Gherkin vs Cucumber: Is There a Difference?

© iStock.com/EugeneTomeev

Written by August Croft

Published: August 8, 2022

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Knowing the difference between a gherkin vs cucumber may not be something that everyone is interested in, but there are some unique and fascinating facts about both of these plants. But are they related to one another, and in what ways are they similar? Are they used in the same fashion, and are all cucumbers technically gherkins as well? 

In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about both gherkins and cucumbers so that you can get a full understanding of them. We will address whether or not gherkins and cucumbers are related, as well as what they taste like. Finally, we will go over what these unique plants are used for in a culinary capacity, and what you can expect out of their nutritional value. Let’s get started now! 

Comparing Gherkin vs Cucumber

Gherkin vs Cucumber
All gherkins are technically cucumbers, but not all cucumbers are gherkins.
GherkinCucumber
ClassificationCucumis sativusCucumis sativus
DescriptionA specific variety of cucumber that never grows larger than 6 inches. Bumpy and crunchy in texture, with a thick skin and distinct snap. Only comes in shades of green, and is commonly called a gherkin when it is pickled. Flavor is tart, though there are sweet varieties availableComprised of three varieties, depending on intended use; grows as an elongated, cylindrical vining plant. Found in shades of green and yellow, often with lines or stripes on the outside, and small bumps on the skin. Inside is white or cream colored, with similarly colored seeds. Tastes incredibly mild, but slightly of melon and bitterness found in the rind
UsesAlways pickled and served raw alongside snack plates and salads. Extremely popular with pate dishes and other French cuisine; can be pickled with herbs for additional flavor, including tarragon, garlic, and dill.Popular for its refreshing and neutral flavor; hardly ever cooked and only consumed raw. The three varieties (slicing, pickling, and burpless) serve different culinary purposes: one variety is great for making pickles, one is ideal for slicing and eating, and burpless varieties are the tastiest and least likely to cause gas!
Nutrition InfoSame nutritional value as cucumbers, except with the addition of vinegar and pickling spicesVery little nutritional value besides a high water content and Vitamin K
Special FeaturesIn France, gherkins are also known as cornichons! Originated in India over 3,000 years ago!

Key Differences Between Gherkin vs Cucumber

Gherkin vs Cucumber

The flavor of a raw cucumber is mild and clean compared to the tart and pickled flavor of the average gherkin.

©iStock.com/EugeneTomeev

There are a number of key differences between gherkins and cucumbers. For example, all gherkins are technically cucumbers, but not all cucumbers are gherkins. In addition, gherkins are much smaller than the average cucumber variety. Gherkins are exclusively pickles, while many varieties of cucumber are eaten raw and unpickled. Finally, the rind of the gherkin is more textured than the rind of the average cucumber. 

Let’s go over all of these differences in more detail now. 

Gherkin vs Cucumber: Classification

Given the fact that all gherkins are technically cucumbers, but not all cucumbers are technically gherkins, they are classified the same way. They are both members of the Cucurbitaceae family, known scientifically as Cucumis sativus. The gherkin is simply a smaller variety of cucumber, ideal when pickled or preserved with herbs. 

Gherkin vs Cucumber: Description

Gherkin vs Cucumber

Besides their overall size differences, the gherkin’s rind is often bumpier and more textured compared to the smoother rind of other cucumber varieties.

©Viktoriia Bu/Shutterstock.com

One of the main ways that you can tell the difference between gherkins and other varieties of cucumbers is the fact that gherkins are much smaller than any other variety. For example, gherkins grow an average of 1-6 inches in length, while other cucumber varieties reach up to 12 inches long, if not longer. 

However, besides their overall size differences, the gherkin’s rind is often bumpier and more textured compared to the smoother rind of other cucumber varieties. The flavor of a raw cucumber is mild and clean compared to the tart and pickled flavor of the average gherkin. Otherwise, these plants look extremely similar to one another, outside of the gherkin’s diminutive form! 

Gherkin vs Cucumber: Uses

Gherkin vs Cucumber

Unpickled cucumbers are refreshing and bright in their taste, while gherkins taste pickled and herbaceous, especially if they have been pickled alongside garlic or tarragon!

©iStock.com/Nataliia_Pyzhova

There are a number of uses for the gherkin and other varieties of cucumber, and they do tend to overlap. For example, gherkins are exclusively pickled and eaten raw once they have fermented for a certain period of time, while cucumbers are frequently eaten raw and unpickled. However, other varieties of cucumbers are pickled. These varieties are much larger than the average gherkin. 

Gherkins are popular alongside pate and charcuterie plates, while raw cucumber is popular alongside hummus or in salads and drinks. Overall, unpickled cucumbers are refreshing and bright in their taste, while gherkins taste pickled and herbaceous, especially if they have been pickled alongside garlic or tarragon! 

Gherkin vs Cucumber: Nutrition Information

The nutritional value of both the gherkin and the cucumber are identical to one another, given the fact that they are technically the same plant. However, gherkins receive a bit more nutritional value from the vinegar that it is pickled in, while raw cucumbers do not get this. For the most part, gherkins and cucumbers have a high amount of Vitamin K, but are otherwise fairly negligible in their nutritional value. 

Gherkin vs Cucumber: Special Features

Gherkin vs Cucumber

Gherkins receive a bit more nutritional value from the vinegar that it is pickled in, while raw cucumbers do not get this.

©PixaHub/Shutterstock.com

The cucumber plant is a special plant: it is ancient and has been harvested for a long time. Records date back at least 3,000 years ago, with the cucumber originating in India. It’s unclear when exactly gherkins became popular, but they are found alongside many snack plates around the world. In fact, gherkins are known as cornichons in France, another name that you might know them by!


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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