Is a Pickle a Fruit?

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Is a pickle a fruit? Or is a pickle a vegetable? What’s the best recipe for making pickles and how do we best store them? We’ll answer these questions and more in this post. And we’ve also included a bonus of 5 other food facts that may surprise you and your kids.

pickles in a jar

Is A Pickle A Fruit? – The Complete Guide

Following is our complete guide of the classification of pickles. Follow along to learn more about Is a Pickle a Fruit?.

Is a Pickle Considered a Vegetable?

When we grow vegetables in our garden or buy them at the grocery store, we likely refer to a pickle as a vegetable. After all, what are pickles made from? If you don’t know, you’re soon to find out. But is a pickle REALLY a vegetable, according to scientific classification and botany?

Fruit vs. Vegetable

There are differences in how some might classify fruits and vegetables. In the following paragraphs we’ll take a look a solid definition to help us move forward in defining whether a pickle is a fruit. These definitions can also be applied to other fruits, vegetables, and berries in helping to classify them on a daily basis. But the big question Is a Pickle a Fruit?

Botanists vs. Common Usage

The significant difference in definitions lies between the common usage versus how a botanist would classify them. Fundamentally, generalities might say that anything that’s sweet is considered a fruit and anything that is not, is considered a vegetable.

Or anything that can be consumed raw is a fruit, and anything that must be cooked is a vegetable. But we can do better than that. Let’s take a look at some definitions.


What is a Fruit?

Generally speaking, a fruit is defined as a generally sweet, fleshy product that grows on a bush, tree, or other plant and can be eaten raw.

Scientifically speaking, a fruit is the structure that includes seeds, it grows on a plant from the ovary after the plant flowers. Fruits are how flowering plants distribute their seeds.

Cucumber growing from a plant after the flower has formed.
Cucumber growing from a plant after the flower has formed.

What is a Vegetable?

Generally speaking, a vegetable is the edible portion of a plant eaten as food by humans or animals. It can include leaves, stems, bulbs, flowers, tubers, and roots.

Scientifically speaking, a vegetable is a part of an herbaceous plant that is edible. An herbaceous plant is a non-woody plant as contrasted with a woody plant such as bush or a tree.

What is a Berry?

Generally speaking, a berry is typically small, round in shape, may contain many seeds, is edible and juicy. A berry can be sweet, sour, or tart.

Scientifically speaking, a berry can be defined as a fleshy fruit that usually has many seeds. The berry grows from a single ovary of a single flower. Typically, the inside walls of berries are not distinct from one another.  

Is a Cucumber a Fruit or a Vegetable?

Using our definitions above, a cucumber can be classified as a fruit. This is true from a scientific perspective because the cucumber forms on a plant where the flower was, and it has seeds inside the cucumber itself which is where the plant distributes its seeds. And, Is a Pickle a Fruit?

Is a Cucumber a Berry?

What is the difference? Again, using our definition above, a cucumber can be scientifically classified as a berry. The cucumber forms from a flower, contains a single ovary, as well as seeds.

Furthermore, a cucumber is defined as a pepos, which is a sub category of berry. It is a fleshy berry with many seeds and a hard, thick rind.

How are Pickles Made?

Pickles can be made in a variety of ways. Just go to any good-sized grocery store and you will see several varieties of pickles.

Pickles are canned from whole cucumbers, sliced cucumbers, mini cucumbers, huge cucumbers, and chopped cucumbers and come in several shapes and sizes.

Pickles are made from cucumbers that have been soaked in a brine made from vinegar, water, salt, and a mixture of seasonings. Dill pickles, for example, consist of dill for seasoning. The cucumbers are left to set in the brine for a length of time, which then alters the flavor of the cucumber and becomes the pickle juice.

Other pickle flavors of pickle seasonings might include garlic, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, or cloves, to name a few.

We remember when we were kids, we used to have a large garden. We would help our mom make pickles each summer from the cucumbers and dill that we grew ourselves. The pickles were delicious and helped us become addicted to dill pickles.

pickles close up

Is a Pickle a Cucumber?

A pickle is made from a cucumber. So, in some respects you could say that a pickle is a cucumber. There are also some varieties of cucumbers that are referred to as a pickling cucumber. They are ones that are thought to work best for the pickling process. They are smaller, more compact and maintain crispy aspects.

Cucumber Are Fruits — Not Vegetables — And This Changes Everything

According to these definitions, scientifically speaking cucumbers are fruits, not vegetables, and this changes everything. Well, not literally everything.

Related Questions:

Following are some related questions that you might find helpful when it comes to pickles.

Do Pickles Count as a Vegetable Serving?

If you were to consider a plain cucumber as a vegetable serving then that would be fine. However, pickles have too much salt to be considered a vegetable serving. Pickles are great condiments on our burgers or accessories to other foods, but they don’t count as a vegetable serving.

