance signals the optimal picking time for pickling cucumbers.

How Big Do Pickling Cucumbers Get

As we mentioned above, the ideal size for pickling cucumbers is between 4-6 inches in length.

However, different varieties of pickling cucumbers may reach varying sizes, so it’s essential to refer to your specific seed packet for accurate sizing information.

7. First Female Flowers:

The first female flowers that appear on a cucumber plant are crucial indicators of the beginning of the picking season. They are small, bright yellow flowers that develop at the base of a cucumber plant’s stem.

Once these flowers appear, it is time to start picking your pickling cucumbers regularly and frequently.

The exact timing of the first female flowers’ appearance varies, depending on location and growing conditions, but generally occurs around 40-45 days into the growing season.

These delicate flowers grace your cucumber plants with their presence in clusters of two or three and are identifiable by their miniature cucumbers at the base.

8. Pickling Varieties:

When selecting pickling varieties for your garden, consider the following traits as guidelines:

  • Mild flavor: Pickling cucumbers should have a mild, neutral taste to complement pickling spices and brines.
  • Sweet pickles: Some varieties are bred specifically for their sweetness, resulting in deliciously unique sweet pickles.
  • Green skin: Opt for cucumbers with vibrant green skins—avoid yellowing or dull-colored varieties.
  • Dill pickles: For traditional dill pickles, choose cucumbers with a larger diameter and bumpy texture to hold up well in the brine.
  • Burpless cucumbers: If you prefer smoother pickling cucumbers without bumps, opt for burpless varieties that are equally suitable for pickling.

Can You Eat Pickling Cucumbers?

Yes, pickling cucumbers are still edible even if they have mature seeds.

However, they may not be the best choice for pickling as these seeds can add a slightly bitter taste and affect the texture of your pickles.

Therefore, it is essential to monitor the size and timing of your pickling cucumber harvest to ensure optimal flavor and quality for your pickling endeavors.

There’s a popular anecdote about President Andrew Jackson. It goes that he had an insatiable appetite for pickles and was known to eat them at every meal. While not specific to pickling cucumbers, it’s a fun reminder of how pickles have long been a staple in American cuisine.

9. Slicing Cucumbers:

If you plan on using some of your pickling cucumbers as fresh produce for salads or sandwiches, consider growing some slicing varieties.

These cucumbers are typically longer and have a thinner skin, making them more suitable for raw consumption.

10. Different Times, Same Plant:

It’s worth noting that pickling and slicing cucumber plants are the same species—Cucumis sativus—but bred for different purposes.

Therefore, you can grow both types in your garden, but be mindful of the different harvesting times.

Chef Thomas Keller once said, “A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” This holds particularly true for pickling cucumbers. The process requires patience, observation, and a lot of personal touch, much like any recipe.

11. Additional Tips and Common Mistakes:

While picking pickling cucumbers seems straightforward, there are some common mistakes that gardeners often make, which can detrimentally affect the quality of your cucumbers and subsequently, your pickles. Let’s outline these common pitfalls and tips to avoid them:

  • Avoid Underwatering or Overwatering: Cucumber plants thrive in consistently moist soil. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can result in bitter cucumbers. Use a soil moisture meter to ensure optimal watering.
  • Don’t Neglect Spacing: Cucumbers need adequate space to grow. Overcrowding can lead to poor air circulation and increased susceptibility to diseases.
  • Ensure Balanced Nutrition: Cucumbers are heavy feeders and require a well-balanced fertilizer. Over-fertilizing, especially with nitrogen-rich fertilizer, can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of fruit setting.
  • Beware of Pests and Diseases: Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of infestations or disease. Common cucumber pests include aphids, spider mites, and cucumber beetles.
  • Harvest Regularly: Neglecting regular harvest can lead to overripe or yellow cucumbers that are not ideal for pickling, as their thicker skin and mature seeds can yield less-than-ideal pickles.
  • Avoid Rough Handling: Cucumbers are delicate and can bruise easily. Handle them gently when harvesting and storing.

With attention to these common issues, you can help ensure a bountiful and successful harvest of your pickling cucumbers.

