Americans consume over nine pounds of pickles per year. That’s over 26-billion pickles. Earlier today, on our Facebook page, we mentioned bacon… again. Turns out bacon lovers typically love pickles too, so let’s talk about that.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court, pickles are technically a “fruit of the vine,” because they have seeds, but in a more general sense they are a vegetable since they are made from cucumbers. Now that this is settled, we must travel back in time in search of the origins of the simple, sweet and maddeningly irresistible pickle.
The history of pickles begins in antiquity; another proof that good recipes endure. The use of pickling as a means of preservation dates back at least 4,000 years and evidence is certain in ancient Egypt, Greece and Western Asia 3,000 years ago. The Romans imported a wide variety of foods during their conquests, many of which were pickled in vinegar and brine for the journey. Their pickling mixture also included honey.
There must be some ancient Latin or Greek text mentioning the experience of biting into a crisp and refreshing pickle; words echoed later in time by one of our very own lovers of the good life, President Thomas Jefferson, when he said (and he did say this): “On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout, like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.”
The health benefits of pickles are far from negligible: Raw, fermented, canned vegetables contain good bacteria; the sort that inhibits the growth of harmful microbes in the digestive tract. When eaten along with other foods, pickles help in the proper absorption of iron. Pickles also have a high concentration of vitamin C. In addition to this, research shows that vinegar may contribute to weight control. Aristotle himself praised the healing benefits of pickles back in 850 BC.
To be continued…