What Are Burpless Cucumbers?

in HortTechnology
Author: Todd C. Wehner1
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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7609.

Burpless cucumbers are listed in many seed catalogs as being milder in taste (or easier on the digestion) than the american slicing type. It has been suggested by researchers that burpless cucumbers 1) contain less of a burp-causing compound, 2) are genetically bitterfree, or 3) are just the marketing term for oriental trellis cucumbers sold in the U.S. The objective of this experiment was to determine whether oriental trellis cucumbers cause less burping when eaten, and whether they are genetically bitterfree. An american slicer (`Marketmore 76'), a bitterfree slicer (`Marketmore 80'), and a burpless oriental trellis slicer (`Tasty Bright') were compared. Burpiness of the fruit was determined in the field in two seasons (spring and summer) and two replications. Six judges were grouped into burp-susceptible and burp-resistant. They evaluated the cultivars over two harvests by eating a 4-inch (100-mm) length of one fruit of the three cultivars (in random order) on three consecutive days. Burpiness was rated 0 to 9 (0 = none, 1 to 3 = slight, 4 to 6 = moderate, 7 to 9 = severe). Bitterness of the plants was determined (using different judges) by tasting one cotyledon of six seedlings per cultivar. Cotyledon bitterness is an indicator of plant bitterness; bitterfree plants lack cucurbitacins, and have mild-tasting fruit. Results of taste tests indicated that burpiness ratings were not significantly differentfor burp resistant judges. However, oriental trellis cucumbers were slightly but significantly milder than american slicers for judges susceptible to burping. `Marketmore 76' and `Tasty Bright' were normal-bitter, and `Marketmore 80' was bitterfree. An additional 11 oriental trellis cultivars were also tested for bitterness to determine whether Tasty Bright was typical in bitterness; they were all normal-bitter. In conclusion, oriental trellis cucumbers are not bitterfree, but are slightly milder for burp-susceptible people to eat. Finally, burpless is the marketing term for oriental trellis cucumbers in the United States.

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