Pickling cucumbers

Help On How To Harvest Cucumbers

Knowing how to harvest pickling cucumbers is crucial for achieving the perfect batch of pickles. We already covered when to harvest and what to look for. Let’s now talk a little about how you are supposed to harvest these cucumbers.

When picking pickling cucumbers, follow these steps:

  1. Gently twist the cucumber off the vine to avoid damaging the plant or other cucumbers.
  2. Avoid using clippers or knives, as they can also damage the plant and leave open wounds vulnerable to pests and diseases.
  3. Leave a little bit of stem attached to the cucumber for optimal freshness and preservation.
  4. Harvest frequently to avoid overripe cucumbers that can affect the overall taste and texture of your pickles.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure a successful harvest of pickling cucumbers every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are pickling cucumbers supposed to be prickly?

Yes, pickling cucumbers often have small prickly spikes on their skin. This is entirely normal and should not deter you from picking or consuming them. The prickly spikes can easily be removed by gently washing or rubbing the cucumber before pickling or eating.

Can you pick cucumbers too soon?

Yes, it is possible to harvest cucumbers too soon. Picking cucumbers when they are too small can result in less flavor and a different texture.

However, it’s important to monitor your cucumbers closely, as leaving them on the vine too long can result in overripe or yellowed cucumbers.

When are Boston pickling cucumbers ready to pick?

Boston pickling cucumbers are typically ready to pick when they reach about 3 to 6 inches in length. This usually occurs about 55 to 60 days after planting.

Timing may vary depending on local growing conditions, but generally, once the cucumber is firm, vibrant green, and the correct size, it’s ready to be harvested. It’s best to check your seed packet for specific timing and size guidelines.

Further Reading and References

For those who are interested in delving deeper into the world of pickling cucumbers, here are some excellent resources to explore:

Please note that some of the links included in the ‘Further Reading and References’ section are Amazon Affiliate links. This means that we may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you decide to purchase through these links. This helps us to continue providing valuable, free content. Thank you for your support!

  1. “The Joy of Pickling” by Linda Ziedrich: This comprehensive guide provides an array of recipes, techniques, and tips for pickling not only cucumbers but also a range of other vegetables and fruits. Find it on Amazon.( Affiliate Link)
  2. “Growing Cucumbers”: An informative article by The Old Farmer’s Almanac that provides tips on growing and harvesting cucumbers. Read more here.
  3. “How To Make Dill Pickles”: A helpful guide from Simply Recipes that takes you step-by-step through the process of making your own dill pickles at home. Check it out here.
  4. “Cucumber Growing Guide”: An in-depth guide by Gardener’s Supply Company that explores multiple aspects of growing cucumbers, including common pests, diseases, and solutions. Find it here.

By exploring these resources, you can expand your knowledge about pickling cucumbers and enhance your gardening and pickling skills.

What Are Pickling Cucumbers?

Pickling cucumbers are cucumbers that are specifically grown to be used for pickling. They are typically shorter and stubbier than traditional cucumbers, with thinner skin that is easier to penetrate.

Pickling cucumbers are also generally picked when they are still relatively immature, as this helps to preserve their crunchiness. 

When pickling cucumbers are properly prepared, they can be an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. In addition to being a good source of vitamin C, pickling cucumbers also contain potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Furthermore, the fermentation process that people use to create pickles can actually increase the bioavailability of these nutrients. As a result, pickled cucumbers can be a healthy and delicious addition to any diet.

Another interesting read: How To Start An Indoor Garden.

Tip: Proper harvesting is also important when it comes to preparing cucumbers for pickling. They should always be washed with clean water prior to cutting off the stem end

Read interesting facts about How Compost Bins Work.

Are All Cucumbers Suitable For Pickling?

Now when you know when to pick pickling cucumbers, you must be thinking of another question. Are all cucumbers suitable for pickling?

There is no simple answer to this question, as the suitability of cucumbers for pickling depends on several different factors. First, you need to consider the taste and texture of the cucumber.

