For some people, pickles are an unwanted intrusion on their taste buds. For others, pickles are a delicious and flavorful food they cannot go a single day without. But what are pickles?
Are pickles vegetables, and if they are, are they healthy?
Pickles are vegetables. A pickle is a cucumber that has been soaked in a saltwater or vinegar brine.
Depending on the amount of sodium or vinegar in the pickle, they can be healthy or a sodium-filled high blood pressure bomb. You can either buy pickles at the store or you can make your own pickles.
Pickles are delicious, and there is pickled food in every cuisine on the planet. You can make pickles yourself at home using the quick pickling process or the slow pickling process.
So many different pickles exist. Just go to your local supermarket and there will be at least a dozen varieties of pickles. Some pickles will be spicy and others will be sweet.
Other types of pickles will have a savory flavor or have a delicious garlic flavor.
Pickles have a unique flavor and when they are not part of a delicious angus burger or a big football stadium hot dog, they are sorely missed.
Pickles are usually found in fast food, and we all know that fast food isn’t good for us.
But are pickles good for us? And what is a pickle? Is it a vegetable?
Yes, pickles are a vegetable. Pickled cucumbers are one of the most popular pickled foods in North America and Europe.
Are Pickles Healthy?
Depending on how they’re made, pickles can either be a tasty treat reserved for once in a while or they can be an insoluble-fiber-packed necessity for everyday meals.
Some supermarket pickles are not healthy, and they definitely shouldn’t be regarded as a healthy side dish.
But other types of pickles, ones commonly found in health food stores, along with homemade pickles, are packed with vitamins, minerals, and healthy bacteria that you can’t get in any other foods.
What Makes a Pickle Either Healthy or Unhealthy?
The number one factor that can change the health status of a pickle is the amount of sodium in the pickle brine.
While human beings need sodium to maintain proper bodily functions, too much sodium is not good for you.
Too much sodium is linked with thicker blood, high blood pressure, kidney issues, bloating, stomach issues, and constipation.
If a person has a decade or more of consuming high sodium foods, they can develop heart disease and are at risk of a stroke.
Also, if there is too much sodium in the blood, the body will filter the sodium out of the blood.
The method in which the body filters sodium in the blood is by removing calcium from the bones and teeth.
The calcium binds to the sodium in the blood and makes it easier for the kidneys to filter out the excess sodium.
People who have consumed a diet that is high in sodium could develop osteoporosis after they hit 50 years old.
Along with an outrageous amount of salt, some pickles also are high in sugar.
Consuming pickles put you at risk of developing high blood pressure more than any type of sugar related issues.
But if you already have diabetes or pre-diabetes, opt for pickles that do not have any sugar.
Is There a Way to Reduce the Sodium in Store-Bought Pickles?
If there are no low sodium pickle products in your supermarket, then there are a few ways to reduce the amount of sodium in pickles.
First, you can remove the pickles slices from the salt and vinegar brine and place them in a bowl of water. Through osmosis, the salt in the pickles will leak out into the water. It will not completely drain the pickles of all of their sodium, but it will reduce it.
You can also leave the pickle in plain water overnight. You can place the bowl of water and pickles in the fridge. Make sure that there is twice as much water as there are pickles. One cup of pickle slices requires at least two cups of water in the bowl.
When placing the pickles in the bowl, first rinse the pickles. Then drain the pickle water and fill the bowl with fresh water.
If you do not have time to let the sodium leak into the water overnight, heavily rinsing the pickles can reduce the amount of sodium as well.
How Do Cucumbers Turn Into Pickles?
Cucumbers are a light and nearly flavorless food. Since cucumbers are almost 90% water, they’re excellent to snack on if you’re on a diet.
So how does a near flavorless cucumber become a strongly flavored pickle?
The process in which a cucumber turns into a pickle is pickling.
There are multiple ways to pickle a food, but most pickled foods require a few basic ingredients: water, salt, a vegetable, spices, a clean container, a dark area, and time.
Many pickling recipes also use vinegar in place of water and a bit of sugar.
There are two types of pickling processes: the slow/regular pickling process and the quick pickle process. The regular or slow pickle process takes at least one week to create pickled food.
The quick pickling process only takes about a few hours.
Quick Pickling Process With Vinegar
Quick pickling any vegetable is so easy. Here is what you need to do:
- Cut a cucumber into small slices. Then slice up some carrots, ginger, and red onions. Peel garlic cloves and leave them whole.
- Wash a few glass jars and hot water and soap. Then dry them with a clean towel.
- Place the sliced vegetables and spices and the whole cloves of garlic into the clean dry jar.
- Make a quick pickling solution by placing vinegar, salt, a pinch of sugar, and water into a small pot and bring it to a boil. The salt and sugar need to dissolve.
- Once the salt and sugar dissolve, pour the solution, or brine, over the cucumber and other vegetables. Fill the jar until there’s only half an inch of room left at the top.
- Tap the jar on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles.
- Seal the jar with a lid and allow it to sit until they reach room temperature.
- Then store the pickles in the refrigerator.
- All of this is a quick pickling recipe. It still takes about 24 hours for the solution to pickle the jar of vegetables. If you wait 48 hours, then the flavor will be stronger.
Regular Pickled Process With Saltwater
Pickling a jar of cucumbers and a few other spices and vegetables using the regular or slow method takes about a week. Here’s how you do it:
- Slice your cucumbers and other vegetables that you want to add to your final pickling recipe. You can use a variety of other ingredients like carrots, celery, garlic, chili flakes, onions, etc.
- Select the jars that you want to store the pickle recipe in and clean them with soap and hot water. Drive them thoroughly with a clean towel and then cover the clean jars and lids.
You don’t want any bacteria to invade the jar or the lid.
- Stuff the cucumbers into the clean jars and layer the other ingredients between the cucumbers.
- In a small pot, combine salt, sugar, water, and bring it to a boil.
- Once the brine boils, turn off the fire and pour the brine into the jars. Still the jars up to the top until there’s only half an inch of space left. Seal the jars with their lids.
- Leave the hot jars of cucumbers on a counter until they reach room temperature. Once they reach room temperature, take the jars and store them in a cool, dark space. You will need to leave them there for at least 5 days, but a week is better.
- Every day, remove the lid and burp the jar for a couple of seconds. Do not have any debris fall into the open jar.
- Check the smell of the pickling solution every day. The liquid should taste like pickles.
It should not taste as if it is rotted or moldy. If the solution smells rotten, then bacteria ruined the pickling solution.
Throw away the contents of the entire jar.
Conclusion to If Pickles Are a Vegetable
Pickles can be made with a salt and water solution or a salt and vinegar solution. If you have issues with sodium, like high blood pressure, then you should make your own pickles with a small amount of salt.
Pickles have a lot of sodium, and they may even have a lot of sugar as well.
There are two principal ways to make cucumbers at home, a quick pickling process that takes up to 48 hours and a slow pickling process that can take up to a week.