Cornichons from France. While they look like gherkins, cornichons are European pickles picked at two inches in length. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.




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May 2008
Last Updated August 2023


Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Condiments

Pickle Glossary

Types Of Pickles & Pickled Vegetables

Page 1: Pickle Terms Beginning With Letters A ~ C

If you like pickles, you’re in luck: They’re low in calories, have no fat, and have probiotic benefits. Cucumbers were probably first pickled 4,500 years ago in Mesopotamia and spread around the world across trade routes. Today, there are thousands of different types of pickles in the world’s cuisines, as appetizers, side dishes, garnishes and snacks. Asia consumes more pickles per capita than any other region. This glossary addresses the types of pickles you’re most likely to encounter in the U.S.

In the U.S., “pickles” refers to pickled cucumbers. Other pickled vegetables are referred to by vegetable or fruit: pickled carrots, pickled mango, etc. In the rest of the world, all pickled produce is referred to as “pickles”: If you want an American “pickle,” you’ve got to specify “pickled cucumber.”

After you’ve peeked at the pickles, take a look at our other food glossaries—an easy way to get up to speed on more than 100 different food categories.

Here’s the history of pickles.



Click on the letter to go to the appropriate glossary section:

a  b  c  d  e  f  g  h  i  j  k  l  m  n  o  p  q  r   s   t   u  v  w  x   y   z

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See refrigerated pickle.



See Mason jar.

Long, shiny, and yellow, pickled banana peppers are a popular garnish for burgers, crab cakes, pizzas, and salads. They are available in hot and mild varieties, whole and rings. See pickled peppers.


Pickles made in a classic large, wooden pickle barrel (or more modern container), fermented with vinegar, salt and water.

  Banana Peppers
Banana peppers. Here are 15 recipes that use banana peppers (photo © Food Lovin’ Family).

A type of sweet pickle with a sweet-and-tangy profile. Cut into thin slices (often with waffle-cut edges) for easy addition to sandwiches, burgers and potato salad, the cucumbers are pickled with onions and chopped bell peppers. They have a distinct, slightly tangy taste.

The pickling liquid. Originally, the brine was salt water; vinegar was subsequently added. (Polish-style pickles use salt water only, no vinegar.) The brine can be seasoned with any variety of herbs and spices. Pickle brine should never be thrown out. It can be used as a marinade, in salad dressing or cole slaw, to make dirty martinis, to re-pickle other vegetables, and can be frozen in popsicle forms to make an unusually delicious ice pop.


Bread and butter pickles, in a shape known as pickle chips. Photo courtesy Heinz.

See gherkin.

A type of sweet pickle that is packed in an extra-heavily sweetened (syrupy) liquid.

Canning jars were used in prior centuries to preserve all types of foods. The process and the jar create a hermetic seal that prevents the growth of bacteria. The process has been commercially supplanted by other production methods (including tin cans), but caning jars are still used in home canning. Ball and Mason are two well-known brands. Here’s the history of canning.

  Canning Jars
Bread and butter pickles, in a shape known as pickle chips. Photo courtesy Heinz.

Capers are the green, unripened, unopened edible flower buds of the caper bush, Capparis spinosa, also called the Flinders rose. The unopened flower buds of this shrub are preserved in salt or pickled in vinegar. Their pungent flavor enhances a large number of foods: compound butter, fish and seafood, hors d’oeuvres, meat, pasta, pizza, salads, sauces, and more. Chicken Piccata, Eggplant Caponata, Remoulade Sauce, Spaghetti Puttanesca, and Steak Tartare are just some of the well-known dishes that include capers.

Caperberries, much larger, crunchier, equally tangy, and stronger in flavor. They are packed with their stems, and are used as more of an ornamental garnish rather than stirred into recipes. Caperberries are the fruit of the caper bush. They form when the bud (i.e., the caper) is allowed to develop into a flower. That flower will subsequently fruit, and the caperberry is that fruit, an oblong, multi-seeded berry. 

The leaves are also pickled. They have a more mild flavor than either capers or caperberries, and are nicely ornamental.


Above, capers. Caperberries, whole and halved are in the photo below (photos © Sanniti).

Hot pickled peppers shaped like puffy cherries and are green or bright red in color. They make a popular, edible garnish and are a mainstay of antipasto platters. They add a bit of heat, chopped into casseroles and meatloaf. They are available in both hot and sweet versions, whole and in rings.

Bread and butter pickles, in a shape known as pickle chips. Photo courtesy Heinz.

Chow-chow (the hyphen is essential to distinguish it from the dog breed of the same name) is a mustard-pickle relish made from a combination of vegetables. Popular choices include asparagus, beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chayote, green tomato, onions, peas and red tomato. It is less sweet than piccalilli, and may also be spicy.


The French word for gherkin. These are not necessarily the West Indian gherkin, but European cucumbers harvested at one to two inches in length. Cornichons pickled in wine vinegar with garlic (and often, pearl onions) are traditionally served with pâté. See photo at top of page.


Chow-chow, a Southern specialty. Photo courtesy Here’s the recipe.


Pickles are available in the following cuts or styles: chips, chunks, gherkins, halves, lengthwise slices (for sandwiches), salad cubes, relish, spears, sticks and whole.



Continue To Page 2: Pickle Terms D ~ G

Go To The Article Index Above

Long pickle slices. Photo courtesy




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