The case of the curious cucumber

Bob Dluzen
Special to The Detroit News

A few days ago my daughter Robin was slicing cucumbers for sour cream cucumbers (a family favorite). To her surprise she discovered a very unusual cucumber.

Cucumber fruits by definition contain three seed sections (carpels) where the seeds develop. These are easily seen in cross-section whenever a cucumber is sliced. This happens because the flower itself is divided into three even before it is pollinated, so it makes sense that the cucumber fruit itself would develop along those three parts.

As it turns out, Robin found a cucumber having four of these sections rather than the normal three. She said it immediately caught her eye because it looked so weird. There was no difference in taste.

Since she lives in a different state, I’m glad she took a picture of it to share so we can all see.

As with normal cucumbers, the farmer harvested this cucumber well before the seeds matured so there would have been no chance that the seeds could have been saved.

In all of my years making pickles and salads I’ve sliced hundreds of cucumbers and have never seen anything like it. Was it a GMO or new variety? Could be that it was just a rare, natural genetic mutation. In any case, it was the only cucumber from that batch she brought home from the grocery store.

It’s possible this four-section thing happens more often than I think it does, but I don’t think so.

I look at it as a sign of really good luck, sort of like finding a four-leaf clover but multiplied many times over!

So keep an eye out for a lucky four-lobed cucumber and maybe you’ll be rewarded with an extra dose of good luck.