Discover the World’s Largest Pickle

Written by Kristen Holder
Updated: July 31, 2023
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Pickling is used as a means of preservation, and it is also used to create food out of scraps that would otherwise become food waste. While most people associate pickles with small jars at the grocery store, there are notable examples of large-scale pickling. Let’s discover the world’s largest pickle and other pickle-themed facts now.

What Is a Pickle?

While most people associate pickles with cucumbers, other foodstuff is also pickled.

While most people associate pickles with cucumbers, other foodstuff is also pickled.

©Chatham172/Shutterstock.com

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A pickle is a food item that is preserved to increase its shelf life. This is done through anaerobic fermentation in either a brine solution or vinegar. This keeps harmful microorganisms in check which means the pickled items last for months instead of days.

The process of pickling changes the flavor and texture of the pickled items. It also makes the pickled item taste stronger and more acidic. Pickling solutions are flavored with a variety of things including cloves, mustard seed, garlic, cinnamon, and dill.

While most people associate pickles with cucumbers, other foodstuff is also pickled. Fruits, vegetables, meats, mushrooms, fish, eggs, and dairy products can also be pickled.

Varying food items can be pickled in the same jar which is a common practice in India, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. Sauerkraut is a worldwide favorite created through pickling with its origins in China though the German iterations are most popular today.

Pickled herring from Scandinavia is another well-known pickled product. American pickle traditions include pickled peaches, watermelon rinds, quail eggs, pigs feet, chicken feet, and a relish called chow-chow.

Mexican curtido is a popular pickle mix, and it consists of pickled jalapeños, carrots, and onions. Caribbean and South American ceviches made from octopus, shrimp, and fish are also a product of pickling.

What Is the World’s Largest Pickle?

The largest pickling cucumbers have to be sliced to pickle them properly.

The largest pickling cucumbers have to be sliced to pickle them properly.

©Michael Kraus/Shutterstock.com

While the largest pickling cucumbers have to be sliced to pickle them properly, the largest cucumber ever grown was 44.64 inches long. This means that it was over 3 and a half feet in length.

The cucumber was grown by Sebastian and Renata Suski in Southampton, England. It was certified as the longest cucumber ever on August 20, 2022.

This specific cucumber was grown in a polytunnel to protect it from the summer heat. A polytunnel is like a mini greenhouse that protects crops from extreme weather such as hail and the beating summer sun.

What Is the World’s Largest Jar of Pickles?

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The largest jar of pickles was unveiled on September 13, 2018, in Turkey.

©Bilal Kocabas/Shutterstock.com

A pickle jar almost 5 feet high with a diameter of over 3 and a half feet holds the Guinness World Record for the largest pickle jar in the world. This jar was unveiled on September 13, 2018, at an annual pickle festival in Turkey.

What Is the World’s Largest Pickle Festival?

The world’s largest pickle festival is the Big Dill World’s Largest Pickle Party. Over 10 artisan picklers sell their wares at the event. Some of the food on offer include pickle pizza, fried pickles, pickle hot dogs, pickle ice cream, pickle elote, and pickle egg rolls.

There is a music lineup, and alcohol will be available to guests over 21 years old. There is also a competitive eating competition which includes a brine drinking contest.

At the festival, there is a carnival section geared toward kids as well as an area dedicated to bull riding. This year, the pickle party will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, on Saturday, September 23, and Sunday, September 24. Both days have hours from 11 am to 7 pm.

What Is the World’s Largest Pickle Factory?

The Kraft Heinz factory at 431 W. 16th St. in Holland, Michigan, is the world’s largest pickle factory. Owned by the HJ Heinz Company, this factory has been operating for more than 126 years. One million pounds of pickles are created by the factory every day during the cucumber harvesting season.

Pickles are one of Michigan’s biggest exports. Michigan’s mitten also produces more than 230 million pickling cucumbers each year.

What Is the World’s Largest Pickle Ornament?

On Christmas morning, some American households look for the pickle ornament on their Christmas tree. The first to find it gets to open one of their presents first.

On Christmas morning, some American households look for the pickle ornament on their Christmas tree.

©Garmasheva Natalia/Shutterstock.com

The world’s largest pickle ornament is the Heinz Pickle balloon. It’s as tall as a 3-story building at 35 feet, and it was first put on display in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 2021.

The pickle ornament balloon is also making an appearance at the Picklesburg Christmas in July celebration in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From July 21 to 23, 2023, a pickle bar will accompany holiday-themed activities such as photos with Santa.

On Christmas morning, some American households look for the pickle ornament on their Christmas tree. The first to find it gets to open one of their presents first.

The Christmas pickle ornament tradition began in the 1880s when Woolworth’s began selling German Christmas ornaments shaped like vegetables and fruits. While nobody knows how the pickle ornament tradition evolved, it’s believed that a salesperson made up a story to sell more of these German pickle ornaments in their possession. There is evidence that a Woolworth’s location in Michigan at the time had way too many pickle ornaments in stock. 

Who Created the First Pickles?

Pickling with salt was first recorded in Chinese manuscripts. These writings are over 9000 years old.

The Mesopotamians were probably the first to pickle items with vinegar sometime around 2400 BCE. From there, pickling spread and was popular in Egypt by 50 BCE. Julius Caesar gave his soldiers pickles to enhance their strength, and Cleopatra attributed some of her beauty and health to pickled products.

Pickled meats like salt beef and salt pork were staple foods for sailors embarking on long journeys during the Age of Exploration. Pickled vegetables were also a necessary part of meal planning for ships as they helped prevent scurvy.

In the nineteenth century, pickles in American, English, and Australian shops had a reputation for being poisonous. That’s because copper salts were used as a coloring agent. This caused copper toxicity which sometimes caused connoisseurs to suffer from kidney disease.

In response to these poisonous pickles, Henry Heinz lobbied successfully that pickles with poisonous additives should be illegal. His actions led to a series of events that ultimately resulted in the creation of the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Chatham172/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Kristen Holder is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics related to history, travel, pets, and obscure scientific issues. Kristen has been writing professionally for 3 years, and she holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of California, Riverside, which she obtained in 2009. After living in California, Washington, and Arizona, she is now a permanent resident of Iowa. Kristen loves to dote on her 3 cats, and she spends her free time coming up with adventures that allow her to explore her new home.

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