Image: Getty Images/Tina Tiller

The pickles of New Zealand, reviewed and ranked

Pickle fanatic Dara Flaws brings us this definitive list of which gherkins are worth their brine.

I work in a restaurant in Wellington and one of my biggest pet peeves (aside from the charming, considerate customers clicking their fingers to gain your attention) is when someone says: “Can I have the burger – without the pickles?”

WITHOUT the pickles? Are you crazy? Are you actually barking mad? How were you raised? Were you born without taste buds? It honestly breaks my heart.

To be fair, I was basically forced to like pickles from a young age, much like I was forced to like books and wine, thanks to my dad telling me at the dinner table over a roast chicken that I should really drink with my family before I start drinking with my friends. I was nine.

Anyway, I have vivid memories of my best friend refusing to sit with me at lunchtime in Year Two because Mum would always wrap a few gherkins up in some glad wrap and I’d just sit there gnawing at them like some kind of pickle savage. My friend thought they were smelly and I thought they were better than sliced bread, so I just sat there alone, looking like one of those miserable kids in movies who gets severely bullied because their parents give them weird food.

I eat pickles on virtually everything. The chefs at my work know that the easiest way to please me is to put pickles on my staff meal. Even a half-arsed wilted salad with a few pickles tossed through it will have me leaping for joy and saying “OOH PICKLES!” 

I eat pickles on pizza and in toasties and on cheeseboards and with peanut butter and out of the jar when I’m hungover. You want a good breakfast combo? Try crunchy peanut butter, pickles, cherry tomatoes and pepper, I dare you. If a restaurant has deep-fried pickles on their menu, you can bet your brine I’m there. Last Halloween I went to a party dressed as a pickle. I’m not kidding.

Anyway, for all those other pickle fanatics out there (trust me, I know there are more of you), I have decided to review and rank a few pickle brands I’ve had the pleasure of sampling over the years. Here they are, rated from worst to best.

9 VAN HOLTEN’S DILL PICKLE

This is a giant, individually wrapped pickle that I found in one of those stores that sells a load of American snacks. I think American candy is absolute rubbish, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that this pickle was too. As well as being bad for the environment with its individual wrapping, this pickle had absolutely no crunch and was far too sweet for my liking.

8 SUN HARVEST BABY CUCUMBERS 

Terrible. Don’t even bother.

7 PAMS CRINKLE CUT GHERKINS

Awful.

6 PAMS WHOLE GHERKINS

Only acceptable if you’re buying these for a fancy dress party where you intend on losing/giving away/drunkenly eating/smashing the jar. 

5 GOLDEN SUN CORNICHONS

I mean, they’re all right. But they just don’t wow you. I’m not wowed.

4 SUN HARVEST SANDWICH STACKERS 

Pickles that have been sliced lengthwise. These are the pickles that I remember Mum having in the fridge in my teenage years. I admit, they were excellent for burgers and toasties. Now, I think they are a bit lacklustre, and a wee bit flaccid. Terrible for cheese and crackers.

3 DELMAINE GHERKINS

These are the gherkins from my lunchbox days. Buy them whole, not sliced, for the best results. I still think they have a good bite to them. The perfect gherkin if you don’t feel like spending $15.

2 MCCLURE’S SPICY DILL PICKLES

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I tried these for the first time when I was a bit (very) drunk at my friend’s parents’ house. They were part of a cheese platter and I gobbled them all up. Highly recommended.

 

1 MCCLURE’S GARLIC DILL PICKLES

These are the best pickles I have ever tried. At $15 a jar they are a wee bit on the pricey side, but holy damn they’re worth it! They are crunchy and tangy, a little bit sweet and a little bit salty. I almost cried the first time I bit into one. I took the open jar around to all my flatmates and made them sniff the contents.


The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.


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