Disclaimer: I love pickles. Their crisp bite is synonymous with some of my happiest childhood memories — spending Christmas Eve eating too many kosher pickles at 2nd Avenue Deli or heaping extra dill on my burgers. My favorite cukes are surprisingly healthy, and are full of probiotics and antioxidants. Their satisfying crunch and sour aftertaste makes them a staple for New Yorkers, the Jewish community, and yes, Snooki.

Yet, if you asked me the differences between pickles, ranging from dill to bread and butter, I'd usually come up short. To figure out the best time to nosh on different types of pickle, I've figured out what makes each variety unique. 

1. Genuine Dill Pickles

When you think of pickles, images of the dill variety come to mind. The most common pickle, dills are whole cucumbers pickled with dill weed and dill seed. They're known for their sour taste and their iconic packing—served whole or vertically sliced with the iconic Vlasic seal. The most common pickling method is perhaps the most simple: use a flavored vinegar and store them jarred on a shelf at room temperature. 

While you're typically used to snacking on dill pickles straight from the jar or using them as a complement to a juicy burger or BLT, you can use them in a dip perfect for game days or a soup for rainy afternoons.

2. Kosher Dill Pickles

While there's something inherently Jewish about the pickling process, not all pickles are kosher. Kosher pickles refer to ones prepared in the style of New York Jewish delis, known for the addition of garlic and its salty taste. These cukes are fermented using a salt brine that's poured on top before the pickles are stored at room temperature. 

Kosher pickles are best eaten alone, or perhaps with coleslaw and a pastrami on rye the size of your face, a la Katz's Delicattesen. For authentic pickles at home, try this easy to follow recipe.

3. Sweet Pickles

Like the name indicates, sweet pickles are, well, sweet. This type of pickle is marinated with the typical vinegar mixture, but adds sugar and various spices, like mustard seed , cinnamon, and onion.

Sweet pickles, due to their slightly less polarizing taste, are often the base for kitschy products, like candy-canes and even pickle-flavored soft serve (spoiler alert: it tastes like Sour Patch Kids).

4. Bread and Butter Pickles

A bread and butter pickle is to sweet pickles as Kendall Jenner is to the Kardashians—part of the same family, but oh so different. Sweet yet briny, these pickles have no relation to bread. Bread and butter pickles are built on the sweet pickle base, but add celery seeds and coriander for a tangier finish. 

Bread and butter pickles top your Big Mac and a host of other fast food burgers, but are just as versatile as their dill brethren. Fry them for your fair food fix or add them to your toast for a Southern-style brunch.

5. Gherkin Pickles

pickle, salt, vinegar, condiment, gherkin, vegetable, jam
Hannah Petersen

If bread and butter pickles are Kendall, then gherkins are North West. Native to North America, this type of pickle refers to ones made from miniature cucumbers measuring at most 3 inches long. Gherkins can be pickled in any of the aforementioned styles, making them flavor chameleons. 

However, if we want to be pickle connoisseurs, a distinction must be made: a gherkin is a pickle, but a small pickle is not always a gherkin, based on its origins. Basically, both belong to the same gourd family, but are from different cultivar groups (which is horticulture speak for "different branches of the same family tree"). Gherkins are often referred to as condiment vegetables, meaning they're added to sauces for an extra punch of flavor. Try this mayonnaise or tartare sauce to see them shine. 

Like life, pickles are surprisingly complicated. Their subtle flavor distinctions make them hard to separate, but with a little knowledge and lots of pickles, you'll get the hang of it.