HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >



I understand that, in the old days, pickled vegetables provided needed nutrition and variety during the long winter. But now that fresh vegetables are available all year round, we have a new pickling fad that seems to take up half the Williams-Sonoma catalog. Other than a dill wedge on a hot dog---I grew up in Chicago---I never seem to want one. Not a breakfast food, wine un-friendly for dinner, usually don't eat sandwiches for lunch. And sweet pickles are horrible. IMO. So let's hear from pickle-lovers: What kind do you like, when do you eat them, with what, am I missing out on something good?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Vinegar and salt, yum! And usually low calorie to boot.

    9 Replies
    1. re: coll

      It don't matter what diet you are on, you can crunch a Kosher Dill!!

      1. re: PotatoHouse

        nope, they absolutely kill an atkins diet. i know, no one does atkins any more, but you said any diet . . .

        i love dill pickles as a side, but not on my burger or sandwich, unless of course it is a peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich (but thats another thread). They make a tasty and refreshing snack, face it - who's going to sit down and eat a plain cucumber?

        1. re: KaimukiMan

          "nope, they absolutely kill an atkins diet. i know, no one does atkins any more, but you said any diet . ."

          You'll have to explain that because I have done Atkins and don't remember Kosher Dills being verboten.

          1. re: PotatoHouse

            Dill pickles are totally fine on Atkins. Sweet pickles, no, but who the hell would eat those anyway?

            1. re: biondanonima

              Yea, I'm a low carber and eat pickles all the time but never the sweet pickles.

            2. re: PotatoHouse

              fruits and vegetables in general are not permitted except in limited quantities. so yes, if you want your limited quantity of veg to be a pickle, then a sour or dill would work. and yes the newer version of atkins is more liberal toward fruits and vegetables. But a few years ago my hardcore atkins friends slammed me for eating a pickle as a snack. i decided it wasn't the diet for me

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                All of my jars say either 0 or <1 g carbs and don't have sugar on the ingredient list so we must be eating different pickles.

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  Your friend was wrong. Atkins is very salad and vegetable friendly, also low-carb fruits like tomato and avocado. And that's just the first week. Exactly how much you can eat later in the diet depends on your personal metabolism.

              2. re: KaimukiMan

                I'm not a big fan of pickles. I do however love a summer, homegrown cucumber with just a little salt. The hothouse cucumbers or the waxed ones from the store just are not the same.

          2. As coll said, they are a crispy, vinegary, salty snack for me that's better for me (low carby, too) than chips.

            If you're having a charcuterie/cold cut tray that's fatty, the bite of the pickle really is a nice bright accompaniment to the richness of the meat.

            I could eat good pickles 24/7, usually as is.

            1. Cornishons with pate - yum.

              1. Traditionally pickles were lactic acid fermented which is good for the digestive tract similar to how yogurt is also good for it.

                The vinegar pickle become the norm with modern food production and allowed products to be stored at room temperature and transported long distances.

                Why? They taste good and the fermented ones promote a healthy GI tract.

                1. Perhaps new to you (and W-S) but "gourmet" pickles of all kinds have been sold for decades. My local wine shop has been selling cheese and packaged gourmet items for many years. I recall first seeing Hogue Cellars pickled asparagus probably 20 years ago, followed by a number of other vegetables. There are numerous other gourmet "pickles" that have come and gone over the years.

                  And for a former Chicagoan, you've omitted the ubiquitous giardiniera, the often spicy pickled vegetable mix that's essential on a beef sandwich (similar to muffaletta topping, sans olives).

                  And sauerkraut, the other, other Chicago pickle, has been an ethnic staple for centuries and enhances any number of dishes (as do pickled beets).

                  The answer to your question is "because they taste good."

                  1. You might as well ask why bother cooking food. If you want to deal purely with health issues, meat would need minimal cooking. No salt, spices or herbs needed. Most vegetables would be eaten raw. Starch products would only be processed or cooked until digestible. Otherwise, all other cooking is a waste of time, unless you happen to be interested in food that tastes good. Your view of pickles is very limited.

