What Is the Different Between a Gherkin and a Pickle?

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When one finds himself in a pickle, there is always some form of quandary at work. So why do pickles receive such a poor rap? Pickles are delightful in addition to displaying a vital way of food preservation.

Maybe this link with complexity stems from the ambiguous labeling of some pickled items. The instance of gherkin vs. pickle is a prominent illustration of this dilemma. The seas are definitely murky when it comes to discriminating between these two. The details of each of these treats may vary depending on not just who you ask, but also where you are when you inquire!

Simply described, a gherkin is a sort of pickle, although not all pickles are gherkins. Confused? You won’t be by the end of this!

Let’s Talk About the Word “Pickle”

It’s much more difficult to compare two dishes when one of them is both a verb and a noun! Let’s look at the two meanings of this complex term.

To Pickle, or Not to Pickle

Pickling a food implies putting it through a precise process in which it is cleaned and prepared before being immersed in a brine solution, which is often a mixture of the following ingredients: water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and aromatics.

What is the point of pickling food, besides than making it delicious? Pickling was a very significant way of food preservation long before refrigerators and other temperature control devices were invented. The precise mix of vinegar, sugar, and salt that soaks into the pickled food makes mold and dangerous germs practically difficult to thrive inside. As a result, pickled fresh food lasts significantly longer than untreated fresh produce. Even in this day and age, pickling is an important means of preserving food and getting the most out of each harvest.

Even in modern nations, when almost every family has some kind of refrigeration, consumers want the sweet and tangy taste of pickled foods. As a result, the pickling process is unlikely to disappear anytime soon!

What is a Pickle?

Although any thing that has been pickled may be casually referred to as a pickle, what individuals mean by this phrase depends totally on who you question and where they come from. When most people in North America hear the term pickle, they immediately think of the cucumber species, Cucumis sativus. If they were to get another pickled dish in its stead, like a slice of pickled mango, they would be absolutely (and hopefully pleasantly!) shocked.

In other parts of the globe, though, you must specifically request a pickled cucumber. Pickle may refer to a variety of pickled foods or a condiment such as piccalillia, a chopped blend of several pickled vegetables and spices.

Beyond Cucumbers!

Pickled cucumbers aren’t the only method to get that sweet and tangy pickle fix, as we’ve recently discovered. There is a vast universe of pickled foods available, some of which may seem strange, but don’t be scared to try them!

  • Vegetables that have been pickled. There are several vegetables that lend themselves well to pickling, including onions, green beans, asparagus, carrots, beets, radishes, peppers, and the list goes on.
  • Fruits pickled with vinegar. Yep, you read it correctly: pickled fruit is on the menu. It may seem counterintuitive to soak sweet and delicious fruit in a harsh vinegar solution, but the results will astound you! Watermelon, strawberries, mango, cherries, pineapple, and even blueberries respond nicely to the pickling procedure.
  • Various foods that have been pickled. Pickling protein sources like fish and eggs is also viable and common in many cuisines. Pickled fish pairs well with oily fish like herring or mackerel, and pickled eggs may survive for months longer than fresh eggs!

Let’s Talk About Gherkins

Unlike pickles, which do not literally grow from a plant of the same name, gherkins do grow from plants that yield fruits called gherkins! What’s amusing is that they are most certainly not the pickled gherkins you’re used to. Also, you are unlikely to get fresh gherkins anytime soon since these varieties of fruit are not extensively farmed.

Burr Gherkins

Cucumis anguria, a kind of gherkin, is also known as the West Indian gherkin or Burr gherkin. These plants’ fruits are coated with spiky-looking burrs, and they don’t grow very big, only reaching 1-2 inches in length. Burr gherkins are often pickled and consumed in the locations where these plants grow, although they are not widely spread. As a result, the jars of gherkins filling the shelves of your local store are unlikely to contain any of this species.

Mexican Sour Gherkins

Another kind is the Mexican sour gherkin, commonly known (quite affectionately) as the cucamelon since the fruits resemble little watermelons! These small fruits are just around 1 inch in size, making them ideally bite-sized and oh-so-snackable. These small gherkins may be eaten raw or pickled and have a surprisingly bitter flavor. Yet, you will never mistake a jar of pickled Mexican gherkins for regular pickled gherkins; they are just not the same thing!

