Have you ever walked past the relish section in your local grocery store and felt a little perplexed as to why there are so many different types of pickles?
Look closer and often you’ll find cornichons next to the big fat dill slices.
What’s the difference between those two, anyway?
Are they just tiny pickles or is there something else that sets them apart? The answer might surprise you!
In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into cornichons vs pickles—from what makes them unique in flavor to how they should be used in recipes—to give you an all-encompassing understanding of these beloved tart treats.
What are Cornichons?
Cornichons are small, tart pickles that originated in France.
They are usually made from small cucumbers or gherkins that are pickled in vinegar and flavored with herbs such as tarragon, mustard seeds, and garlic.
Cornichons are often served as a garnish for meats and pâtés, although they can also be enjoyed on their own as a snack.
Cornichons have a distinct sourness due to their vinegar-based brine.
The addition of herbs and spices gives them a unique flavor profile that sets them apart from other types of pickles.
Because cornichons are made from smaller cucumbers than traditional pickles, they tend to have a firmer texture and more concentrated flavor.
If you’ve never tried cornichons before, you may want to start by using them sparingly until you get used to the strong taste.
Some people find the sourness of cornichons to be overwhelming at first, but many others enjoy the tangy bite they deliver.
What are Pickles?
Pickles are cucumbers that have been soaked in a brine solution made of water, vinegar, and salt along with various herbs and spices.
This process preserves the cucumbers by preventing bacteria from growing on them.
Pickles come in a variety of flavors such as sour, dill or sweet.
They also have a crispy texture which makes them great for eating alone or adding to your favorite sandwich for some added crunch.
When it comes to sizes, pickles can be found in small sandwich slices or larger lengthwise cuts.
The appearance of pickles is usually light green but can vary depending on the type of cucumber used.
Overall, pickles are a versatile snack option that can add flavor and texture to any meal without being too heavy.
Differences Between Cornichons and Pickles
Cornichons and pickles are two types of preserved cucumbers that many people often confuse.
However, despite their similarities, they do have some differences worth noting.
As shown in the table above, one of the most significant differences between cornichons and pickles is their size.
While cornichons tend to be smaller in size (1-2 inches), pickles can range from small to large sizes (3-4 inches).
Another noticeable difference is the type of vinegar used during preservation.
Cornichons are typically preserved in white wine vinegar and spices such as tarragon and mustard, while pickles are usually preserved with apple cider vinegar or distilled vinegar.
In terms of flavor, cornichons are known for having a tart taste due to their smaller size and denser texture.
On the other hand, pickles have a sour flavor profile because of their larger size and softer texture due to longer fermentation periods.
Additionally, cornichons are mainly used for garnishing charcuterie boards or adding to dishes like coq au vin or salad nicoise, whereas pickles are commonly used as sandwich toppings or added to burgers.
Overall, while both cornichons and pickles may look similar at first glance, they do have distinct differences that set them apart from each other.
Origin and Cultural Significance
The origin and cultural significance of cornichons and pickles is quite interesting.
These two foods have been around for centuries and have played significant roles in various cultures.
In France, cornichons were often paired with charcuterie and pâté.
They were considered to be a traditional French food and were commonly found on café menus throughout the country.
As for pickles, they are popular all around the world and can be found in different cuisines such as Indian spicy pickles or Japanese style pickled ginger.
Pickling also has cultural significance.
Many cultures around the world have developed their own styles of pickling due to preservation purposes when refrigeration was not available.
For example, Korean kimchi is a type of pickle that traditionally included vegetables like cabbage and radish before spices are added.
To sum up this section, it’s safe to say that both cornichons and pickles have historical backgrounds worth looking into.
The main difference between cornichons and pickles lies in the ingredients used to prepare these delicacies.
While both are made using cucumbers, they differ in a number of other ingredients that provide unique flavor profiles to them.
Cornichons and pickles share some common ingredients such as cucumbers, vinegar and salt.
However, there are some differences too.
Cornichons always include sugar while it is optional for pickles.
On the other hand, pickles may contain mustard seeds as well as dill, which is purely optional based on one’s preference.
In essence, these recipes come down to personal taste preferences more than anything else.
The ratio of ingredients can also vary slightly based on region and tradition.
It is this variability that gives each recipe its unique profile, so experimentation is always welcome when preparing these dishes.
It is fascinating to note how different cultures have their own version of preserved cucumber and how it has evolved over time with changes in popularity and availability of various spices making way into these recipes.
Size and Texture
When it comes to cornichons and pickles, the difference in size and texture is quite noticeable.
Cornichons are smaller in size compared to pickles, usually no longer than a pinky finger.
