Are Orange Cucumbers Safe to Eat? The Complete Guide


Are orange cucumbers safe to eat? Some people refer to them as orange, while others call them yellow. And whether orange cucumbers are safe to eat, depends on a few factors to help you discern whether you’ll want to eat them or not. And we’ve outlined those factors for you in our complete guide below.

Cucumbers with one orange cucumber
Cucumbers with one orange cucumber

What Are Cucumbers?

Cucumbers are an oblong, narrow shape, and are green vegetables that grow on a vine. They have green skins, and the inside is a light green color that feels juicy and has seeds. A cucumber tastes slightly sweet and watery.

Although in the kitchen we often refer to cucumbers as vegetables, scientifically speaking cucumbers are classified as fruits because they grow from a flower and have seeds on the inside.

Why Do Cucumbers Turn Yellow or Orange?

There are several possible reasons why cucumbers turn yellow or orange. We’ll go through each of those below in detail.

The WHY behind a cucumber’s color is the most important aspect in determining whether the cucumber is safe to eat.

Most Common Cause of Yellow or Orange Cucumbers

Here are the most common reasons for yellow or orange cucumbers. We’ve listed the verdict under each one to let you know whether the cucumber is safe to eat.

Yellow or Orange Cucumber Variety

The reason for your cucumber being yellow or orange might be because it’s supposed to be. There are yellow cucumber varieties such as Sunsweet, Chinese Yellow, and Lemon cucumber that are bred to grow in these extra fancy colors.

sliced cucumbers
sliced cucumbers

Yellow variety cucumbers will not produce green cucumbers regardless of how well they’re watered and how well they’re cared for.  The fact of the matter is they only produce a yellow orange cucumber.

If you’re not sure whether your cucumber plant variety is supposed to be this color, you’ll want to check the plant tag or seed packet.

If this is the reason for your different colored cucumbers, then they’re safe to eat.

Verdict: Safe to eat

Over Watering

If you’re growing your own cucumbers in your garden, how well they’re watered can affect their color. Too much water can cause a shallow root system and also leads to potential root rot.

For example, if you water using several inches of water, shallow roots will form, which leads to plants that aren’t as strong, have the potential of forming powdery mildew, and can produce discolored cucumbers.

When growing cucumbers, it’s better to use little water but water deeply and less frequently.

If watering is the reason for your orange cucumbers, then they’re safe to eat.

Verdict: Safe to eat

Long green cucumbers
Long green cucumbers

Lack of Pollination

Did you know that a lack of pollination or poor pollination to your cucumber plants can produce strangely colored cucumbers as well as a strangely shaped product?

When growing cucumbers if you notice that the shape of the cucumber doesn’t form perfectly or it become more of a ball shape, this can be attributed the pollination. This factor combined with a lack of pollination of female flowers can also lead to discolored fruit that looks somewhat orange or yellow.

When a lack of pollination is the reason for orange cucumbers, they’re safe to eat.

Verdict: Safe to eat

Overripe Cucumbers

Simply leaving cucumbers on the vine too long can cause over ripening, which results in discoloration as well as a misshapen cucumber.

When cucumbers are overripe, they also tend to have more seeds and tougher seeds inside the fruit, which you’ll notice when it’s cut opened.

Slices of freshly cut cucumber
Slices of freshly cut cucumber

When over ripening is the cause for orange cucumbers, they’re safe to eat, although you might not care too much for the bitter taste and tough seeds.

Verdict: Safe to eat

Nutrient Deficiencies

A soil nutrient deficiency can be a cause for discoloration. When plants lack an adequate balanced fertilizer, they don’t have the nutrients they need to thrive and grow properly.

And orange cucumbers could be the result of nutrient deficiency in soil. To compensate for lousy garden soil, consider crop rotation, creating a compost pile and mixing in some of the organic matter with the soil to compensate for next year.

If soil nutrient deficiencies are the cause for orange cucumbers, they’re safe to eat.

