The taste of a good pickle can be hard to replicate. Crunchy, salty, sour, and satisfying; pickles make the list of one of the best kitchen staples in the world.
It makes a great addition to salads, sandwiches, and several dishes and recipes. Pickles can also be enjoyed as a condiment, and they can be very beneficial to the process of digestion.
If you have had a jar of pickles for too long, you might begin to wonder if they go bad. It is best to know how long these lovely crunchies last in the refrigerator, so you won’t be worried about them going bad next time you open a jar.
How long do pickles last in the fridge? Unopened pasteurized or unpasteurized pickles will last for 3 months in the fridge, while opened pasteurized pickles will also last for the same amount of time. Homemade pickles have a longer life span in the fridge; they can last for up to a year.
Homemade pickles lack an expiration date. When you pasteurize cucumbers, you only start counting from the day you made them. Pickles in jars at stores come with an expiration date, but the jar can still keep the pickles in good condition if left unopened.
How Long Do Pickles Last at Room Temperature?
Pickles are very enduring and can last for a year or two after their expiration date if the jar is left unopened. Pickles are made when bland cucumbers with a short shelf life of 5 days undergo a pickling process.
The cucumbers are placed in a sterile jar, and a boiled solution of salt water (brine) and vinegar is poured into the jar with the cucumbers to fill it up. Then the mixture is left in the airtight jar for 48 hours or more, depending on how tasty you want your pickles to be.
If pickles are correctly sealed, they will likely stay fresh in the pantry for up to a year. The pickled environment that brews the pickles is very hostile to bacteria, and that’s why they last so long. The expiration date on most pickle jars refers to the date for best quality, not spoilage. Pickles can go bad if you leave the jar unsealed or leave them out in the open.
If you have unpasteurized pickles, you should never leave them out for more than a few days. Pickles would eventually go bad if left uncovered and out of the refrigerator. So how do you tell when pickles have gone bad?
How to Tell if Pickles Have Gone Bad
Several telltale signs can help you confirm if your pickles have gone bad or not. If you feel skeptical about a jar of pickles, you should watch for these signs.
A foul odor is an alert that something has gone bad. Regular pickles should have a scent that is pleasant and easily recognizable. If your jar of pickles has a rancid unpleasant smell, that might be a sign that they have gone bad. Even if the pickles look totally normal, you shouldn’t eat them if they smell bad.
An Inflated Lid
This is probably the first thing you’ll notice. Once pickles go bad, the acid in the brine and vinegar solution mixture creates pressure in the airtight environment that the pickles are stored in. The pressure makes the jar’s top swell and becomes dome-shaped. If you notice your jar pickles look like this, you need to dispose of them immediately. It has definitely gone bad.
The Color of the Brine
The brine used to pickle the cucumbers should have a pale yellow color and be entirely clear. If you notice any changes in the brine that holds your pickles, then something has gone wrong. If the brine is slimy and cloudy upon inspection, you should throw that jar of pickles away.
Some pickle recipes include peppercorns. Other than that, your jar of pickles should not contain anything dark or brown. If you have floating particles in your jar of pickles, it might mean it has been infected by fungi. If there are dark spots on the pickles, it might also indicate a fungal infection. Such pickles should be discarded.
If you leave your jar of pickles in a warm place, mold can develop. While the sediment at the bottom of your jar might look normal, discard the jar if there is mold on the surface. Mold is a clear indicator that your pickles have gone bad.
If you try eating your pickles and they feel slimy or spongy, you should discard them. Pickles should always be hard and crunchy. Soft pickles should not be consumed. If a single pickle has gone bad, you can save the rest of the jar if you find out in time.
How Can You Store Pickles to Last Longer?
The best way to store your pickles, especially when the jar is still unopened, is to keep them in a cool, dry corner in your pantry. Keep your pickles out of direct sunlight. This will help prolong the shelf life of your pickles.
The key to making pickles last longer is to keep them in the coldest part of your house. Make sure never to use your hands or dirty utensils to get the pickles out of the jar. You can contaminate the remaining content. Always use clean utensils, never your hands.
The refrigerator is another safe space to store your pickles for a longer period, especially if you have opened the jar. An open jar of pickles should be kept in the refrigerator.
Keeping your jar of pickles on the refrigerator door is not the best choice because the temperature at the door changes whenever the refrigerator gets opened. A constant temperature change will cause blurring brine, affecting your pickles before their expiration date.
The freezer is another option if you need your pickles to be fresh for longer than 3 months. When freezing pickles, you need to freeze them in the appropriate jar.
An airtight plastic bag, Ziploc bag, or mason jar is your best option. These containers help the pickles not to absorb other foods’ odors in the freezer. Freezing the pickles in small portions helps it to last longer as you don’t have to thaw the entire batch just to have some.
Always make sure your pickles are submerged in the brine. Else, the protruding part of the pickle may dry out. Try making sure your pickle is completely covered in brine before returning the jar to storage.
If you are an avid pickle fan, you must have jars of pickles in your stash. If you store them properly and take very good care of them, pickles will last till you are ready to eat them.