                    1. It's really simple, pickling is the only way to make a cucumber taste good.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: James Cristinian

                        Actually I make a pretty good cucumber sandwich of slices of peeled cucumber on homemade slightly sweet white bread slathered in an abundance of a nice tart mayonnaise and coated liberally with sea salt and ground pepper.

                        1. re: tim irvine

                          Sub the mayo and sea salt fir butter and blue cheese and you have the "meal" I made for my mother when she brought home my newborn brother from the hospital.

                          I was 3.

                          I still crave this concoction.

                      2. As already stated, some pickled veg cuts rich or fatty meat nicely (charcuterie, pate). It makes for a nice textural contrast on a sandwich (e.g. soft bread, soft sandwich filling, crunchy pickled veg). I love hot pepper relish on hot dogs (mixture of sweet pickle relish and chopped pickled hot peppers). Plain picked veg simply taken from the jar just tastes damn good as a snack for few calories and satisfies a hankering for a salty bite to eat.

                        As for a fad? Pickled stuff has been around forever and I don't remember it ever falling out of favor. WS sells an overpriced pickling kit, I suppose for those who aren't aware that they can pick up Ball brand stuff for a fraction of the price at the more low brow grocery store or discount store. Or dig around your mother/grandma's attic, you'll probably find the same tongs, kettle, etc.

                        1. Some pickled vegetables are good in Bloody Marys---asparagus---I live in Michigan.

                          1. Rare is the dill pickle I do not love. Bubbie's, Ba Tampte, Mt. Olive, Best Maid, hell, even Vlasic. And if the pickles are hotted up with habs, all the better.

                            Now they may not work as an entree--although I might be tempted--but they are a terrific accompaniment for so many things. And dill pickle juice may be even better than the pickles themselves. Too bad it does a number on my digestive system or I'd drink it by the jar full.

                            1. My life would be unthinkable without pickles.
                              Gherkins with a burger or salt beef sandwich, cornichons with pate or rilettes, piccalilli with pork pies, cheese and pickle sandwich, picked onions straight out of the jar, Japanese pickles with Tonkatsu, the pickled onions with pork pibil.
                              I just love the mouth puckering acidic tang and a lot of it is to do with cutting rich and fatty foods- though I have been known to drink vinegar straight from the bottle occasionally.

                              16 Replies
                              1. re: Paprikaboy

                                How could I forget pickled daikon and ginger? And even seaweed salad (technically not pickled but has the same flavor profile). And, hopping over to the mainland, also kimchi.

                                1. re: Paprikaboy

                                  Wow, I thought it was just me! I can drink many a vinegar from the bottle and often have shots of apple cider vinegar. I love pickles in all forms, except sweet. It has to be sour and a strong vinegar flavor. I love most things pickled - cucumbers (but hate unpickled cucumbers), cabbage, ginger, you name it, if it's pickled I'll probably love it.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    My dear old uncle Clarence used to make pickled eggs. Never had the courage to try 'em.

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      I love Emeril's pickled egg recipe! Delish.

                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                        Khan I looove pickled eggs. Back in the 70's, my dad's best friend owned a bar and they was always a HUGE jar on the bartop. I grew up on those things. And Schlitz. Just kidding about the Schlitz.

                                        I also love pickled pigs' feet.

                                        Sometimes if I have a giant jar devoid of pickles but still juice-filled, I'll pop some hard boiled eggs in there to make my own.

                                        Miss the smell of the Aqua Velva and Lucky Strikes, and the sound of the Sox on a black and white TV...that made the eggs seem more exotic, I think.

                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                          You would have gotten along well with Clarence. But rather than the sound of the Sox, he preferred the beastly roar of a sprint car engine. And he loved his cheap American beer, his cigarettes, his fried chicken gizzards, his homemade wine and his homemade tamales. Yep, ol' Clarence was quite a character. I miss him.