Verdict: Safe to eat

Cucumber Mosaic Virus

Viral diseases, such as cucumber mosaic virus can be a cause for discoloration of cucumbers. It’s one of the worst viruses or diseases that can hit a garden. It doesn’t usually show its ugly head until after about 6 weeks of vigorous growth.

The best way to know if this is what you’re dealing with, the virus causes leaves to wrinkle and curl facing down, and it stunts the growth causing the plants to produce few flowers and fruit.

Cucumber mosaic virus can be spread by common garden pets such as beetles, white flies, and aphids.

If you notice mottled leaves, wilting, or stunted growth, there’s a possibility that your plants have become infected. Don’t eat cucumbers from these plants.

Verdict: Do NOT to eat

Can You Eat Yellow Cucumbers?

The answer to this question is yes and no. And the reason for the perceived discoloration of the fruit is the determining factor for whether they’re safe to eat.

If the cause of the discoloration is because of the variety of cucumber, overwatering, it being on the vine too long and becoming overripe, or nutrient deficiencies, a cucumber would be fine to eat in any of these instances.

If your cucumber plant shows signs of mosaic virus such as wilted leaves or stunted growth, you shouldn’t eat the orange cucumbers. Instead throw them away and don’t risk it.

tower of cucumbers
tower of cucumbers

What Do Orange Cucumbers Taste Like?

Fresh cucumbers are delicious and crisp, just like orange cucumbers that are intended to be orange and are an orange or yellow variety taste very similar to green cucumbers. They’re watery and somewhat sweet in flavor.

On the other hand, orange cucumbers that have been compromised have more of a pungent bitter flavor. Even if they’re safe to eat, you might not care too much for the flavor.

Common Garden Diseases

Garden plants can develop a variety of diseases including viral, fungal, and bacterial.  You can generally tell when plants are affected because their appearance is altered.

Fungal Diseases

Fungal diseases can present themselves in a variety of manners. They generally begin as large or small growth and can be a variety of color, such as yellow spots. 

Bacterial Wilt

Bacterial wilt can compromise plants and overcome them to the extent of making them wilt, thus its name. It can also cause a yellow color to plants as well as the plant’s fruit.

Viral Diseases

Viral diseases such as Cucumber Mosaic Virus can also begin to grow and fester in garden plants. These have the potential of causing yellow skin on vegetables like cucumbers.

It’s a good idea to NOT consume crops that have any of these diseases as they can potentially affect your health and cause serious illness or even death.

cucumbers in bowl
cucumbers in bowl

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions that relate to are orange cucumbers safe to eat. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it to us in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to answer it.

What does it mean when cucumbers turn orange?

There are a variety of factors that can cause a cucumber to turn orange. Those include, overwatering, nutrient deficiencies, viruses and diseases, a lack of pollination, or the type of variety of cucumber.

Are overripe cucumbers edible?

Yes, overripe cucumbers are edible, but you might not like the bitter flavor.

Pair of cucumbers
Pair of cucumbers on a vine

Do orange cucumbers taste good?

The reason for the cucumber turning orange will determine first whether the cucumber is safe to eat and second if the cucumber tastes good.

If you’ve determined the cucumber is safe to eat, and the reason for the cucumber being orange is because if its variety, then yes, they taste good.

If the reason for the cucumber being orange is for any other reason, you likely won’t appreciate its flavor.

Can you eat cucumbers after they turn yellow?

Yes and no.  The reason for the cucumbers turning yellow will be the determining factor as to whether they can be eaten.  If the cucumbers are diseased, have a virus or bacteria causing them to turn yellow, then you don’t want to risk eating them. 

If it’s simply because they’ve been overwatered or under pollinated, it’s fine to eat them anyway, although you might not like the flavor as they tend to be quite bitter. 

Cucumber Related Ideas & Recipes:

Cucumber vs Zucchini
Easy Peasant Salad
Watercress and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
Copycat Panera Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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