Burning Question: Is the pickle a vegetable or merely a condiment?

From a health aspect, the answer to your burning question would be that a pickle is merely a condiment. It has too much salt to count as a healthy vegetable serving. It still has aspects that are good for you such as fiber and vitamins, but it is better known as a condiment.

Are Pickles Vegan?

Yes, pickles are vegan because all the ingredients used to make the pickles including the cucumbers, brine, and seasonings are sourced from plant-based ingredients rather than animal-based items. If you’re on a vegan diet, pickles would qualify for your diet.

Gherkin Vs. Pickle?

You might be wondering what the difference is between a gherkin and a pickle. So which is it? In North America a pickle generally refers to a cucumber that has been pickled or soaked in brine and seasoning.

On the other hand, a gherkin refers to a specific variety of cucumber that has been pickled. A gherkin is usually a smaller, younger pickle that is more bumpy and crispier than a regular cucumber.

What is a Pickle?

Culturally in North America a pickle refers to a pickled cucumber or a cucumber that has been soaked in pickling brine. But pickle can also mean any kind of vegetable that has been pickled by being soaked in pickling brine. What category does a pickle belong in?

pickled vegetables in a jar

The Transformative Potential of Pickling

Pickling is not just limited to cucumbers. There are a whole variety of fruits and vegetables that can be pickled for flavor enhancement as well as for storage preservation. Here are some ideas.

cucumbers
asparagus
beets
peppers
carrots
green beans
parsnips
tomatoes
onions
garlic
fennel
mushrooms
squash
turnips
corn
blueberries
strawberries
grapes
peaches
watermelon
cherries

History of Pickles

Pickles were thought to be brought to the United States by Christopher Columbus. Pickles were ideal because they can be stored for long lengths of time at room temperature. The pickle brine and salt content help to preserve them for storage purposes.

The Humble Pickle

Pickles are so widely enjoyed by Americans. It is a favorite food and condiment. Did you know that on average approximately 8.5 pounds of pickles are consumed by the Average American per year? That’s a lot of pickles.

Nix vs. Hedden

Nix vs. Hedden was a 1893 Supreme Court case that ruled that a tomato should be classified as a vegetable rather than a fruit. If you’re wondering what was involved in this case, it was important because President Arthur at the time required tax to be paid on imported vegetables, but not fruit. Mr. Nix’s company became one of the largest produce sellers during this time. The Supreme Court’s ruling made it so Mr. Nix’s company no longer had to pay taxes on imports.

pickles on a plate

Culinary and Nutritional Value

Following is the nutritional value of pickles. Please note that this estimate is based on a single serving and varies based on the brand of pickles used.

Calories 2
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 262mg
Total Carbohydrates 0.5g
Dietary Fiber 0.3g
Total Sugar 0.2g
Protein 0.1g

What are Pickles Made From?

To make a classic dill pickle, you’ll need the following ingredients. It’s what classic pickles are made from.

pickling cucumbers
1 ½ cups white vinegar
2 cups water
4 tsp dill seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

If you’re never made them before and you’re wanting to know how to make pickles, add the pickles and spices to each sanitized jar. Then make the water, vinegar, salt and sugar brine. Boil the brine and add it to the jars and then seal them using a hot water bath or whatever your favorite method is.

Why do Plants Fruit?

Plants are designed to bear fruit as a means of spreading their seeds and multiplying. It’s the way God designed them. The fruit around the seeds entices animals such as birds, squirrels, raccoons, and deer to eat the fruit and the seeds pass through them unharmed which causes them to be dispersed and potentially grow in another location.

What is the culinary definition of fruits and vegetables?

The culinary definition of a fruit is any sweet tasting produce. A sour tasting produce item is often considered a fruit too.

The culinary definition of a vegetable is any edible portion of an herbaceous plant.  

So now we know about cucumbers, but what about pickles?

We’ve classified cucumbers as a fruit or even a berry specifically, but what about pickles? It seems logical that since cucumbers are unaltered in their form and how they’re produced from the process of going from cucumber to pickle, they remain a fruit in the pickle state as well. Adding a brine to them does not change their state of fruit vs. vegetable.

What is the pickling process?

The pickling process includes adding cucumbers to a brine or vinegar mixture and allowing them to soak to alter the flavor and for preservation purposes. It allows the shelf life of the cucumbers to be extended.

What is anaerobic fermentation?

Anaerobic fermentation is fermentation that doesn’t utilize oxygen in the process. In the case of making pickles, the vinegar or brine causes the fermentation. The cucumbers are pushed under the liquid and anything under the liquid is deprived of oxygen.

Pickles Are Really Cucumbers and 5 Other Food Facts That May Surprise Your Kids (and maybe you!)

