Crazy Facts

A Peck of Perfectly Plausible Pickle and Pickled Pepper Facts

  • Pickling is one of the oldest forms of food preservation, discovered at the dawn of civilization, thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia.
  • North Americans prefer pickles with warts. Europeans prefer wartless pickles. Refrigerated pickles account for about 20 percent of all pickle sales.
  • International Pickle Week is one of the country's longest running food promotions --it's been observed for more than 50 years. IPW actually runs for 10 days during the last two weeks of May.
  • According to the U.S. Supreme Court, pickles are technically a "fruit" of the vine (like tomatoes), but they are generally known as a vegetable.
  • Americans consume more than 2.5 billion pounds of pickles each year - that's 20 billion pickles! And since it takes almost 4 billion pickles to reach the moon, all the pickles we eat would reach the moon and back more than 2 times!
  • Pickle Packers International has its own official limerick and theme song - the Pickle Polka. The pickle got its name in the 1300s when English speaking people mispronounced William Beukelz' name - he was a Dutch fisherman known for pickling fish.
  • The phrase "in a pickle" was first introduced by Shakespeare in his play, The Tempest. The quotes read, "How cam'st thou in this pickle?" and "I have been in such a pickle´┐Ż"
  • On his voyage in 1492, Columbus not only discovered America, but gave peppers their name. In search of black pepper from the Orient, he assumed the spicy pods used to flavor foods in America were a form of black pepper and mistakenly called them "pimiento," or pepper. Actually, the plants are not related at all.
  • The "hot" sensation one experiences when eating pickled peppers is caused by Capsaicin. This powerful substance can be detected at one part in a trillion.
  • During WWII the U.S. Government tagged 40 percent of all pickle production for the ration kits of the armed forces.
  • When you eat hot peppers, the pain receptors on the tongue react and cause a physical reaction called "sweating." You start to salivate and perspire, your nose runs, your metabolism speeds up - this is all the body's reaction working to cool itself.
  • Good pickles have an audible crunch at 10 paces. This can be measured at "crunch-off" using the "scientific" device known as the Audible Crunch Meter. Pickles that can be heard at only one pace are known as denture dills.

Pickle and Pickled Pepper Fact Sheet

Consumption

  • American households purchase pickles every 53 days.
  • More than 67 percent of all households eat pickles.
  • Americans consume more than 9 pounds of pickles per person annually.

Varieties
There are hundreds of kinds of pickles to try. Among them are:

  • Dill - genuine, kosher, Polish, German style, overnight varieties, and more
  • Sweet - includes bread & butter, no-salt and sweet/hot varieties
  • Sour and Half-Sour
  • Pickled Peppers - jalapenos, pepperoncini, sweet and hot cherry peppers, banana peppers, etc.
  • Specialty Products - includes other types of pickled vegetables such as asparagus, beets, cauliflower, cocktail onions, green tomatoes, okra and sauerkraut to name a few
  • Pickles are usually available whole (including gherkins and midgets), or cut into halves, slices, spears, strips, chips, chunks, salad cubes, relish or sliced lengthwise for sandwiches.

Popularity

  • Dill pickles are the most popular type of pickle, followed by sweet.
  • The interest in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine has made pickled peppers the "hot" news in the pickled vegetable category.

Growing News

  • Approximately 100,000 to 125,000 acres are devoted to growing pickling cucumbers in the United States. They are grown in more than 30 states, with the biggest producers being California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, North and South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.
  • More than 15,000 acres are used to grow pickling peppers. While this may seem small in comparison, the acreage increases each year.
  • For pickling cucumbers, there is usually a spring and fall harvest depending on the geographic location. Peppers yield one crop per year.

Production Methods
Most cucumber pickles are made by one of three methods: refrigerated, processed or fresh pack:

  • Refrigerated - Fresh, clean cucumbers are put into jars, covered with a seasoned pickling liquid and immediately refrigerated. The entire fermentation process takes place under refrigeration. Once the cucumbers have absorbed the seasonings, the pickles are then shipped. These extra-crispy pickles are available in the refrigerated section of the supermarket and are marked with an expiration date, since their shelf life is shorter than processed or fresh pack pickles. They also must be refrigerated at home.
  • Fresh Pack - Fresh, clean cucumbers are placed directly into jars and covered with a pickling solution of vinegar and seasonings, depending on the variety of pickles being produced. The containers are vacuum-sealed, quickly heated to pasteurize and then cooled. Fresh-pack pickles are generally crispier and less acidic than processed pickles. They also retain some of the flavor and color of fresh cucumbers. Jars of fresh pack pickles will say "fresh pack" on the label.
  • Processed - Clean cucumbers are placed in a salt brine solution in large tanks where they undergo full fermentation over the course of one to three months. The salt is added gradually throughout the process so it permeates the cucumbers evenly. Pickles are then removed from the tanks, rinsed of excess salt and put into jars with different additional seasonings. Processed pickles have a sharper flavor and are usually dark green and somewhat translucent.

