Why a wrapped cuke?
October 5, 2006 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Why are cucumbers shrink-wrapped at the grocery store, when no other vegetable or produce is similarly wrapped in plastic?
posted by Robot Johnny to Food & Drink (17 answers total)
Best answer: My girlfriend says, "They are English Cucumbers that are in plastic wrap". The referenced page says the wrapping is done to maintain water.
posted by SirStan at 5:10 PM on October 5, 2006

I see two questions.
Why are cucumbers shrink-wrapped? A little googling leads me to this site, which tells me "Shrink-wrapping will minimize moisture loss and extend shelf life by several days."
Further googling leads me to believe that cucumbers are not the only vegetable that experiences this: You can purchase broccoli from this place shrink-wrapped, naked, shower capped or cello wrapped.

I assume that many farmers or distributers of vegetables have yet to implement the systems required to shrinkwrap their veges, and that the cucumber system was the easiest and cheapest or perhaps more cost efficient. But I don't know. And FYI, my supermarket also sells only cucumbers this way (that I recall) and I'm in Australia.
posted by b33j at 5:14 PM on October 5, 2006

Eeew Sir Stan,
According to this site they are either waxed or wrapped in plastic to seal in moisture.
posted by defcom1 at 5:17 PM on October 5, 2006

We can buy cucumbers sans condom.
posted by oxford blue at 5:21 PM on October 5, 2006

I recently got some English cucumbers from a produce-delivery company, and I was astounded how quickly they rotted and started growing mold (like, within two or three days). So I'm guessing the shelf-life concerns are serious.
posted by occhiblu at 5:39 PM on October 5, 2006

Yep, in America, regular cukes aren't shrink-wrapped, just the English variety.

In Japan, though? Hoo boy. Everything is individually wrapped, which drove my very eco-conscious friend CRAZY when we shopped there. Her comment: "I can't believe they don't individually wrap each grape."

The Japanese love them some packaging, be it food, gifts, or other. I bought three bookmarks in Kyoto, expecting they'd just be put in one bag. Instead, each was individually wrapped (with tape and put into a small bag of its own, which then went in a larger bag.
posted by GaelFC at 6:14 PM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

Shrink wrapped means they don't have to be "waxed". And parafin is a know carcinogen increasing yout risk for testicular cancer. Shrink wrap good/Wax bad. You'd be suprised to learn how many "fresh" vegetables are waxed. Turnips, Peppers, Cukes, sometimes Lemons. Anybody else?
posted by sgobbare at 7:29 PM on October 5, 2006

Many people are familiar with the vast superiority of home-grown tomatoes compared to their store-bought bretheren, but home-grown cucumbers are similarly vastly superior to their store-bought counterparts, in part, due to the thinness of their skins. Shrink wrapping and waxing help, of course, but commercially-grown cucumbers must be of relatively thick-skinned varieties in order to survive shipping and storage. Home-grown, thin-skinned cucumbers do not need to be peeled, and, in fact, the skins are quite delicious. The fruits are, however, quite delicate, and must be consumed within a day or two of harvest.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:31 PM on October 5, 2006

I've seen individual baking potatos sold shrinked wrapped.
posted by mmascolino at 7:46 PM on October 5, 2006

And parafin is a know carcinogen

Which is probably why they usually use carnauba wax on vegetables...
posted by oats at 7:49 PM on October 5, 2006

Funny, I've wondered the same thing. I am under the impression these "English" cukes are what were called "burp-less" cucumbers when I was in Canada, in the late 60's. Supposedly these didn't need to be skinned. I skin them anyway, I'm sensitive to such things.
posted by Goofyy at 9:18 PM on October 5, 2006

I'd never heard of an 'English' cucumber before, but on behalf of my nation, I'm more than happy to accept the "bestest cucumbers" award.

We'd like to thank our mums.
posted by flameproof at 1:39 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

... You're supposed to skin cucumbers? I've enjoyed these (mostly the "normal" variety) my whole life, and never bothered skinning them before eating the tasty things by the slice.

Am I going to die of testicular cancer now?
posted by po at 2:45 AM on October 6, 2006

Am I going to die of testicular cancer now?

I predict that you will indeed die. Of something.
posted by GuyZero at 7:14 AM on October 6, 2006

The most nutritious part of a cucumber is the skin - I always eat it.
posted by agregoli at 9:21 AM on October 6, 2006

You'd be suprised to learn how many "fresh" vegetables are waxed. Turnips, Peppers, Cukes, sometimes Lemons. Anybody else?

Apples, of course.

Although the idea of waxing produce bothers me, there is one benefit -- whenever I can't manage to open one of those spooled plastic bags, I just pick up a (non-English) cucumber. The waxy residue on my fingers then makes opening the bag easy.
posted by Rash at 9:22 AM on October 6, 2006

Potatoes, both sweet and baking, are sometimes shrinkwrapped where I work.

Lettuce too.
posted by Glitter Ninja at 2:15 PM on October 6, 2006

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