A Variety of Pickles
Because pickling is a form of food preservation, the types and varieties of pickles are as varied as the multitude of cultures in the world. Pickled cucumbers can be spicy, garlicky, sour, or sweet and may contain other vegetables to enhance the flavor.
Dill pickles are one of the most popular types of pickles across the world. Dill pickles are made by adding dill weed and seed to the brine that ferments the pickles. In commercial dill pickle production manufacturers use dill oil rather than the fresh herb. Dill pickles come in different varieties including German and Polish dills, kosher dills, and genuine dills.
German dill pickles are non-fermented (made without a brine) and are only packed in vinegar or lemon juice. Polish dills are fermented with added garlic. Kosher dills are not always truly kosher, but they are a fermented dill that has had copious amounts of garlic added during the last stage of fermentation. Part of the process to make a food product kosher is that it must first be inspected by a Rabbi.
So called genuine dill pickles are made using the more old-fashioned method of lactic fermentation. Dill is only added during the last stage of fermentation in the crock or in the jars. These pickles are very strong with a sour flavor.
Bread and butter pickles are a type of sweet pickle that is usually cut in slices and pickled along with onions. Bread and butter pickles are often used on hamburgers and sandwiches. Slippery Jacks are made with a similar brine but from cucumbers which have become overgrown, often they are packed as spears with the seeds removed.
While many pickles are referred to as gherkins, a gherkin is actually a specific variety of cucumber used for pickling. Gherkins are made from the West Indian, or burr, cucumber. A similar pickle is the French cornichon pickle which is pickled in wine vinegar and garlic when the cucumbers reach about 2 inches long.
Half-sour pickles are made in a brine that has no vinegar, just salt and water. The pickles are processed under refrigeration, and because the brine contains only salt water they remain crisp and keep a bright green color.
Sweet pickles are fermented with sugar added to the brine. Candied pickles are a type of sweet pickle that is packed in a heavy syrup brine to produce an extremely sweet pickle.
Kool-Aid pickles are popular in the southern U.S. To make these pickles a batch of double strength red liquid Kool-Aid and a pound of sugar is added to pickles that have already been processed. After a week in the refrigerator the pickles are bright red in color and have a sweet and sour flavor.
Tsukemono pickles are a type of Japanese pickle that includes mixture of vegetables including cabbage, cucumbers, daikon, and plums that are pickled in a soy brine.
Pickle relishes are even more varied than pickles themselves. Relish can be made with sweet, sour, or chopped dill pickles, but many times peppers, corn, onions, fruit, tomatillos, or green tomatoes are added.
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The Nibble: Pickle Glossary