What Is A Gherkin?

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Gherkins have garnered a reputation for being a bit like Marmite as people either love them or hate them. However, due to this reputation, a lot of people decide that they don’t like gherkins before they have even actually tried them and are quick to remove them from their dishes before giving them a chance. 

However, you may find that understanding what a gherkin is may encourage you to try one, and who knows, you may find that you actually enjoy eating them and will keep them in your burgers and other dishes. 

In this guide, we will be taking you through everything you need to know about gherkins from what they actually are to the various benefits that they have as well as other relevant information. This allows you to try gherkins with confidence that they may not be as bad as you think. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Gherkin?

Before we delve into the various benefits of gherkins and how you can make your own, it’s important to understand what a gherkin actually is.
This is because it is often used interchangeably with pickles, so understanding what a gherkin is will allow you to understand how you can incorporate it into your diet. 
The Oxford Dictionary defines gherkins as “the small green fruit of a plant related to the cucumber, used for pickling”.
To put it in simpler terms, a gherkin is a type of cucumber that has been picked in a solution such as brine and vinegar and is then fermented for a long period of time. The longer the gherkins are fermented, the stronger the flavor and taste will be. 
Gherkins are typically referred to as pickles and while they are a type of pickle, there are certain differences between the two that means they’re not entirely the same.
The main difference between them is that gherkins are crunchier and have a bumpier texture compared to pickles. 
In comparison to pickles, gherkins have a bumpier texture and are crunchier.

Are Gherkins A Type Of Cucumber?

Gherkins are technically a type of cucumber as defined by the Oxford Dictionary as stated above. However, gherkins are made by pickling a specific type of small cucumber that then turns into a gherkin.
This means that you can technically pickle a normal cucumber, but it may not turn out like a gherkin as you were expecting, although the taste and appearance should be similar. 

What Can Gherkins Be Used In?

When you are confident that the gherkins are ready to be consumed, you can include them in an array of dishes.
Whether you are making burgers or other grilled meat, gherkins complement a wide variety of dishes meaning that you can incorporate them into dishes such as hot dogs, breads, and sandwiches, or they can even be used as a separate side dish.

Benefits Of Eating Gherkins

Since gherkins are technically a fruit, it comes with an array of benefits that can prove incredibly beneficial to your diet. Although gherkins are commonly associated with fast foods such as McDonald’s burgers, they also make a great addition to a variety of healthier dishes.

Here are some major benefits that you should bear in mind:

  • Contain all sorts of minerals and vitamins that are crucial for your diet.
  • Low-fat content, making them great for those wanting to cut down on their fat intake.

The reason that gherkins have so many benefits is thanks to the pickling process as fermenting gherkins in vinegar especially helps to preserve these minerals and vitamins, meaning that you will have your intake even during the winter months. 

Fermenting with vinegar fills the gherkins with healthy bacteria that belong to the lactobacillus family of bacterium. These bacteria help to improve the condition of the gut and allow you to absorb minerals and vitamins easily. 

The fermentation process takes time, and it’s a general rule of thumb that the longer you allow the gherkins to ferment in the brine, the better the taste and texture will be.

You should wait a minimum of two hours before consuming your gherkins, but lots of people wait for a minimum of 24 hours before eating them. 

Making Gherkins

If you are interested in making your own gherkins, the great news is that you can. This is because the pickling process is easy to complete, provided that you have the right ingredients.

Here is a list of ingredients that you need to have before making your gherkins:

  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh dill
  • 3 cloves of garlic that are peeled and crushed
  • 180 ml of white vinegar
  • 240 ml of water
  • 450 g of Kirby or Persian cucumbers

Here are the instructions that you should follow to make your gherkins:

  1. Start by trimming the ends off your cucumbers and then slice the remaining cucumbers into spears before packing them into two glass jars that contain the dill and garlic. 
  2. Now make the brine by combining the salt, vinegar, and water in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil until the salt has fully dissolved into the mix. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow it to cool. When the saucepan is cool, pour the brine over the cucumbers and then seal the jar and shake it thoroughly until you are confident that it has been immersed in the brine. 
  3. Let the jar cool before putting it into the refrigerator. Leave the jars in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours, however, bear in mind that the longer you leave the gherkins, the better the taste will be.


In conclusion, gherkins are a wonderful food that has many health benefits to contribute to a healthy diet. They can be eaten on their own as a side dish or included in all sorts of dishes.

Although they are often associated with fast food such as burgers or hot dogs, they can be included in healthier dishes for those who want to ensure that they are leading a healthy lifestyle.

Whether you are planning to make your own gherkins or simply were unsure whether you wanted to try them, you now have an understanding of what they are and their many benefits. 

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