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What are Gherkins and How are they Related to Cucumbers?

Commercial cucumbers and gherkins are both from the same species (Cucumis sativus), but they come from separate cultivar families. Continue reading to know the complete difference!

Binita Kumari

Gherkin is a savory pickled cucumber that is commonly known as a gherkin. Commercial cucumbers and gherkins are both from the same species (Cucumis sativus), but they come from separate cultivar families.

Pickled in jars or cans with vinegar (sometimes flavored with herbs, particularly dill; therefore, "dill pickle") or brine, they are normally harvested when they are 4 to 8 cm (1 to 3 in) long.

India has now established itself as the source of the best gherkin cultivation, processing, and exporters to meet the ever-increasing global demand.

Gherkin cultivation, processing, and exports began in India in the early 1990s, with a small start in the South Indian state of Karnataka, and eventually expanded to the adjacent states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

During the 2017-18 fiscal year, India exported 220939.2 MT of cucumber and gherkins worth Rs. 1285.22 crores / 199.5 USD million to the United States, Belgium, Spain, France, and Russia.

Small and marginal farmers are involved in the production of gherkins. Gherkin production currently employs over a million small and marginal farmers. Gherkins are grown solely on a "contract farming" basis.

The Indian gherkin manufacturers follow the whole range of tasks in the cultivation techniques, followed by the farmers, processing standards, and so on, in order to produce very high-quality gherkins for the world markets.

This industry has shown the true and effective model of contract farming, which allows the industry to maintain a high level of quality control over the end product while meeting the demands of the international market.

Initially, processed gherkins were shipped in bulk, but since 2001, they've been shipped in "Ready-to-Eat Jars." India's gherkin industry is now fully focused, and its exports are mostly divided into two categories:

Provisionally preserved (in vinegar, acetic acid, or brine):

Gherkin exports come in 220-liter bulk containers packed in food-grade H.D.P.E. barrels (High-Density Poly Ethylene). Importers then repack this into smaller, ready-to-eat consumer packets to meet the needs of their customers.

Preserved in Vinegar:

These are gherkins that are ready to eat and come in smaller jars and cans. In both the agricultural and manufacturing processes, quality assurance systems are strictly followed. 

The sector has been deemed to be proactive in maintaining quality standards in accordance with importing countries' requirements. The majority of processing plants have established quality control systems such as HACCP, ISO, and BRC to meet importer requirements.

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