                                      2. re: fldhkybnva

                                        I love a slug of apple cider vinegar in a glass of ice water. Yum.

                                        1. re: tcamp

                                          Uh, make sure you go easy on that. Diluting it like that is fine but drinking it straight can cause some real damage.

                                          1. re: ferret

                                            I drank almost an entire jar of habanero dill pickle juice once, and let me tell ya', I felt plenty damaged the next day.

                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                I used to chug the leftover juice after inhaling a jar but due to my penchant for retaining water and becoming a water balloon I have to hold myself back.

                                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                  Pickle juice is dilute, but vinegar straight from the bottle will do some serious damage (but will give you plenty of time to reflect while you're in the ER).

                                                  1. re: ferret

                                                    It's not a chug and there are many articles online about a tbsp or so of vinegar a day. I'm not trying to chew away enamel or my stomach lining.

                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                      There's no issue with chugging pickle juice, it's far too dilute to cause damage. Undiluted vinegar is problematic. A teaspoon or two won't hurt you but "many articles" aside, there's no actual health benefit associated with consuming vinegar (your stomach contains hydrochloric acid, adding a spoonful of acetic acid to the mix produces no measurable benefit but consuming too much acetic acid can cause damage to your esophagus).

                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                        True, I'm aware, but thanks for the information.

                                              2. re: tcamp

                                                No water here I just go for it but I always swish afterwards.

                                          2. They must be eaten with barbecue.

                                            1. I just love them. I will go months without wanting any then will HAVE to have one. Dill always. Also a fan of filler pickle wrapped in ham and cream cheese.

                                              1. Dill slices, battered & deep fried ~ served with ranch dressing.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: miss_belle

                                                  I was skeptical, but these are amazingly delish.

                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                    Yes, they are amazingly delish. As an aside I tried them on the home front a couple of times but that was the end of that. Definite restaurant fare. For me anyways.

                                                2. I miss the little red spicy ones from Okinawa. And why, oh why, have sour pickles fallen off the culinary map? My former source quit making them, and the customer service girl was kind of snotty.

                                                  1. Rasputina is right about lacto-fermented pickles -- flavor is nicely different from storebought pickles, keep months in fridge, and easy and inexpensive to make at home (and you can start with a small batch). There is something so satisfying about making your own. (Lots of threads on how-tos, can direct you if interested.)

                                                    I agree with the others: a nice salty, tangy counterpoint to fatty cheeses or meats. And an essential part of the Cubano (nature's finest sandwich).

                                                    1. pickles are an essential flavor profile in many asian cuisines, too; japanese, korean, chinese and thai are the ones i'm most familiar with. they're sometimes served as-is, and sometimes cooked into dishes (ie, pickled radish in pad thai). pickles go great with rice, and also fish; when i feel ambitious and i'm making salmon, i'll always do a stovetop quick pickle with red onions to garnish with. yum!

                                                      have you tried things like kimchi and takuan? i hated pickles when all i knew were dill or bread/butter pickles, but when i tried other kinds of pickles, my opinion totally changed.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: chartreauxx

                                                        On the health side--- pickles help the digestion and fuller assimilation of carbohydrates. With a rice-centric diet this is more important in many Asian cuisines. I'll bet there are more unique pickles in Asia than in Europe. Bread was the staff of life in Europe but never dominated as much as rice did for Asians

                                                        The probiotics in pickles make them healthful.
                                                        Also the ability to cut through fatty greasy foods such as fried fish...I prefer some dill pickles it with instead of mayo-based tartar sauce

                                                      2. Pickling actually increases the bioavailability of certain nutrients which can make pickled vegetables more nutritious than their raw counterparts. Beyond that, it is a good method to preserve foods that would otherwise go to waste and frankly the fermentation process produces some mighty delicious flavors. Think of the difference between a preserved lemon versus a fresh lemon.

