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5 Popular Pickles from Around the World

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Did you know that each country has its own version of the pickle?

In America, cucumbers, dill, and other spices are preserved in a saltwater and vinegar mixture to create pickles. However in other countries, pickles include an assortment of pickled vegetables, fruits, beans, and more Continue reading to learn more about each country’s version of the pickle and their cultural significance around the world!

01 | Kimchi (South Korea)

Kimchi is a popular Korean side dish made from fermented napa cabbage. It has rapidly gained popularity globally due to its various health benefits containing probiotics, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. You can spot the dish from its vibrant red and orange color, and also distinct seafood-like smell. Its unique characteristics come from the added gochujang, garlic, scallion, ginger, and fish sauce. But don’t worry! If the original kimchi isn’t for you, there are at least 14 different variations to try! Pair it with fried rice, dumplings, make it into a stew, or eat it plain!

02 | Atchar (Philippines)

Influenced by Indian pickles, atchar is an unripened green papaya mixed with shredded ginger, carrots, onion, and garlic. Historically, atchar served as a remedy for preserving surplus food during seasons when food production was insufficient. Today, it’s a side dish that is usually eaten with rice and paired with any fried or grilled food, such as pork barbeque. Added with vinegar, salt, and sugar, it creates a sweet and sour taste. Depending on the region, it could be spicy or other ingredients can be added like raisins or pineapple. Atchar has vitamin C and many health benefits such as weight loss and digestion. Hence, why it’s a popular dish that’s eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes, if there’s no green papaya lying around, they would use radish to replace it!

03 | Sauerkraut (Germany)

In Germany, sauerkraut is considered a national dish and Germans believe that consuming it ensures the next year will be filled with blessings! This salty, sour fermented dish originated in China and has been introduced around the world ever since. Sauerkraut is typically served as a condiment, side dish, or a nutritious snack. It’s also very easy to make at home with only two ingredients: cabbage and salt. The longer sauerkraut ferments, the stronger its tangy, bitter taste will be. Sauerkraut is commonly used as a topping on reuben sandwiches in America, but in Germany, it's often served with meat and potatoes. It’s also rich in fiber and probiotics, which help with digestion and improve your overall gut health!

04 | Natto (Japan)

In Japan, natto is a popular snack usually eaten around breakfast or lunchtime alongside rice or miso soup. Natto is made by taking soybeans and setting them in a slightly warm environment where they can ferment. The end product is a slightly slimy, sticky, and stringy harvest of brown soybeans that are ready to be eaten with your next meal! The taste of natto is very polarizing. Some people love the sour fermented taste, but others can't get over its slimy, sticky texture. Natto is a good source of protein and has multiple health benefits including its probiotic properties that aid in digestion and high levels of vitamins and minerals such as B2, B6, iron, and zinc. When it comes to pickled and fermented foods, natto doesn't have a big presence globally, but in Japan, it's near the top of most people's lists!

05 | Turşu Suyu (Turkey)

Turşu Suyu is a refreshing, nonalcoholic beverage made up of pickled vegetables of cucumbers, cabbage, and onions. The combination of these vegetables with vinegar and brine creates a refreshing yet salty and sour taste. Originating from Ottoman cuisine and the Roman Empire, Turşu Suyu has been around for thousands of years with huge popularity in the Middle East and Balkan countries. The beverage is widely popular due to the warm, refreshing, and energy boost that it provides especially during colder, winter days! Best paired with fish-based dishes, this beverage includes many health benefits such as improving muscle contractions, reducing dehydration, and regulating the body's immune system. Who knew pickle-inspired drinkers could do so much for the body!

While there are similarities between some countries’ versions of the pickle, differences reflect each country’s unique culture and diverse taste preferences. There are endless pickle possibilities around the world!

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