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Does 'milking' cucumbers actually make them taste better?

It's a salad-making hack we never knew we needed.
/ Source: TODAY

Social distancing has led to all sorts of at-home kitchen discoveries, from "fried" microwaved eggs to tiny pancake cereal and even whipped peanut butter milk.

But the latest food-related trick taking over TikTok is a prepping tip that involves doing something pretty unusual with a very basic salad ingredient.

If you didn't think cucumbers could be milked, you were wrong.

“Who here has ever milked a cucumber?” Ingrid Perkins, known on TikTok as @basicallyperkfect, recently asked her followers in a new video she posted about a week ago.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever had a cucumber that was a little bitter, like it just doesn’t take fresh? That’s because you need to milk your cucumbers!” she continues.

“Milking the cucumber actually brings out the bitterness leaving the cucumber with a fresh, clean taste,” Perkins explained to TODAY via email. But be prepared to see varying degrees of “milk” coming out of your cucumber, depending on what type it is.

First, all you have to do is cut the end off a standard-sized American slicing cucumber. Then, rub that edge on the exposed cucumber flesh in circular motions until you see some white “milk,” or a clear foamy liquid, start to come out. It may drip down the sides, so keep a paper towel handy.

Perkins said she learned about this fascinating hack from her sister-in-law, and it had actually been passed down through generations of her husband’s Alabama-based family.

While Perkins' new video has amassed over 1 million views in just a week, plenty of people on social media said they've known about the trick for awhile.

But does it actually work and should we all be milking our cucumbers?

"Yes, this is a real thing," John Adler, vice president of culinary operations at meal-kit delivery service Blue Apron, told TODAY. "Cucurbitacin is the compound in cucurbits — the family of vegetables of which cucumbers is a member — that makes them bitter."

While this compound is "not necessarily present in all cucumbers," Adler said it's often concentrated at the ends of cucumbers. Therefore, cutting off the end of a cucumber and stimulating the cut side draws out the cucurbitacin and cuts down on the bitterness. If you really hate bitter flavors, then you can also peel off the dark green skin. However, you'll lose a lot of the veggie's key nutrients. Seedless cucumbers and European cucumbers also tend to be less bitter.

So, while this hack does take some of the bitterness out of standard American cucumbers, opting for a different cucumber variety altogether may save you more time and energy while prepping that salad.