On the other hand, pickles can come in various sizes, from small ones used for sandwiches to larger ones used as snacks.
Aside from their size differences, the texture also sets them apart.
Cornichons have a firm and crunchy texture, almost like biting into an apple or pear.
Pickles, on the other hand, can either be crisp or soft depending on their style of preparation.
Now that we’ve discussed the size and texture difference between cornichons and pickles let’s move on to comparing their ultimate characteristic: flavor profile.
Flavor Profile Comparison
When it comes to cornichons vs pickles, the flavor profile is where the two differ significantly.
Cornichons are known for their tangy and sharp flavor, which is a result of their signature ingredients – white vinegar, mustard seeds and pearl onions.
On the other hand, pickles have a more balanced taste with notes of sweetness and sourness that come from a mix of vinegar, sugar, salt, dill weed and garlic.
As you can see from above table, cornichons have a sharper flavor thanks to the use of mustard seeds and pearl onions.
These additional ingredients enhance the tanginess of the white vinegar base.
In contrast, pickles use sugar along with dill weed to balance out the sourness of vinegar giving them a mix between sweet and tart.
Despite both being brined cucumbers placed in vinegar solution; cornichons possess a much stronger pickling powerhouse when it comes to flavor compared to regular pickles.
So whether you’re using them as an ingredient in cooking or just want them on their own as a snack; you’ll need to consider which one suits your recipe or palate better.
It’s important to note that everyone’s taste preferences are different so what might be too strong for some could be perfect for others.
Nevertheless this breakdown helps make more informed decisions about what you’re eating based on your diet or culinary preference.
Uses in Cooking and Culinary Pairings
Cornichons and pickles are great additions to many dishes as they offer different flavors, textures, and aromas that can enhance the taste of food.
Cornichons are commonly used in French cuisine, while pickles are popular in Southern American cuisine.
In French cuisine, cornichons are often used for garnish or served on the side of charcuterie boards.
They’re also used in salads or dressings to add a tangy flavor.
Pickles, on the other hand, complement dishes with strong flavors such as BBQ meats or savory sandwiches.
They bring a crunch and acidity that can balance out rich flavors.
In sandwiches, both cornichons and pickles provide an additional layer of texture and depth of flavor.
Diced or chopped cornichons work best for potato salads to add a hint of sourness, while diced pickles add a crispiness that complements the soft potatoes.
When it comes to deviled eggs, cornichons work well due to their small size and light flavor.
However, some people opt for using pickle juice instead of chopped pickles for an added kick.
Popular Brands of Cornichons and Pickles
Now that you know the difference between cornichons and pickles, it’s time to explore some of the most popular brands available in the market.
Both cornichons and pickles have a wide range of brands to choose from but some of them are more known than the others.
Maille is one of the most popular cornichon brands which produces both original and flavored variations.
Lidl offers affordable options for people on a budget without compromising on the taste while Roland Foods offers top-notch quality with imported French cornichons.
Meanwhile, Vlasic has been dominating the pickle industry by producing a variety of pickled vegetables including their classic dill pickles, bread & butter slices, and even spicy chips.
You can also try Claussen’s refrigerated pickles that are known for their crunchy texture and freshness as they use freshly-picked cucumbers.
Another brand to consider is Mt.
Olive Pickles & Relish which specializes in sweetened pickle chips or spears as well as relishes that add sweetness to your dishes.
Gedney Foods also offers multiple flavors such as garlic dill, sweet and spicy varieties that cater to different preferences.
Which is Better: Cornichons or Pickles?
When it comes to deciding between cornichons and pickles, it ultimately depends on personal preference.
Both have their own unique flavor profiles and uses.
However, if we were to compare the two based on certain factors, we could come to a conclusion about which may be better suited for certain dishes or occasions.
One could argue that cornichons are better suited for charcuterie boards or as an accompaniment to meats and cheeses due to their small size and tart flavor.
On the other hand, pickles are more versatile in their uses as they have a variety of sizes and can add a sour crunch to sandwiches, burgers, and even salads.
Ultimately, the decision between cornichons and pickles boils down to personal preference and intended use.
One is not necessarily better than the other – it just depends on what you’re looking for in terms of texture, taste, and presentation.
If we were to compare cornichons and pickles solely on taste, it would be difficult to make a decision as both have distinct flavors.
However, if we consider other factors such as nutrition and versatility, it becomes clear that cornichons are the better option.
Furthermore, cornichons are more versatile than pickles as they can be used in a variety of dishes such as salads, sauces and even cocktails.
Pickles are typically only used in sandwiches or burgers.