Not all varieties of cucumber are ideal for pickling, either because they have a strong flavor or because they are overly seedy or dull in texture

While some varieties may perfectly suit crunchy refrigerator pickles, others may work better with quick and easy refrigerator dill pickles. It doesn’t require any fermentation.

Additionally, it is important to consider whether the cucumber you are using has been treated with wax or not. Some commercial farmers use wax in order to protect their products from moisture damage during transport. So if you want your pickles to stay crisp and flavorful for a long time, you’ll need to use untreated cucumbers that don’t treat with wax.

In short, whether all cucumbers are suitable for pickling depends largely on personal taste and preference, as well as the specific variety that you choose. However, with a little research and experimentation, it is definitely possible to create tasty pickles from any variety of cucumbers.

You can also check out the How Do You Know When Carrots Are Ready To Harvest? to learn more about them.

How to Use Pickling Cucumbers? 

How use pickling cucumbers

Cucumbers are a great ingredient to use when pickling. Before you start preparing your pickles, it’s important to choose the right kind of cucumber. For optimal taste and texture, you’ll want to opt for small or medium-sized varieties like English or Kirby cucumbers. You can then follow these simple steps to begin:

1. Wash and dry your cucumbers thoroughly before slicing them into uniform pieces. Be sure not to cut the veggies too thickly, as they should be able to easily absorb the pickling brine.

2. Next, place your sliced cucumbers into a clean jar or another container that you sterilize with boiling water. If possible, let the veggies sit in this container overnight. So that they will infuse with the flavor of the pickling mixture.

3. Now it’s time to mix up the brine. Simply combine equal parts vinegar (such as white vinegar or apple cider vinegar), filtered water, sea salt (or kosher salt), and sugar in a pot over medium heat. Stir until all ingredients have dissolved completely. Then allow the liquid to cool briefly before pouring it over your sliced cucumber pieces in their container. You may need to gently mash down on the cucumbers to fit them all in. Make sure they’re fully submerged.

4. Finally, seal your container tightly. Now store it in the fridge for at least 24 hours before enjoying your homemade pickles. For the best results, wait a week or two before diving in. The longer they sit, the more flavorful they’ll become.

Tip: After picking your cucumbers, store them in an airtight container within two days of harvesting in order to maintain maximum freshness and flavor when ready for pickling later on. Before using them for pickles, prepare them by soaking them overnight in a light brine solution (1/4 cup salt per quart of cold liquid) which will help remove any last traces of dirt or bacteria that may still remain on the surface of the cucumber skin even after washing it earlier on.

And that’s all there is to it. Just remember to enjoy your pickles in moderation, as they are high in sodium and calories. With these simple steps, you can enjoy the delicious taste of pickled cucumbers in no time.

You can also check out the 5 tips to start composting at home.

Why Do You Need to Grow Pickling Cucumber Plants?

What is needed for pickling cucumbers

Pickling cucumbers are a type of cucumber that specifically grows to use for pickling. While you can pickle any type of cucumber, pickling cucumbers are generally smaller and have thinner skin. That makes them ideal for pickling. 

In addition, pickling cucumbers typically have a higher level of acidity than other cucumbers, which helps to preserve the pickles. While you can purchase pickling cucumbers at the store, growing your own pickling cucumbers can be extremely rewarding. 

Not only will you have complete control over the quality of the cucumbers. But you’ll also be able to choose from a wide variety of heirloom varieties. For growing pickling cucumber you can check out the beginner’s guide for growing indoor vegetables. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, growing pickling cucumbers is a great way to add some flavor to your home-grown crops.


In summary, picking pickling cucumbers at the right time is crucial for achieving optimum flavor and quality. Remember to keep an eye out for signs of maturity, check size specifications, conduct regular inspections, engage your senses, and most importantly—keep an eye on those first female flowers! With this knowledge in hand, you are well-equipped to embark on a successful pickle-making journey.

J.S. Diyhouseskills

I’m J.S., I created and am the content manager at DIYHouseSkills.com. I do the research and write the articles that appear on this website. I’ve learned many household skills during my life and think it’s important to at least know the basics so that you can save yourself time and money… READ FULL BIO >