Are Dill Pickles Sour?

Are you curious to know how dill pickles taste: whether sweet or sour?

This article dives into the complicated world of pickle flavors (with dill pickle as the main subject of course) and outlines how some of the most popular types of pickles taste like.

What do dill pickles taste like?

Dill pickles are typically sour because they are left In the brine solution for an extended period of time which results in a product that has a very strong piquant taste.

Dill pickles made with a brine solution (which consist of salt and water) is typically more sour (the longer it is left to cure) than those made using the fresh pack method which involves heating up water vinegar, sugar and salt in a sauce pan and adding the resulting mixture into vegetables contained in a jar, then allowing to cure.

Why does fermentation cause vegetables to become sour?

In the fermentation method, you have bacteria that are consuming the sugars in the vegetables and giving off several by products, for instance, lactic acid, alcohol and carbon dioxide (which can be seen as the bubbles that surround the vegetables or those that rise to the surface of the mixture).

The lactic acid is what increases the acidity of the medium, aids in the suffocation and destruction of harmful bacteria, preservation of vegetable for long period of time and most importantly, production of the tangy flavor in the vegetables.

As one would expect also, the longer the mixture is allowed to sit, which gives lactic acid bacteria a wealth of time to work its magic of breaking down the sugar contained in the vegetables, the more lactic acid is produced and the more sour the pickles become.

Is there benefit for fermenting longer?

Many studies have linked the lactic acid bacteria present in the brine solution to good health effects when consumed.

One study showed how microorganism associated with fermentation synthesized many beneficial vitamins and minerals during fermentation, and also eliminated elements in the brine and pickles that didn’t contain nutrients.

Another study showed how the biologically active peptides produced by these microorganisms can lead to a reduced blood pressure, have antimicrobial effect as well as anti-carcinogenic and anti-oxidant effect.

Given that the more fermentation is allowed to continue, the more good bacteria thrive and reproduce (at the expense of harmful bacteria) and the more the quantity of lactic acid produced.

It can easily be seen how greater health effects can be associated with longer fermentation as opposed to shorter ones.

What are the other types of pickles and how do they taste?

Dill pickles aren’t the only type of pickles in the pickling world. There are many varieties of pickles produced each with their distinctive way of preparation and taste.

Let us explore some of the most popular types of pickles and how they taste.

Bread and butter pickles

The bread and butter pickle is one of the funniest pickle nomenclature out there.

It is believed that the bread and butter pickles got its name from the fact that the pickle was bartered for “bread and butter” at the time due to how successful it was.

Anyways, the bread and butter pickle is made in two distinct steps.

The first step involves soaking the vegetables for several hours or overnight in a solution consisting of salt and water so that it begin to ferment.

Thereafter, the brine is discarded and a new one (where the vegetables would permanently reside) is made by combining sugar, vinegar and water in a sauce pan and cooking for some minutes before poured over the vegetables contained in the jar.

The jar is then left to sit is a cool dark place for weeks in order to really absorb the brine and develop flavor.

Because of the presence of sugar in the pickle, it has a distinctively sweet taste compared to other types of pickles.

Dill kosher pickles

Dill kosher pickles, just like the normal dill pickles taste sour.

How sour they taste however, depends on how long the pickle was left to cure.

As a result, two categories of dill kosher pickles can be identified; the half sour pickles and the full sour pickles.

The former are those left to sit only for the duration of time required to create a product that is just sour, which is around 2 to 3 weeks, whereas the latter products are left to cure for much longer resulting in a product that is excessively sour.

Half sour pickles, due to the shorter curing time given to them, have brighter colors and firmer texture compared to full sour pickles.


Gherkins is a type of cucumber that falls under the class of “pickling cucumbers”.

These cucumbers are dwarfed, have bumpy skin and are typically wide around the width — which makes them perfect for use in pickling.

The name gherkins pickle simply comes from the fact that the cucumber used for the pickling is of the gherkin variety.

Sometimes, the pickles are sweet due to the addition of sugar in their brine, and other times, they can be sour due to the absence of sugar.


Like gherkins, cornichons is a type of pickling cucumber, so any pickle made from this variety of cucumber is referred to as the cornichons pickle.

Cornichons pickle can be made sour if fermented using brine and allowed to sit for long, or, fermented and allow to sit for a shorter duration.

They can also be made sweeter and flavorful by the addition of sugar, herbs and spices into the brine mixture.

Polish and German pickles

The Polish and German pickles are pickles that are made in the respective areas mentioned.

These are similar to the Kosher dill and dill pickle in taste, which means they are sour, and the only difference between the is in the way they are seasoned. 

Other versions of polish pickles can be made sweet by adding a sweetener into the brine solution.

Hungarian pickles

Hungarian pickles are made in Hungary and they taste sour because they are fermented.

These pickles employ a rather unusual method of fermentation where a slices of bread is placed at the top of the pickling solution and another at the bottom and allowed to sit in the sun for a few days.

The purpose of putting the bread on top and below is to kick start the process of fermentation.

Lime pickles

Remember pickles require an acid to be able to preserve for long and also have their taste affected?

Instead of using vinegar, or relying on salt and bacteria to produce lactic acid, you can actually soak them in pickling lime which would result in a pickle called the “lime pickle”.

The pickles are typically soaked for 24 hours to have their texture turned crisper.

Thereafter, the lime is rinsed off completely and the pickle is then submerged in the typical solution of brine or vinegar to continue curing.

Pickles made with pickling lime are much more crispier and have a better texture then other pickles like the dill or dill kosher.

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