WHAT IS A GHERKIN?
Members of the gourd (a.k.a. cucumber) family, the gherkin is a small fruit that’s often used in pickling. With a warty, greenish appearance more suitable to a frog then a food, it’s thought this fruit was first pickled by workers building the Great Wall in China. Partial to warm climates, these plants are usually harvested while the fruit is still small, yielding the tiny pickles known today. Being vines that are “runners” they need a lot of space to grow and climb. They can grow to 8 feet in height! Today the name is synonymous with both the pickle and the raw fruit itself.
WHY ARE GHERKINS GOOD FOR YOU?
They’re a great source of antioxidants, vitamin A and vitamin E! Also pickles are naturally rich in probiotic bacterial which helps to promote good gastro-intestinal health.
WHEN ARE GHERKINS IN SEASON?
As a pickled food they’re available year-round! When grown from seed they’re planted after the last winter frost as they take longer then most crops.
HOW SHOULD GHERKINS BE STORED?
Before the jar is opened pickles can be stored in a dark cabinet at room temperature. However once opened refrigerate to be safe. Make sure though that the lid of the jar is tightly sealed to minimize air exchange. The brine still acts as a natural preservative but the pickles will gradually go bad. In general pickling fruit has a long growing season of over 2 months. But luckily picking young gherkins for their smaller size yields a quicker harvest.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GHERKIN AND A CUCUMBER?
Because of the vague meaning the name has adopted, “gherkin” has different definitions depending where you are in the world. In North America it refers to a baby cucumber that’s been pickled. However scientifically the plant that yields this fruit is different from that of the common cucumber.