Dill pickle is cucumber pickled in a brine, vinegar, or other solution flavored with dill. It is normal for people to call dill pickles just pickle or pickles, especially in the US and Canada, without the need to emphasize which pickled food it is exactly (since you can actually pickle a lot of fruits and vegetables). The British call it gherkin, same as in Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. You can make pickled cucumber without dill, but it is not as delicious or tasty as dill pickles.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is an annual herb in the celery family Apiaceae. Its leaves and seeds are used as a herb or spice for flavoring food. The main purpose of using dill in pickled cucumber is to improve the flavor. Dill pickles is a low-calorie food. It also has vitamin K.
Cucumber is a widely-cultivated creeping vine plant in the Cucurbitaceae gourd family. Its cucumiform fruits – culinarily used as a vegetable – are used in making dill pickles. Cucumbers are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and antioxidants. It helps in weight loss. It also helps lower blood sugar levels.
Both cucumber and dill are grown in Texas.
Dill Pickle Trivia
- One of the theories regarding the history of pickled cucumbers involves workers building the Great Wall of China. Another theory offers the idea that pickled cucumber was first made in the Tigris Valley of Mesopotamia. The cucumbers used then came from India.
- Rassolnik, a soup common in Russia and Ukraine, is made using pickled cucumbers. They have been making this since the 15th century. Back then, the soup is called kalya.
- The term pickle is derived from “pekel”, a Dutch that means brine.
- Gherkin, which is what pickled cucumber is called in the UK, originated from the Dutch word “gurken” which means “cucumber”.
Dill Pickle Buying Guide
You can buy dill pickles in stores and online. You can also buy them from small, local businesses that make homemade dill pickles. Make sure the seal of the lid is intact. Check for the expiration date or best before date. Dill pickle glass jars are usually transparent and you can see the contents inside, and it wouldn’t hurt if you inspect the contents based on what you can see without removing the lid (since this is tampering with a sealed product and when you do this, the item is good as sold and you have to pay for it). Dill pickles are available all year long, so unless you need a large quantity of dill pickles for something specific (giving them to visiting friends or relatives, preparing food for catering, etc.), it is better to buy enough to last you until the next grocery day. This way, you don’t have dill pickle jars taking up space in your pantry or cupboard.
Be careful when buying dill pickles. Read the label for ingredients and if possible, choose the one with the least sodium. Food experts believe that dill pickles are high in sodium. A healthy alternative is to make your own, allowing you to control the sodium content of the dill pickle you eat.
Dill Pickle Production & Farming in Texas
Texans love dill pickle. Many Texas-based dill pickle businesses have been handed down from one generation to another. The reason they exist until today is that their dill pickle is delicious and there is a constant demand for it. Best Maid Pickles, for example, opened in 1926 in Mansfield, Texas. Now, this business is considered as “the largest family-owned manufacturer of shelf-stable pickles in the United States”.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
Commercial pickling uses preservatives. Below are some of the preservatives used in making dill pickles.
- Sodium benzoate is added to improve the shelf life of the dill pickle.
- Alum is used to make the texture of the pickled cucumber crispy. This food additive is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
- Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are used to help preserve the pickled cucumbers inside the glass bottle.
- Sodium chloride is used for preservation and to improve the taste of the dill pickles.
- Citric acid is used to boost the acidity or the sour flavor of the dill pickles.
Dill pickles are sold in glass bottles. An important part of the packaging is the label, which contains important information for the consumers, including the name of manufacturer, expiration or best-before date, ingredients, nutritional information, etc.
Enjoying Dill Pickles
You can eat dill pickles as a side dish or an appetizer. This is common practice in the US. You can also make this an ingredient when making hotdog sandwiches or hamburger sandwiches. You will find dill pickles in meatloaves, potato salads, and chicken salads. You can spread hummus on toasted brown rice bread and top it with dill pickles, fresh tomato slices, and spinach. Some restaurants especially in the southern part of the US serve deep-fried dill pickles coated with breading or batter. It can also be added to soup, similar to how they do it in Russia and Ukraine when preparing the traditional soup they call rassolnik. In southern England, they eat gherkins (their version of dill pickle) along with fish and chips.
Some people take a cucumber spear from the jar and munch on it. Others slice or chop it into smaller pieces to make pickle relish. You can buy dill pickles on a stick, known in places like Japan as “stick pickle” (ippon-tsuke).
When you eat dill pickles, you help improve your digestive system because dill pickles is a probiotic food.
Whether it is store-bought dill pickles or home-made dill pickles, storage is the same: refrigerate it.
Make your own refrigerator dill pickles
Canning is a way to store and preserve dill pickles. For those who do not have the items or the know-how to can dill pickles, you have the option of making your very own home-made refrigerator dill pickles – keep in mind also that if you do not can dill pickles the right way (unsanitary items, unwashed hands during canning, etc.), your dill pickle might be compromised and eating it may pose some serious health threats. If you know how to make refrigerator dill pickles, you have dill pickles stored in the fridge so that when you are craving for dill pickles, you don’t have to go out to go to the store to buy a jar. This is convenient and cheaper too, especially if you have cucumber in your garden.
This recipe takes 10 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook. For best flavor and taste, give it another 3 days inside the refrigerator before you eat it.
This recipe serves 12.
- Cucumber spears, 4 cups
- Fresh dill, 2 heads
- Garlic, 2 whole cloves
- Salt, 1 tablespoon
- Sugar, 1 tablespoon
- White vinegar, 1 1/2 cups
- Water 3 1/2 cups
Step 1. Combine water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil.
Step 2. Let the mixture cool completely.
Step 3. Put cucumber spears, garlic cloves, and fresh dill in a glass or jar with a lid. A plastic container will do.
Step 4. Fill the glass jar with the mixture.
Step 5. Seal the container with a lid.
Step 6. Refrigerate for 3 days or longer.