                                                        The acidity of pickles is the perfect thing to balance out rich flavors. I will sometimes have pickled eggplants (makdous) with whole milk yogurt and pita for breakfast on the go, so there is room for pickles in the morning. Giardiniera is just about perfect with any type of meat and melted cheese sandwich. What is a banh mi without pickled daikon? Between my homemade kimchi and dill-coriander cukes, I have 7 different types of pickles in the fridge or cupboard as we speak for all sorts of mealtime possibilities. And if you still doubt me, I have 4 words: fried pickles and ranch.

                                                        1. I'm waiting for the first Korean 'hound response (smile).

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: RedTop

                                                            Seriously, a Korean meal without kimchi is like a molecular gastronomy 24-course degustation without pretentiousness. What's the point?

                                                            1. re: RedTop

                                                              My partner is Korean and we eat kimchi for breakfast!

                                                              But it isn't a cuisine based on vinegar.

                                                            2. Buy a jar of these: http://www.sonyashappenings.com/2013/...

                                                              I find them in the Walmart refrigerated section.

                                                              Eat them on ritz or triscuits. Curse my name when you get addicted and go through a jar+box a week. (As my husband does.)

                                                              1. Man. I love me some sweet pickles. But "good" ones are hard to find. I prefer the larger whole gherkins. Not the midgets.
                                                                Honestly the best I've had were at Aldi. But they do not sell them all the time. Growng up..I loved Heinz pickles..but alas they do not sell them in my area. Eating the "mix' with pickled cauliflower was the only way I would eat them,
                                                                If anyone has a preferred sweet gherkin brand , please let me know. I also like dill pickles.just not as much. Sometimes at night.. a couple of cold sweet pickles is the only snack I need..satisfies sweet and crunchy.

                                                                1. For me, I pickle when I have a lot of extra veggies from my CSA. Beets, zucchini, cucumber/tomato/onion, okra, even mustard greens (Vietnamese). I have only done refrigerator pickles, but use different flavor profiles. By pickling I can preserve vegetables that I'm tired of grilling/roasting/eating and enjoy them for another month!

                                                                  I don't think I'd pickle as much as I do if it weren't for my CSA membership. But, being in the kitchen is enjoyable and relaxing to me. This is part of the reason I enjoy the challenge of my weekly-surprise delivery.

                                                                  1. After I place my order of pastrami and chopped liver on rye at a Jewish deli, I wait patiently and eat ....pickles.

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                                        Green tomatoes? Now that's a whole different story.

                                                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                                                            pickled okra are the best, and a great garnish for a bloody mary

                                                                        1. I like all types of pickled veggies.

                                                                          It's a great accompaniment to many different dishes.

                                                                          And a great way to save aging veggies in your fridge.

                                                                          1. I love pickles of most sorts. Top of the hit parade is a half sour accompanying a sandwich of pastrami on rye with hot mustard. Pretty much anything pickled rocks. I love kimchi, sauerkraut, cornichons, Del Dixie pickle chips on my hamburgers, etc. I usually snag a dill spear from the fridge when I come home from work. Currently there's a jar of Vlasic Farmer's Garden, but it is often Claussen's. I had a horrible experience with Ba Tempte so I avoid. I also avoid Mt. Olive. Of course living in Texas there are the ubiquitous jalapeño and those insanely hot carrots pickled with habaneros. Mmmm. Pickles...good with other stuff, good solo. I respect, however, different views. Are you going to eat that pickle?

                                                                            1. I love pickles in any shape or form, just not sweet pickles. I discovered the Pickle Man at my local farmer's market and the quart was not enough for even 4 days. I had to exercise restraint to make those pickles last. Usually if I open a jar of pickles it's a commitment to eating at least 1/2 the jar. I don't know what it is with me but I love all things vinegary.

                                                                              1. Has anyone ever had Mickle's Pickles? http://www.micklespickles.com/id36.htm
                                                                                Every time I see him at a festival I grab a jar of his pickles. The ones I've had all pack a nice amount of spice. I believe he changes up his flavors from time to time. They go great on grilled dogs.

                                                                                1. Thanks everybody, great info. I love sauerkraut, kimchee, daikon and ginger, but I never thought of them as pickles. I will try some of your suggestions.