Indeed, pickles are cucumbers. Pickles are cucumbers that have been preserved with a vinegar mixture or brine mixture. Now that we’ve solved that, let’s take a look at some interesting facts along the same lines that might surprise you and your kids.

Is a Carrot a Fruit?

According to our scientific definition that we outlined above, a carrot is considered a vegetable because it is the edible portion of a herbaceous plant. A carrot is not classified as a fruit.

Is Corn a Fruit?

Yes, according to the scientific definition, corn is considered a fruit, though it’s typically eaten and generally thought of as a vegetable, as are peppers, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes.

Is a Strawberry a Berry?

No, a strawberry does not fit the definition of a berry and is not really a berry at all. I hope you don’t feel like we just pulled the rug out from under you, but the fact of the matter is that strawberries are scientifically classified as a fruit because their seeds are not inside a fleshy skin, but rather are located on the outside.

Do Pickles Count as 5 a Day?

Pickles shouldn’t really count as part of your serving of 5 a day of vegetables or fruits. While they might be considered a vegetable or fruit for the reasons mentioned above, but they have quite a bit of salt or vinegar, depending on the brand or the recipe used for them to be fitting to count as a 5 a day.

Is an Onion One of Your Five a Day?

If you’re focusing on getting in five fruits or vegetables in your diet in a day, you’ll be happy to know that an onion can count toward your goal. They are great because they help to form the base in many seasonings and dishes and are a favorite for us.

Is a Zucchini a Fruit?

Yes, like the cucumber a zucchini is a fruit, contrary to general cultural definitions. A zucchini grows on flowering part of the plant, which is what defines a fruit. I remember stepping into our summertime garden as kids and admiring zucchini plants full of blossoms in the warm sun and watching the zucchini form on the blossom.

Is Watermelon a Fruit?

Yes, a watermelon is a fruit because it forms from the flower on the watermelon vine.

Is a Jalapeno a Berry?

Yes, a jalapeno is scientifically classified, according to botany as a fruit, because it has several seeds inside a fleshy fruit.

Is Jalapeno a Fruit?

A jalapeno fits the definition of fruit as the fleshy pepper grows from the flower on the plant.

Is popcorn 1 of your 5 a day?

Popcorn should not be considered a replacement for one of your vegetable servings or fruit servings in the day. While popcorn has some nutritional value if cooked properly, it does not have the vitamins and minerals that would be founds in fruits and vegetables.

What is your five a day?

Now that we’ve taken a look at various qualifications to meet the expectations for a five a day, let us know what your favorite five a day is. Do you tend to like more fruits or vegetables?

cucumbers on the table

Name a Better Time to Make (Quick!) Pickles at Home

Quick pickles are exactly what the name alludes to they are pickles that can be made quickly. Quick pickles that are made at home and are more or less known as refrigerator pickles.  Here’s more information to assist you with making them.

Sorry, What is a Quick Pickle?

You’ve never heard of the term quick pickle before? If that’s the case, that’s okay. We’ll describe how to make them in the following paragraphs.

So, what’s the process for making quick pickles?

We’ve boiled down the process for making quick pickles with just 4 basic steps. Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Wash the jars

You’ll want to wash any jars that need it thoroughly with soap and water. Or better yet, place them in the dishwasher to make sure they’re well sanitized.

Step 2: Prep the veg

The second step is to prepare the vegetables. We’ll assume we’re using cucumbers in this case. We would trim off any of the stems on the vine end of the cucumber and wash the cucumbers well. If you want sliced pickles, this is the time to slice them. If you prefer them whole, just leave them whole.

Step 3: Make the brine

To make the brine or vinegar mixture, be sure to select and follow a good recipe. Add the brine to the cucumbers that have been placed in the jars.

Step 4: Chill your pickles

Pickles should be placed in the refrigerator to cool overnight or as long as desired.

Wait, you said I can use any vegetable. Which are the best for pickling?

There are a variety of fruits and vegetables that are best for pickling. Here are some ideas.

parsnips
tomatoes
onions
garlic
fennel
mushrooms
squash
turnips
corn
cucumbers
asparagus
beets
peppers
carrots
green beans

How should I flavor my pickles?

The key to flavoring your pickles is to find a good recipe that sounds delicious and follow it. For example, our favorite recipe for pickles is a classic recipe that includes dill, and garlic as seasonings. See our recipe above.

Even though we prefer more of the savory flavor that comes with dill pickles, you can also create a sweeter version that includes cinnamon, sugar, ginger and other flavorful aspects if you desire.

What vinegars are the best to use?

We use distilled white vinegar when making pickles. It’s something that we tend to keep around the house and it’s not expensive to buy. But you might also choose to use apple cider vinegar, white wine, or rice vinegar. They’re all fair game.

