The Key Ingredient Omission That Makes Sour Pickles Unique

When it comes to pickles, Americans aren't shy about snacking on these fermented cucumbers. Per the United States Department of Agriculture, the average American eats 9 pounds of these babies each year. shares that pickles have been a part of the human diet since the days of Cleopatra and were brought over to America by none other than Christopher Columbus. Columbus was apparently a fan of this staple because it helped his crew stave off the dreaded scurvy. Pickles have come a long way since the days of the Explorer; They are mass-produced and consumed by the millions.

As PBS explains, pickling, which involves soaking fresh produce in either vinegar or salt brine over an extended period of time, is a great way of expanding the shelf life of veggies we know and love, especially the beloved cucumber. But not all pickles are alike. 

According to Fruit Stand, there are many different types of pickles, each with a unique taste. From sweet and sour tasting bread and butter pickles to baby pickles known as gherkins to Hungarian pickles that use bread in the pickling process, there's plenty of varieties to choose from. AllRecipes notes that the two types most frequently consumed are classic dill pickles and sour pickles. What makes a sour pickle sour? Surprisingly, it is the absence of one key ingredient.

Dill is the differentiator

According to AllRecipes, the differentiator between a sour pickle and a dill pickle is one key ingredient: dill. They explain dill pickles actually get their name because they contain this fresh herb. And while dill pickles can be fermented in either vinegar or salt brines, a dill pickle most likely uses an acidic brine if you find it on a supermarket shelf.

However, when it comes to sour pickles, these cukes are fermented in a vinegar-free solution and stored in the fridge. AllRecipes explains they do not use dill and the texture of this pickle is super crunchy while the taste is tart and pungent. If you like sour pickles, but want to control just how sour they are, Greatist says there is another variety of sour pickles called half sours. These pickles are only fermented for six to eight weeks. Fruit Stand notes that the longer a cucumber is fermented, the sourer it becomes, which is why half-sours may taste and look more like a cucumber than those that have been fully fermented.