Bread-and-butter pickles are a perfect match for sandwiches, burgers, and even barbecue. Do all brands strike the same balance of sweet and sour? Find out with this taste test!
Today, you and your friends or family are going to practice being professional tasters. You’ll taste different brands of pickles and determine which one is your favorite by rating them based on their flavor and texture.
Ask an adult—or a friend or family member—to be the Tasting Organizer. This is an important job! They will be in charge of setting up the tasting. The Tasting Organizer should:
Give each taster 1 sheet of blank paper and a marker or pen. Have each taster use their marker or pen to divide the paper into the same number of sections as brands of pickles you’ll be tasting. Label the sections “Sample 1,” “Sample 2,” and so on, depending on how many samples you have.
Meanwhile, give each taster a glass of water and 2 crackers or a slice of sandwich bread—these will help cleanse your palate between tastes.
The Tasting Organizer should give each taster 2 or 3 slices of each brand of pickles on their sheet of paper, placing slices of the first brand under “Sample 1,” slices of the second brand under “Sample 2,” and so on. (You probably want to put the pickles in small bowls, since they’re wet.)
Time to taste!
Time to pick a winner! Which of your samples had the highest Overall Score? That’s your winning pickle. Look at the key (made by the Tasting Organizer) to see which brand matches your winning sample.
Bread-and-butter pickles are made by soaking cucumbers in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. The sugar makes them taste sweeter than other pickles, which usually don’t contain sugar. You might have noticed that the pickles have a yellow-green color. That yellow generally comes from a spice called turmeric (“TOO-mer-ick”) that’s added to the soaking liquid.
But bread-and-butter pickles don’t contain any bread . . . or any butter. So where does the name come from?
Their origin story is a mystery! Some people say that, like bread and butter, these pickles are good enough to eat at every meal. Others claim that they got their name because they’re often eaten on sandwiches. Yet another theory is that the name comes from the Swedish word smorgasbord (“SMORE-ges-board”), which means “sandwich table” or “bread and butter table.”
Where do YOU think their name comes from?
Do your observations about the pickles’ flavor line up with what their packaging says? Find out by taking a closer look at the ingredient list and nutrition label on each pickle’s package.
Do pickles that taste sweeter have more sugar? Look at how many grams of sugar each brand has on its nutrition label. Do the pickles with the most sugar taste the sweetest? When we did this taste test in the America’s Test Kitchen Kids lab, our tasters found that pickles with high-fructose corn syrup (another kind of sugar) tasted much sweeter than pickles made with regular sugar. What about you?