                                                                                  1. They just taste good.

                                                                                    I don't know of a pickled vegetable that I don't like.

                                                                                    1. We have too many cucumbers to eat fresh, in our annual vegetable garden, so we make pickles.
                                                                                      We pickle banana peppers, green tomatoes, green beans...and I make a sweet pickle relish that is out of this world.
                                                                                      I never met a pickle, sweet or sour, that I didn't like. I'd love to know why some here don't like sweet pickles.

                                                                                      1. Fad? It's like how every five years the cover of Time Magazine proclaims "Jazz is Back."

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                          'Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny.' Frank Zappa.

                                                                                        2. This topic is far too broad for a general answer. Sorta like saying "Cheese--Why?" Are we talking Velvetta, a fine Stilton, Limburger, Swiss, Brie, American slices, or Roquefort? I preface by saying I absolutely love ANY pickled product...meat, vegetable, herring..you name it. I don't think you can throw the entire genre into one basket. My long standing favorite--Ba Tepmte half sours--cannot compare to a very nice bread and butter dill--apples and oranges here. A new pickle I went nuts over a year ago is Gedney's Balsamic Munchers. In my 55+ years the perfect match of sweet and sour, but sadly the store here in eastern Michigan only carried for about 8 months and I can not find them anywhere. Another great pickle is cauliflower, pickled with dill and a little curry powder (no sugar).

                                                                                          As I said, 'pickles' is as wide a topic as 'sports'. Many people consider chess and NASCAR 'sports' along with football and sychronised diving. I do not knock any one of them in the slightest-- just to each his own.

                                                                                          1. I eat French Cornichon, I make hot dill green beans, my potato salad would never be right without them, Bread and Butter pickles, my grandmother's recipe or Mrs. Fanning's in a pinch. I am going to put up cocktail cherries this afternoon using Wild Turkey American Honey Liqueur, When our tomatoes are ripe I will make tomato jam, yeah not pickles but good. Tiny green tomatoes are great pickled and give you a great burst of flavor when you bight into them. Mustard pickles as a condiment, pickled Cauliflower is always a treat. Thanksgiving would not be complete without pickled watermelon rind. You need to broaden your horizons when it comes to pickles. Not all are dill, there are a multitude of pickles out there. Indian Hot Lime pickle is great....okay, I could go on but I'll stop with the suggestion of pickled lemons from the middle east many a tagine would just not right without it.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Candy

                                                                                              Rock on with your baad self and the mention of watermelon rind pickles. Yay!

                                                                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                Nathalie Dupree's new book Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking has a recipe for fried watermelon rind. I may have to give it a try.

                                                                                            2. My favorite right now is Mt. Olive hamburger dills. I can't even describe how they elevate a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.
                                                                                              I also adore sweet gherkins and can't have a liverwurst sandwich without one.

                                                                                              1. A properly fermented vegetable -- including pickles -- is extremely healthy for your gut flora. Furthermore, fermenting vegetables breaks down the parts that are hard to digest while preserving the nutrients (see: cruciferous vegetables). A fermented vegetable is actually going to end up healthier than a plain raw one.

                                                                                                At this point, we just buy Bubbie's pickles because they're unpasteurized, so all the good stuff is still available. We like them with lunch. I had to learn to like them a bit -- generally, I only like German pickles as they're spiced differently, but these are pretty good. My husband just generally loves pickles, though, so he liked them right off the bat.

                                                                                                Our lunches are usually pretty simple -- meat, cheese, bread and butter, and fermented veggies of the week. Sometimes pickles, sometimes sauerkraut, sometimes kimchi.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: wapfcat

                                                                                                  I saw Gut Flora when they opened for Alice Cooper in Cleveland back in '76.

                                                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                    I saw Alice Cooper at the Valley Dale Ballroom in Columbus in about 1969. Cost a buck.

                                                                                                    Flora hadn't bloomed yet.

                                                                                                2. u r missing out on alot-
                                                                                                  there is nothing like pickled veg., etc.

