Gherkins: Pickled Cucumbers With a Fancy Name

From sandwiches to hot dogs and salads to spreads, gherkins add just the right amount of zing to almost anything. Read on to learn more about them and their multiple culinary uses.  

What is a Gherkin?

Gherkins, also known as baby pickles, are small cucumbers that are usually pickled in brine or acidic solution. They range from 1 to 5 inches in length and are characterized by many warty bumps scattered all over their pale yellow to yellowish-green skin.

Gherkins vs Pickles: What’s The Difference?

The word “gherkin” has been derived from the Dutch word “gurken” meaning “a small pickled cucumber”. In Britain, oftentimes, simply a pickled cucumber is called “gherkin”. However, in the U.S and Canada, pickled cucumbers are referred to as “pickles”.

Image Credit: Lukáš Jančička from Pixabay 

Gherkins vs Dill Pickles

 Dill pickles are often confused with gherkins. Gherkins are the same as dill pickles, but without the dill herb. Dill pickles, on the other hand, contain dill herb and that’s what makes all the difference between the two. You can try out our dill pickle recipe to complement your everyday meals.

How to Pickle a Gherkin?

The majority of gherkins are pickled in a salt solution among herbs and spices. However, sweet gherkins, also called “bread and butter pickles”, are a very popular variety that have added sugar to give them a sweet-savory flavor.

These miniature cucumbers are left to ferment in a brine solution at room temperature for up to several weeks. Once the gherkins are ready, they are shifted towards a cool place, usually, a refrigerator, to prevent any more fermentation.

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Flavor of Gherkins

Raw gherkins are bitter, and their skin has to be peeled off before consumption. Pickled gherkins are sour, savory, and sometimes sweet (if sugar is added) coupled with an array of flavors coming from the spices they are pickled in. Dill herb, mustard seeds, rosemary, horseradish, tarragon, and garlic are among the most popular ingredients to spice up gherkins.

Culinary Uses of Gherkins

Gherkins and pickles are staple foods in Southern cuisine. Sliced gherkins or dill pickles are served as a side with sandwiches, hot dogs, cold cuts, and subs particularly, in the U.S, Australia, and Canada. Gherkins are also added to Southern salads. Try out our Texas Potato Salad by using chopped gherkins instead of dill pickles to complement your barbeques.

To add a hearty tang to your meals, gherkins can even be cooked like vegetables just like our spicy carrots and roasted potatoes.

Gherkins are a much popular condiment for fish and chips in Southern England. Similarly, Ukrainian cuisine uses pickled cucumbers in their traditional soup, called rassolnik. Quite recently, breaded, deep-fried gherkins have become popular in bars and restaurants across the United States. 

Finely chopped pickles, known as pickle relish, can also be added to dressings, and sandwich spreads for a tangy-savory bite. Moreover, pickle relish is widely savored over sausages and hot dogs. You can also pair gherkins with smoked fish like our Smoked Fish and Smokeless Smoked Salmon for that lovely zing.

Feature Image: Gundula Vogel from Pixabay 

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