Do Pickles Go Bad? – Full Analysis

by Charlie
Pickles

Crunchy, fresh, and fermented, pickles are a beloved sour food. Many people love to put pickles on their hamburgers, which is perhaps the most popular food in the United States. Pickles are a standard ingredient in all burgers. So, if you don’t like pickles, you have to request to take them out. 

Do pickles go bad? Yes, pickles do go bad. But they are far more likely to go bad from improper handling and poor storage than getting old. Pickles are a shelf-stable forever food, so they can easily last 5 years or more. An open jar of pickles can last for 4-6 months in the refrigerator.

To properly store a pickle jar, leave it in the back of the pantry where it is coolest and where no light can affect it. But once you open the jar, it has to stay in the refrigerator. 

How Long Do Pickles Last?

Pickles last for a long time, much longer than anyone expects. From the moment they are packaged and sealed in their jars and to the expiration date, pickles can last for years. 

Pickles are one of those foods that technically have an expiration date, but they don’t expire on that date. Pickles are technically a forever food. They are perfect for long storage, lasting for 5+ years. 

So, if you have a jar of pickles in your pantry right now, go ahead and take a look at the expiration date(s) on the bottom of the back. Once you find it, disregard it completely. Pickles can last as long as possible as long as they’re stored well.

But the longevity of a jar of pickles lasts until the lid comes off and the seal is broken. Once you open a jar of pickles, they will last 4-6 months. 4-6 months is still a good amount of time to eat 15 to 20 pickles, so you’ll be able to finish them easily. But opened pickles have to be in the refrigerator. 

How Long Do Pickles Last? Shelf Life [Chart]

ItemShelf Life
Pickles, sealed5+ years
Pickles, opened, refrigerator4-6 months

Signs that Pickles Have Gone Bad

The jar has bubbles around the rim: A sudden appearance of bubbles around the water’s edge of the pickles usually happens after it is open. But if you also see bubbles while the pickles are sealed, then it is a warning sign. No matter if the jar is opened or closed, bubbles in the pickle juice means that certain bacteria are fermenting in the pickle juice. 

After pickles are canned and brined, there should not be any more fermentation activity in the liquid inside. Another sign that the jar is still fermenting with bad bacteria is a bulging lid. If you see he’s helpful in bulging out words instead of lying flat, throw away the pickles.

They taste differently: Pickles should always taste like pickles. When you go to your refrigerator and take out a pickle, be sure to test a little piece of it first before eating the entire thing. If it tastes as normal as always, then go ahead and proceed. But if you notice a strange new biting taste, then the pickles may have gone sour.

The pickles are changing color: Some foods can change their color over time and are still edible. Pickles are not one of these foods. If you notice that your pickles are turning darker or they have streaks of white running through them, do not eat them. The pickles are going bad, and you could develop salmonella poisoning.

The juice or the pickle smell rotten: No matter what food you eat, the smell and taste test will prevent you from eating rotten and poisonous food 9 times out of 10. So, when you open a glass container of pickles and it smells like something died inside, that is a big no-no. 

Pickles have a vinegary fermented smell, but they shouldn’t smell rotted. A rotten smell means that bacteria has made its way into the jar somehow. It most likely happens during the canning process, which means it happened at the factory.

How to Store Pickles

Pickles have a very long shelf life, so they can sit on grocery store shelves and in your pantry for years. As long as you keep your pickles in a cool dry area where they will be safe from the light, and the area does not experience drastic changes in temperature, then it will be shelf stable. 

Once you open the pickles, the jar has to stay in the refrigerator. Pickles will go bad quickly once the seal is broken. 

Conclusion

  • Pickles are an extremely popular food, and they are most often found on hamburgers.
  • Because of the fermentation process, pickles last a very long time, easily 5 years or more.
  • Pickles are great for long-term storage kits since they last 5 years or more.
  • After you open the jar of pickles, you have to put them in the refrigerator and they will last 4-6 months.
  • There are four major signs that your jar of pickles has gone bad: a terrible rotten smell, the pickles are changing colors, bubbles are forming in the liquid, and they have developed a terrible taste.
  • Pickle juice and pickles should not smell rotten.
  • If you see the pickle or the pickle juice turning different colors like dark green or white, it may be developing bad bacteria that can give you food poisoning.
  • Pickles should always taste the same, so if you notice a change in their taste, then they’re going bad.

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