What Are Gherkins?

So, if that jar of gherkins doesn’t include either of the fruits that we properly call gherkins, what exactly are they? In reality, those tiny little packets of elegant appearing pickled gherkins are usually made up of micro cucumbers that are picked before they get huge and seedy like regular pickling cucumbers.

Yet, regionality enters the picture once again in terms of definition. Gherkins are all pickled cucumbers, regardless of size, in nations such as the United Kingdom, India, and Australia. In the United States and Canada, the term “gherkin” refers to a particular kind of tiny, pickled cucumber.

Gherkin vs. Pickle

Notwithstanding the nomenclature confusion (we’re in a pickle now, aren’t we? ), there are a few key distinctions between a gherkin and a pickle. Let’s take a short look at how these two stack up in terms of size, flavor, texture, and applications.

Gherkin vs. Pickle: Size


Gherkins are usually modest in size since they are often produced from young cucumbers. They are typically 1-3 inches long, however it is not uncommon to encounter an extremely little or super giant gherkin in your lot! Gherkins are seldom trimmed or divided before pickling, therefore a jar of gherkins will always include tiny, complete pickles.


Cucumber pickles may be created from cukes of any size, from small to the monster-sized pickles often seen on the deli counter. Cucumber pickles, like gherkins, may be pickled whole but are also regularly chopped into different shapes: spears, slices, rounds, and chips, to mention a few!

Gherkin vs. Pickle: Taste & Texture


Gherkins are often produced with a specific sort of pickling brine, giving them a characteristic taste that you can anticipate when you open the jar. Since the brine contains strong tastes like dill and garlic, they taste stronger than many other pickles. Moreover, gherkins are generally pickled with a little of sugar, which keeps the gherkins sweet as well as sour. Gherkins’ texture is extremely crunchy due to their tiny size, and the cucumbers’ thin skin creates a delightful snap!


Cucumber pickles have a significantly broader taste spectrum than gherkins. Some cucumber pickles are significantly more acidic than gherkins, while others are much sweeter. Normal pickles may also include aromatics such as bay leaves, chilies, and black peppercorns. Also, the size of the cucumbers used has a significant influence on the texture of the pickles. Pickled cucumbers with bigger size tend to have softer flesh and rougher peel, providing a totally different taste than gherkins.

Gherkin vs. Pickle: How Are They Used?


Since a gherkin is a pickled young cucumber, it is perfectly OK to eat whole and is regularly used in this manner. Pickled gherkins are a popular addition to a cheese plate or charcuterie board because their crisp texture and sharp taste contrast well with creamy cheeses and meats. Moreover, their small size makes it all too simple to feast on gherkins right from the jar!


Pickles, unlike gherkins, are more often utilized in other ways than eaten whole. Sliced pickled cucumber goes well with a sandwich or burger, while diced pickles are widely used in mayonnaise-based salads like potato or egg salad. Pickle-derived condiments include sweet pickle relish and tartar sauce.

Types of Gherkins

Since the characteristics that distinguish pickles from gherkins are largely confined to certain size and taste, there isn’t a very diverse selection of gherkin variants available. Although there are several gherkin brands and recipes (and even some made with actual gherkins if you seek hard enough!) On your grocery store shelf, you’re most likely to come across one of these two:


The most common variety of pickled gherkin has no specific name; it is just a gherkin! As previously stated, a gherkin is simply a little pickled cucumber, usually in a gently sweetened brine flavored with aromatics like as garlic and dill.


Cornichons, often known as French gherkins, are a form of prepared gherkin. They are often created using specialized cucumber species, such as fin de meaux, which yield fruits that are just the proper size for the task. Cornichons are usually brined with tarragon rather of dill, and hence have a distinct taste from conventional gherkins.

Types of Pickled Cucumbers

Unlike gherkins, which only come in one or two varieties, a stroll down the pickle aisle at your local supermarket will provide you with an almost impossible selection! Sweet pickle, dill pickle, spicy picklethe possibilities seem limitless. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular options:

Kosher Dill Pickles

Although not necessarily kosher in terms of Jewish dietary law, the phrase kosher dill refers to pickles produced in the form of traditional Jewish deli pickles. Kosher pickles are commonly brined with fresh dill and chopped garlic, and have a delightfully acidic, sour flavor as contrasted to other, sweeter pickles.