                                                                                                  1. I LOVE pickles!

                                                                                                    I grew up eating my grandmother's pickles. she seemed to focus on the sweet pickles... bread and butter, gherkins, and my all-time favorite - pickled beets. She would put out a pickle tray before Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, and I would park my little tush right next to it and plow in. My mother had the same pickle tray tradition - mostly with grandma's pickles, and i remember rummaging in the fridge for the leftover pickles, olives and jellied cranberry sauce for a post holiday meal snack.

                                                                                                    I love big huge kosher dills, gotta have pickles on my burger, but I can't find a great pickled beet, really. I will eat gherkins and bread and butters (and olives) straight from the jar. I also use the sweet pickle juice in my potato salad dressing. I have had fried pickles several places that were really good.

                                                                                                    I don't like all pickles tho - there is a certain kind I dislike, I'm not sure what they're called, they are very sour.

                                                                                                    1. I don't like any pickled vegetable. It completely ruins the vegetable experience for me.

                                                                                                      I love carrots, mushrooms, beets, etc. Please do not ruin their taste by masking it. An exception would be a few thin slivers of pickled red onion with certain Mexican food.

                                                                                                      I will take the slices off a cheeseburger and eat them, prior to eating the burger (something about the pickle and mustard and mayo, ketchup thing going on) but I really find biting into a burger with a crunchy pickle inside somewhere, anywhere, to be most annoying. Ruins the burger with that taste and unwanted crunch.

                                                                                                      Pickled corn? eggs? oh no, please no. I've had kimchee, sauerkraut, pickled tomatoes. No thank you.

                                                                                                      Dills in Jewish Delis I love.

                                                                                                      1. Turkish pickled peppers (biber turşusu), besides being present in restaurants and holes-in-the-wall throughout Turkey, have also found a way on my plate courtesy of Kalustyan's in Manhattan.

                                                                                                        When I've been on Soi Arab jn Bangkok, I enjoy dipping the pickled carrots and other assorted vegetables into the spicy Thai condiment du jour.

                                                                                                        Most pickles are a welcome addition to my gullet. However, any sweet ones and any type of South Asian aachar are "allex non grata."


                                                                                                        1. I could not live without pickles, I love all of them, and anything pickled. Check out these guys in NYC


                                                                                                          Awesome stuff, their tomatoes, baby corn, and hot sour pickles are to die for. I like pickles so much, I even eat these:


                                                                                                          A great item for those of you who like to drink pickle juice. The jalapeno pops are the best!

                                                                                                          1. I adore pickles. Pickled anything - dill pickles, sour pickles, bread and butter pickles, pickled olives, pickled onions, pickled peppers, pickled beets, pickled herring *with* pickled onions and pickled cucumbers, pickled gluten, pickled plums, wasabi pickles, daikon pickles, sauerkraut, kimchee, pickled eggplant, pickled turnip (and I don't even like regular turnip much), Indian lime pickle, hot mango pickle....

                                                                                                            Basically, I've never met a pickle I didn't like.

                                                                                                            I have very strong food preferences for both sour and salty foods (I will eat lemon wedges dipped in salt as a snack), so picked foods are a double whammy, with the added benefit of a bit of crunch thrown in for many of them.

                                                                                                            1. Pickles don't need no reason: they're just delicious and crunchy. Or they can be - I've had some so-so dills recently. I'm a particular fan of Indian Lime Pickle. I also like crackers with cream cheese and home-pickled jalapenos (better than it sounds: the creamy, almost bland cheese contrasts nicely with the hot, crisp pepper).

                                                                                                              1. I am reminded of a poem I read in about 4th grade (a very long time ago):

                                                                                                                Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity

                                                                                                                During that summer
                                                                                                                When unicorns were still possible;
                                                                                                                When the purpose of knees
                                                                                                                Was to be skinned;

                                                                                                                etc.... wonderful long poem


                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                  Wow we read that around fourth grade too, and I still have the paperback book!