Usage

  • Pickles are used most often as a sandwich accompaniment.
  • They also are popular eaten as a snack right from the jar.
  • Pickles and pickled peppers also are a convenient and versatile recipe ingredient. They add fast flavor to salsas and sauces, sandwiches, soups, appetizers, main dishes and more.

Additional

  • Pickles are fat free and low in calories. An average-size dill contains only 15 calories and an ounce of pickled peppers provides only 7 calories.

Pickles - Past to Present

Few foods could be considered more a part of Americana -- we've been eating pickles since Christopher Columbus discovered America. Since then, the pickled cucumber has evolved into a favored snack and recipe ingredient that is available in more than 36 varieties.

Pickle history began sometime around 2030 B.C., when inhabitants of Northern India brought cucumber seeds to the Tigris Valley. Soon, cucumber vines were sprouting throughout Europe. Shortly thereafter, people learned to preserve the fruits of their labor by pickling them in a salty brine. By the 17th century, the crunchy pickled cucumber had made its debut in the New World. Early colonists grew so fond of them that in 1820, Nicholas Appert constructed the first pickle plant in America.

In fact, America was named for a pickle peddler -- Amerigo Vespucci. He was a ships chandler, outfitting vessels scheduled for long explorations with vitamin C-packed pickled vegetables -- particularly cucumbers -- to prevent scurvy among crew members.

Through the years, pickles enjoyed a flourishing reputation. From continent to continent, the world's most humorous vegetable made an in-dill-able impression on monarchs, presidents and even military men. Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, believed they contributed to health and beauty. Queen Elizabeth I developed a passion for pickles, as did Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Troops under Julius Caesar and Napoleon relished the thought of having crunchy pickles at meal time, and during World War II, the U.S. government earmarked 40 percent of pickle production for the Armed Forces.

Pickles also played a part in folk medicine. Many people believed that sour pickles helped balance the acid-alkaline content of the body and destroy bacteria in the digestive tract.

Many modern-day celebrities are reported to be passionate about pickles. Actor Bill Cosby, sexy Brooklyn-born actress Fran Drescher (The Nanny), ex-New York Mayor Ed Koch and Guardian Angel-founder Curtis Sliwa are just a few recognizable names that are rumored to be pickle connoisseurs. Late Night host Conan O'Brien has a giant plastic pool pickle in his office, and hip-swiveling rock 'n' roller Elvis Presley liked to eat fried pickles.

Now in their 4,000th year, pickles are big business. They grow in more than 30 states, with Michigan and North Carolina the prime purveyors of pickled produce. And because Americans are so passionate about pickles, pickle packers everywhere continue to work hard to produce pickle products to please even the pickiest palate.

 

Sauerkraut Fact Sheet

Product Description
Sauerkraut is made from the crisp center leaves of the finest quality cabbages which are shredded, salted and cured for several weeks in huge wooden or concrete vats.

Consumption
Americans annually consume 387 million pounds of sauerkraut, or about 1.5 pounds per person per year.

Nutrition

  • Sauerkraut is fat free.
  • It also is low in calories, with one cup of undrained sauerkraut having only 44 calories, and one cup of sauerkraut juice has only 22.
  • It provides almost one-third of the US RDA for vitamin C, plus other important nutrients including iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. One cup also provides approximately 8 grams of fiber.
  • Medical and health experts recommend eating several servings of cruciferous vegetables each week to reduce the risk of cancer of the colon.* Sauerkraut, like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and turnips, is a cruciferous vegetable.


Varieties

In addition to the traditional sauerkraut, other varieties also are available:

  • Bavarian Kraut - a milder flavor, sweetened with sugar and caraway seeds.
  • Sauerkraut with Caraway Seeds
  • Sauerkraut with Celery Seed
  • Winekraut - fermented in white wine.
  • Sauerkraut Salad - a mild, slightly sweet salad which includes onion, red peppers, vinegar and other seasonings. Can be used hot or cold.


Popularity

Sauerkraut continues to be the country's second favorite hot dog topping after mustard, and millions of pounds are used in Reuben and other deli sandwiches each year. As it becomes better known as a flavorful, low-calorie, no-fat food, it is being included in more innovative dishes around the country.

Growing News
Approximately 330 million pounds of cabbage are grown each year in the United States. The states that produce the most cabbages for sauerkraut are Wisconsin, Ohio and New York.

Packaging

Sauerkraut is available in cans, jars and polybags. The polybags are found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket and need to stay refrigerated.


*Diet, Nutrition and Cancer Prevention, a booklet by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

© 2014, Pickle Packers International, Inc.

Pickle Packers International, Inc. is a trade association for the pickled vegetable industry.