Half Sour Pickles

Half sour pickles are comparable to kosher dill pickles in that they use the same foundation ingredients and have a similar taste. They vary, however, in the amount of time they spend in the brine. Half-sour pickles are removed from brine when remaining light green and crunchy, with a crisp, fresh taste. Kosher dills, on the other hand, are typically yellowed owing to their lengthy stay in the brine solution and have a considerably stronger taste than the half sour pickle.

Bread and Butter Pickles

Bread & butter pickles have an intriguing name and an even more intriguing taste owing to a unique brine ingredient combination. A traditional bread and butter pickle brine would typically contain chopped onion, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds, in addition to the conventional solution of vinegar, water, and salt. Bread & butter pickles are noticeably sweeter than regular cucumber pickles and include a generous amount of sugar for an addictively sweet but sour crunch.

Recapping the Differences Between Gherkins and Pickles

A pickle is just any cucumber (or vegetable! or fruit! or anything!) that has gone through the pickling process. A gherkin is a particularly specialized sort of pickled cucumber that is distinguished by its size, texture, and taste qualities from the great variety of other pickles available.

These interpretations will hold up in portions of North America and the United States, but in other parts of the globe, these designations may be reversed, so do your homework and don’t be startled if you ask for a pickle with your sandwich!

Despite their differences, gherkins and pickles are both delicious and may be used in many of the same ways. Both of these will provide a vinegary bite to any cuisine and are best eaten whole and straight from the jar.


Is a gherkin a dill pickle?

This easy dill pickle recipe offers the perfect combination of tart vinegar and fragrant dill. These renowned pickled cucumbers (also known as gherkins) pair well with almost everything, whether sliced atop handmade burgers, minced through acidic tartare sauce, or served as part of a cheeseboard.

Are pickles made from cucumbers or gherkins?

Cucumbers are Pickles.

They like warmer weather and plenty of water! Pickling cucumbers such as Kirby or Persian cucumbers are popular. They are rinsed and then immersed in a pickling solution composed of water, salt, spices, and vinegar after being plucked. Read about the many sorts of cucumbers.

Do pickles taste like gherkins?

Taste: The flavors of pickles and gherkins are quite similar, however some people believe that dill pickles have a more acidic taste than dill-flavored gherkins. Gherkins and pickles have comparable nutritional profiles.

Why are pickled cucumber called gherkins?

The term “gherkin” is derived from the early modern Dutch words gurken or augurken, which mean “little pickled cucumber.” Cornichons are sour French pickles prepared with pickled gherkins in vinegar and tarragon. They are typically served with pâtés and cold meats. Sweet gherkins, which include sugar in the pickling brine, are another popular kind.

Do McDonald’s use pickles or gherkins?

Dill pickles are used in McDonald’s burgers, especially the Big Mac®.

What do Americans call pickles gherkins?

The only distinction is where you reside. Gherkins are called pickles in America, despite the fact that a pickle is technically any pickled vegetable.

What are baby pickles called?

Gherkins (also known as baby pickles) are little, rough cucumbers used mostly for pickling. Gherkins are frequently jarred whole since they are so little.

Can you eat gherkins raw?

Gherkins may be eaten raw, though they can be bitter; they can also be cooked if desired. When it comes to pickling, salt them overnight, rinse, and put them into a sterile jar with spiced vinegar. I like a light, somewhat sweet pickling, so I use rice vinegar with a teaspoon of caster sugar.

What are the three 3 types of dill pickles?

Pickles may be manufactured in three ways: refrigerated, fresh packed, or processed. All three reach the same pickling end objective, but use various tactics to get there, most notably the quantity of brine used and the length of time required.

Is it OK to eat pickled gherkins?

Indeed, fermented pickles and veggies are high in beneficial bacteria that your body will thank you for include in your diet. Nevertheless, store-bought choices may be quite high in salt, so keep that in mind if you intend on purchasing yours from a supermarket.

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