Can You Pickle Waxed Cucumbers?

Yes, you can pickle or ferment waxed cucumbers but there are going to be extra steps in the preparation process to get crisp and crunchy pickles. Even though this post is mainly going to mention the pickling process, it works just the same for a lacto-fermented process.

The edible wax on cucumbers does not make soggy or mushy pickles. It just hinders the brine from penetrating the cucumbers in order to pickle or ferment them. Therefore, if you place waxed cucumbers as whole spears straight into a brine, don’t be surprised your cukes will turn into mushy or soggy pickles. 

Ways To Pickle Waxed Cucumbers

ways-to-pickle-waxed-cucumbers
5 Way To Pickle Waxed Cucumbers

Don’t let waxed cucumbers stop you from turning them into pickles. You just need to do a little more preparation before you pickle or ferment them. It will also depend on what form you would prefer your pickles to be in.

Whole Spears

If the wax coating on the cucumbers does not bother you, you can poke holes in the cucumbers with a skewer stick or a metal fork, if you want to pickle your cucumbers as whole spears. You can poke as many holes as you want without compromising the structure of the cucumbers.

However, this may take longer than the recommended 72 hours to pickle or ferment your cukes because the brine does not have enough surface area to work with.

Lengthwise Cuts

You could cut the cukes lengthwise either into half or quarters, to get the pickling process going if you are not bothered with whether your pickles are whole or not.

Cross section Cuts

Cutting the cucumbers in cross section or coins works just as well to get more surface area for the brine to work its magic. For this method, chilling the cucumber in the fridge before cutting them into slices will prove to be worthwhile, in order to increase your chances of crisp pickle slices.

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>>>Click HERE For more tips on how you can get crunchy pickles

Peel Off or Remove The Cucumber Skin

This will be a surefire way of getting rid of the wax coating on cucumbers without the hassle of washing it off. You just need to be aware that if you remove the skin of the cucumber, you will notice that it gets rid of any bitterness and gives a milder flavor to the pickles.

In terms of texture, you may notice that the resulting pickles are not as firm as the ones with the skin left on. The expected crunch from biting down on a pickle will be lacking as well.

A slight and uneven bitter taste throughout the cucumber is perfectly natural as it contains cucurbitacin that is meant to deter fungus, insects and hungry herbivores.

If you don’t mind the change in texture and taste, then this method works well for whole spear cucumber pickles.

If you are bothered with the wax then the next subheading explains how you can get rid of it.

How To Remove Cucumber Wax?

How To Remove Cucumber Wax

If you do choose to wash the wax off the cucumbers prior to pickling, here are the steps;

  • Try an equal parts white vinegar or apple cider vinegar solution to filtered water and completely submerge the cucumbers for about 3-5 minutes. This process will help to break down the wax.
  • Brush the waxed cucumber with a bristled bamboo brush and you will get most of it out. Just be careful not to scrub too hard until you cause damage to the skin. Pickling cucumbers tend to have thinner skin compared to the slicing variety. Thinner skin means fewer seeds and a bigger bite-down area for a crunchy pickle.
  • Wash and rinse at least 3 times with cold water.
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Tip No.1: In the case of a lacto-fermented process, it might make more sense to use fermented brine from a previous batch. This is because the vinegar would have killed off most of the bacteria including the good ones that you would have wanted to lacto-ferment your cukes.

Tip No.2: Pickle or ferment your washed cucumbers right away as they will not last very long in their clean state. Your cleaned cucumber will be at the mercy of the environment now, without any of the synthetic or its natural wax to protect it.

How To Tell If A Cucumber Is Waxed?

Try gently running your thumbnail down the side of a cucumber and you might get a waxy residue from it. This wax is normally an edible synthetic FDA approved form of resin or shellac.

Unwaxed cucumbers feel more matte to the touch and have a more muted green color as they do not have that glossy sheen.

Are Cucumbers Naturally Waxy?

Freshly ripened cucumbers have their own natural wax called cuticular wax that helps prevent moisture loss and protects the cucumber from external environmental effects. However, this natural wax is normally cleaned off after harvesting, and the artificial edible wax is applied. 

It is meant to maintain the cucumber’s freshness during its transportation and distribution process while extending its shelf life and preserving its quality.

A freshly plucked cucumber normally does not look as shiny as its waxed counterpart because the synthetic wax gives it that glossy green sheen that the public has come to expect in their local supermarkets and greengrocers.

Are Pickling Cucumbers Waxed?

If you are getting your pickling cucumbers such as Kirbys or Persian mini cucumbers from your local supermarket or greengrocer, it is safe to assume that they would be waxed unless they have specified otherwise. If they are organic cucumbers, there is still a probability that they have been waxed. A more natural option such as carnauba may have been used instead. It is a plant-based wax derived from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree.

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Your best bet would be your local farmers’ market and strike a conversation with them. You have everything to gain just by asking. 

Conclusion

You will notice that all slicing methods mentioned above are ordinarily used for pickling or fermenting cucumbers anyway, regardless of whether they are waxed or not.

The whole point is to give as much area as possible for the brine to pickle the cukes and be able to achieve that in a desired time frame.

There will be information that suggests that you must never use waxed cucumbers in order to make crunchy pickles.

This is true, IF you are going to make your pickles with whole spears. However, if you don’t mind cutting your cukes into lengthwise halves, quarters or coins, then it is possible to still get crunchy pickles out of them.

A waxed cucumber will not make any difference to any pickling or fermenting process except when making whole spears out of them.