At a farmers market recently, I came across a variety of cucumber called “Burpless Cucumber”. Does it mean you won’t burp after eating these cucumbers? Do cucumbers even cause burping? Does burpless mean something else entirely? With so many questions, I decided to do some research to find out.
Seed companies market Burpless Cucumbers as cucumbers that will reduce digestive problems including reflux, flatulence and gas that produce burps. A chemical compound called cucurbitacin, found on the skin and stem, is said to the be likely cause of burpiness.
Do Cucumbers Make You Burp?
Yes, some people are susceptible to burping after eating cucumbers. Those affected by this digestive upset may also experience digestive problems with other foods. This is due to cucurbitacins (more on this below), also found in zucchini/squash, melon and pumpkin.
As cucurbitacins are found on the skin and stem of the cucumber fruit, peeling away the skin, some of the outer flesh and cutting off more of the stem end may reduce the likelihood of burping after eating.
What are Burpless Cucumbers?
Burpless cucumbers are cucumbers bred with no or reduced levels of cucurbitacin. This reduces bitterness and reportedly the likelihood of burping. Cucurbitacin is highest on the skin and stem of the cucumber fruit.
Burpless cucumbers have thinner skins and fewer seeds than other cucumber varieties. Due to their thin skins, they do not require peeling.
Burpless Cucumbers are produced by both the American and Asian market. The Asian cucumber is also known as English cucumber, trellis cucumber and telegraph cucumber. The Asian Burpless Cucumber has fewer cucurbitacins than the American Burpless Cucumber.
If you would like to grow Burpless Cucumbers, you can purchase seeds here.
Tell Me More About Cucurbitacin, Does It Cause Burping?
Cucumbers naturally contain the chemical compound cucurbitacin, said to be the reason behind gas inducing burps. By breeding cucumbers with low or no cucurbitacin, the theory goes that you will have cucumbers that do not cause burping.
Cucurbitacin produces a bitter taste in cucumbers. The more cucurbitacin, the more bitter the taste of the cucumber and the increased digestive upset resulting in burps in some people.
Cucurbitacin and resulting bitterness are affected by growing conditions. In extreme heat and/or drought, cucurbitacin increases and causes more bitterness.
The compound cucurbitacin is natures way of protecting the cucumber fruit from being eaten by animals and other predators. The bitter taste deters predators.
However, an experiment by Todd C. Wehner found here revealed there is no clear evidence to confirm that it is, in fact, the cucurbitacin in cucumbers that produces burping.
There was, however, evidence to suggest that Asian trellis cucumbers, marketed in the US as burpless, may produce less burpiness to those people already susceptible to digestive problems after consumption. But not because they are cucurbitacin or bitter free. There is still no clear evidence that cucurbitacin is the cause of burping.
Cucumbers are known to cause digestive problems in some people, including burpiness. As a result, the Burpless Cucumber has been bred to reduce cucurbitacins, which is said to cause digestive upset. However, the jury is still out as to which chemical compound is causing burping.
In any case, burpless cucumbers have lovely thin skins, so they do not require peeling, and they taste delicious. This makes them a great addition to the home vegetable garden. So why not try them in your food garden?