Definitions

indian cucumber

Pickled cucumber

A pickled cucumber, most often simply called a pickle in the United States and Canada, is a cucumber that has been pickled in a brine, vinegar, or other solutions and left to ferment for a period of time.

Origin

Cucumbers were probably first pickled 4400 years ago in Mesopotamia. In India, pickles were well known by the Vedic period.

The pickling process was also known to the Ancient Greeks. Aristotle is reported to have praised pickled cucumbers for their healing effects. Julius Caesar's soldiers ate pickled cucumbers as health aids; many other brine-soaked foods were part of daily life in Ancient Rome. Cucumber pickling remained widespread across the Levant and Maghreb regions, where it is still very popular today.

Pickled cucumbers became popular in the United States due to the influence of the cuisine of Central and Eastern European immigrants.

Types

Gherkin

A gherkin is not only a pickle of a certain size but also a particular species of cucumber: the West Indian or Burr cucumber (Cucumis anguria), which produces a somewhat smaller fruit than the garden cucumber (Cucumis sativus). Standard pickles are made from the West Indian cucumber, but the term gherkin has become loosely used as any small cucumber pickled in a sweet vinegar brine, regardless of the variety of cucumber used.

Kosher dill

A "kosher" dill pickle is usually not kosher in the sense that it has been prepared under rabbinical supervision, which would ensure that no non-kosher ingredients were used, and that no utensil in contact with the pickles had ever been in contact with food that was not kosher. Rather, it is a pickle made in the traditional manner of Jewish New York City pickle makers, with generous addition of garlic to the brine.

Polish


Polish style pickled cucumbers (Polish: ogórek kiszony, plural: ogórki kiszone) are a type of pickled cucumber developed in the northern parts of Europe and have been exported worldwide and are found in the cuisines of many countries. As opposed to some other varieties of pickled cucumbers, they are prepared using the traditional process of natural fermentation in a salty brine which makes them grow sour. There is no vinegar used in the brine of a Polish-style pickled cucumber (Ogórek kiszony). 

Typically, small cucumbers are placed in a ceramic vessel or a wooden barrel, together with a variety of spices. Among those traditionally used in many recipes are garlic, horseradish, whole dill stems with umbels and green seeds, white mustard seeds, oak, cherry, blackcurrant and bay laurel leaves, dried allspice fruits, and — most importantly — salt. The cucumbers are then placed under clear water and kept under a non-airtight cover for several weeks, depending on taste and external temperature. The more salt is added the more sour the cucumbers become. Since they are produced without vinegar, a scum forms on the top, but this does not indicate they have spoiled, and the scum is just removed. They do not, however, keep as long as cucumbers pickled with vinegar.

The concoction produced during the fermentation process is often consumed as a drink (a natural treatment against hangover, rather).

In Poland they are traditionally served as a side dish to vodka.

Lime

Lime pickles are soaked in lime rather than in a salt brine. Vinegar and sugar are often added after the 24-hour soak in lime, along with pickling spices, although this is done more to enhance texture (by making them crisper) than as a preservative. The lime is then rinsed off the pickles.

Bread and butter

Bread-and-butter pickles are sweeter in flavor than dill pickles, having a high concentration of sugar added to the brine. Rather than being served alongside a sandwich, they are more often used in fully-flavored sandwiches, such as hamburgers, or used in potato salad. Cucumbers to be made into bread and butters are often sliced before pickling.

Swedish and Danish

Swedish pickled cucumbers (pressgurka) are thinly sliced, mixed with salt and pressed to drain some water from the cucumber slices. Afterwards placed in a jar with a sour-sweet brine of vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper and parsley.

Danish cucumber salad (agurkesalat) is similar, but the cucumbers are not pressed and the brine doesn't have parsley. The cucumber salad accompanies meat dishes, especially a roasted chicken dish (gammeldags kylling med agurkesalat), and is used on Danish hot dogs.

Kool-Aid Pickles (a.k.a. "Koolickles")

Kool-Aid pickles (enjoyed by children in parts of the Southern United States) are created by soaking dill pickles in a mixture of Kool-Aid and pickle brine.

Nutrition

Much like sauerkraut (also technically a pickle), pickled cucumbers are rich in vitamin C. Even though pickled cucumbers have been put through the pickling process, they are technically a fruit. For more information, see NutritionData: Pickles

Serving

In the United States, pickles are often served as a "side" to various lunches in the form of a "pickle spear", which is a pickled cucumber cut length-wise into quarters or sixths. The pickle may be used as a condiment on a hamburger or other sandwich (usually in slice form), or to a sausage or hot dog in chopped form as pickle relish. A pickle slice is commonly referred to as a 'chip'.

Soured cucumbers are commonly used in a variety of dishes — for example, pickle-stuffed meatloaf, potato salad or chicken salad — or consumed alone as an appetizer.

Pickles have also been introduced in fried form, either deep-fried plain, or with a breading surrounding the spear.

References

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