How long will my pickles last?

How long your pickles will last depends on how your pickles are canned and stored. If you’re just making quick refrigerator pickles in a bowl in the fridge, they’ll likely last about 3 days. But if you’re doing a canning production and sealing your pickles with a water bath or pressure canner, you can keep them longer.

Unopened canned pickles can be stored at room temperature in a pantry for 2 years. If you buy them from the store they can be stored the same and can last at best quality for about 2 years. But as always if they smell strange or have a strange color, by all means throw them out.

After your pickles are opened, they should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container and can last for about the same amount of time, roughly two years.

What Pickles Can Do for Your Health

There are many health benefits that can be obtained from eating pickles. If you like pickles, then you’re going to love these facts.

Nutritional Profile

The nutritional value and profile of pickles varies depending on their type as well as the brand. For example, according to my pickle jar, a whole pickle can give you:

Calcium 15 mg
Potassium 25 mg
Vitamin K
Vitamin A
Vitamin C

cucumbers

Fermented Pickles

Fermented pickles can be a great assistance in gut health, but they’re not found on average grocery store shelves. Instead, look for pickles that are labeled “naturally fermented” and show signs of live bacteria by having bubbles on the surface. If you look at health food stores these are usually the best bet in finding naturally fermented pickles.

Health Benefits

There are many health benefits that come with eating pickles. They are high in antioxidants, probiotics, help with electrolyte balancing.

Antioxidants. Pickles have beta-carotene antioxidants that help strengthen an immune system from sickness and diseases.

Probiotics. Probiotics are what assist with good gut health. Naturally fermented pickles consist of micro-organisms that help restore the gut and overall body health.

Electrolytes. Because pickles are high in sodium and contain some potassium, they can be effective in helping to naturally balance electrolytes.

What to Watch For

Along with the benefits, there are also potential drawbacks for eating pickles if they’re not consumed in moderation or if they’re consumed by an individual who already struggles with health problems that could be worsened by the consumption of pickled cucumbers.

If you struggle with high blood pressure, you’ll want to be careful of eating too many pickles because they have a hefty sodium content. The same is true with those who are prone to liver and kidney stress, osteoporosis, or gastric cancer. The high sodium levels found in cucumber pickles might put you at higher risk.

For example, on the back of my pickle jar it says that the serving size is one pickle. And from that one pickle you will consume 7% of your daily value of sodium.

How to Pickle at Home

To make cucumber pickles at home, you’ll want to use good, firm cucumbers that are fresh. Young cucumbers that are smaller in size and are crisp tend to work best.

Pickle Basics

In order to make pickles, you’ll want to gather your ingredients and equipment and decide how you’ll want to seal the jars if you’re going for length of storage, for example you can use a water bath or a pressure cooker as a couple of options.

If you’re simply making quick pickles like we’ve mentioned above, then you don’t necessarily need to worry about sealing anything off and processing it for length of storage. They’re simply intended to be eaten in the short term and stored in the refrigerator.

Types of Pickled Products

There are a variety of fruits, vegetables, and even meats that can be pickled for length of storage and enhances flavor. It’s not just cucumbers.

If you grow a garden, in essence the sky’s the limit in deciding which products to pickle. Or finding items at the local farmer’s market or roadside stand to be pickled can be fun and enhances the length of storage at the same time.

On Guard Against Spoilage

Being on guard against spoilage can be necessary when canning and dealing with pickled fruits and vegetables. If your item turns discolored, the texture changes, the flavor is altered, or smell seems strange, throw it out. It’s never worth risking your health against spoilage.

Common Pickle Problems

Common pickle problems can include your item not sealing appropriately. This is probably the number one problem. If the item doesn’t seal, you should try again to seal it with your preferred method. If it still doesn’t seal, it should be placed in the refrigerator and eaten in a few days or throw it out.

Deterioration of fermented and pickled products

Placing fermented and pickled food products in cool storage such as the refrigerator can help them to remain stable for several months. It helps to keep them from becoming moldy and growing microorganisms.

Storage

The great thing about pickles is that by soaking them in a brine mixture, or mixture of salt, vinegar, and seasonings it preserves them for storage. Once they’re sealed in a jar or sealed through your home canning process, they can be kept at room temperature for a length of time.

I can still remember the visual aspects of our lower-level pantry shelves lined with jars of pickles that our mom canned each summer, from our garden, when we were kids. A beautifully delicious sight to behold.

After the jar of pickles has been opened, or the seal has been broken, your pickles should be stored in the refrigerator until they’re consumed.  

Conclusion – Is a Pickle a Fruit? Final Thoughts

Scientifically speaking, a pickle is a fruit according to its growth and classification. Did you know that the answer to your question, “Is a Pickle a Fruit?” would be yes?

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