What Makes a Great Dill Pickle Spear?

Pickles can be the perfect snack to accompany your sandwich or be that tangy kick in your tuna or chicken salad. A high quality dill pickle is foremost defined by its texture. The initial bite should possess a snap which yields to a crunchy and moist chew. The external skin may have some toughness but not so much that it resides in the mouth after the remainder of the pickle has been swallowed. The pickle interior should not be mushy. The cucumber seeds should be tender to chew. There are expectations for low to moderate astringency. In addition it is acceptable for there to be low levels of spiciness. The aroma and flavor should include pickling notes of vinegar, dill, and garlic – supported by mustard, turmeric, clove, onion, coriander and cucumber. The dill and sulfur intensity (if sulfur is present) should not overwhelm the other notes. There should not be a rancid note present. The exterior and interior color should be “cucumber green.” The interior of the spears should appear to have integrity with the seeds mostly intact.

Tasting terms

  • tangy

    A notably sharp aroma or flavor. Example: Orange juice and sharp cheddar cheese both have a tangy flavor.

  • texture

    A dimension used to organize attributes like mouthfeel, graininess and initial bite, it is one of the five dimensions used by ChefsBest Master Tasters to evaluate food. Example: Glazed popcorn will have a crunch texture. The texture of milk chocolate should be creamy and smooth.

  • initial bite

    The sensation of texture from the first bite of a particular food, as opposed to the sensation while it is being chewed. Example: A cookie might offer resistance on its initial bite, but it will crumble easily when chewed. Corn should have a snap on its initial bite.

  • snap

    When a food breaks apart cleanly. Example: Fresh corn, grapes, carrots and the casing of a hot dog will have a snap when bitten.

  • chew

    The texture of a food as it is being chewed, as opposed to the texture of the first bite. Example: High-quality beef jerky should be tender but have a long chew.

  • astringency

    The tendency of some foods to cause the mouth to pucker; often associated with the presence of tannins or acidity. Example: Red wine, tea, grapefruit juice and pickles can be astringent.

  • aroma

    The smell that emanates from food. Along with appearance, texture, flavor and taste, aroma is one of the five dimensions used to evaluate a product. Example: Brownies should have an aroma that includes chocolate as well as egg, toasty and sweet notes.

  • flavor

    A combination of a food's basic taste and its accompanying aroma, flavor is the distinctive taste of a food or ingredient while it is in the mouth. Along with aroma, appearance, texture and taste, flavor is one of the five dimensions considered by ChefsBest Master Tasters. Example: Chocolate chip cookies should have a moderate chocolate flavor accompanied by a slightly lower level of complex dough flavor that includes egg, flour, vanilla and brown sugar notes.