by Katie Zirker
Pickles. You either love them or you hate them. They go on burgers, are eaten plain, or can be deep fried. They are like cucumbers, but better. So why then, are they named in such a way? Perhaps to allow for many wordplay jokes. (What would happen if you got pickle juice in your ear? A case of pickled hearing.) Perhaps it is a form of slang since “pickled cucumbers” is many syllables.
The word pickle originates from the Dutch word pekel, referring to salt or brine. Even in older times, pickle referred to the ingredients necessary to pickle an item. Pickles were not necessarily always cucumbers. Culturally, pickled foods can be found in both German sauerkrauts as well as Korean kimchi. Nevertheless, neither of these foods are referred to as pickles.
To pickle something is to soak whatever food item in a brine or vinegar for a prolonged time. This can sometimes be a jarring process for the pickle. (Definitely called a pickle for the jokes) This can be done to preserve the food by increasing its shelf life or simply affecting its overall taste.
If pickling is the act of making a pickle, why would you call a pickle a pickle? This same logic is like calling a cake and a baked potato simply “bake.” Other food items can be pickled, such as tomatoes, carrots, or apples. However, these foods are called pickled tomatoes, pickled carrots, and pickled apples. Why then do pickled cucumbers get the title of pickles? Is this simply a form of slang since that is the most common food pickled in the American diet or is there some other reason?
A final thought on pickling, using pickle as many times as possible: To pickle something means to make a pickle through the pickling process so why then would you call a pickle a pickle if it is simply a pickled cucumber? Why does the pickle get to be called a pickle when there are many other pickled foods which could also be called pickles since they have also been pickled?