While it is possible to pickle many different vegetables, in the United States the term “pickles” usually means pickled cucumbers. Americans consume 20 billion pickles each year, as snacks, a side dish or a condiment. Fat free and low in calories, pickles come in a wide variety of sizes and flavors. An 1/8 cup counts as a serving of vegetables.
The name bread and butter for pickles has a Swedish origin. The Swedish dish known as smorgasbord consists of a spread of appetizers, featuring various types of bread and butter and this type of pickle. Since the smorgasbord features bread and butter, the name was also applied to these pickles. Dill pickles, predictably, are made with the herb dill, or sometimes dill oil, as one of the ingredients.
The term kosher generally refers to food certified as ritually fit for consumption by those observing Jewish dietary teachings. In the terminology of pickles, “kosher” refers to pickles made with garlic, in the style that was often found in traditional Jewish restaurants, particularly in New York. Many dill pickles brands are kosher in both senses of the word. Bread and butter pickles might be kosher, but not “kosher” in the garlic sense.
Bread and butter pickles taste sweet and mild with a slightly tangy flavor. Dill pickles have a much stronger sour taste, along with notes of their eponymous herb, and often, garlic.
The versatile taste of bread and butter pickles goes well with sandwiches and hamburgers. Stronger dill pickles typically come on the side of a dish, especially with stronger tasting meats such as pastrami or spiced sausage with mustard, common in traditional deli sandwiches.
The recipes for both bread and butter and dill pickles use vinegar, salt, mustard seed, onions and turmeric. Bread and butter pickles add sugar to give them their sweet taste, while dill pickles add dill weed, peppercorns, and, if they are kosher dill pickles, garlic to give them their familiar robust flavor.