So you’ve bought a jar of pickles, and are adding them to your sandwiches every once in a while. And at a certain point you start to wonder: do pickles need to be refrigerated? If you’re curious about pickle preservation, this article is for you.
So, do you need to refrigerate the pickles? Not always. The purpose of refrigerating pickles is preservation. If your pickles jar is from the store’s refrigeration section, it may need refrigeration. But if you picked your pickles from a regular shelf, you don’t need to refrigerate them. Before chilling, keep your homemade pickles at room temperature for two weeks to ferment. Refrigerated or not, the shelf life of pickles is 1-2 years.
Refrigeration also depends on the type of pickle and techniques you use during preservation.
Table of Contents
What Are Pickles And How To Store Them?
Pickles are veggies soaked in brine or vinegar solution. Pickling is a unique technique to preserve food for longer. Besides preservation, pickling is a popular method for taste enhancement. It gives a refreshing taste to your vegetables.
The art of pickling and food preservation started in China. Historians know that the workers who built the Great Wall of China were fed sauerkraut over two thousand years ago.
Whether you’re putting them in a Mexican sandwich or enjoying one as a stand-alone snack, pickles are hard to beat. Salty, sour, sweet, crunchy, and thoroughly satisfying, pickles make our list of top kitchen staples. You can use pickles with curry, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and rice.
Storage Of Pasteurized Pickles
The storage depends on whether the pickles are pasteurized or not. Most pickles at grocery stores go through pasteurization and rarely need refrigeration.
Their fermentation stops during the pasteurization process. And all the good bacteria also die.
So such pickles are now perfect even at room temperature. However, you must keep them away from sunlight or heat.
A dark place such as the kitchen cabinets or pantry is an ideal storage place for unopened pasteurized pickles.
When opened, you can transfer them to a jar with a tight seal for refrigeration.
Storage Of Unpasteurized (Fermented) Pickles
In contrast to pasteurized pickles, you will always find unpasteurized pickles in the cold center of the store. That’s because the fermentation process is still happening, and the “Beneficial” bacteria are active inside the jar. So to slow down the fermentation, unpasteurized pickles need refrigeration.
You can also keep unpasteurized pickles at room temperature. However, the ongoing fermentation process will make the veggies sour with time.
So if you don’t like super sour pickles, you can refrigerate them for mild flavor. Once opened, remember to refrigerate your unpasteurized pickles in a jar with a tight seal.
Do You Need To Refrigerate Fermented Pickles?
You can refrigerate fermented pickles, but it may not be necessary. The refrigeration chills these pickles and slows the fermentation process. The flavor and texture also become mild and crunchy.
However, outside the fridge, these pickles will constantly ferment. And this causes the ingredients in the brine to become sour with time. The taste of such pickles might appeal to some, while others may not like it.
Continuous fermentation makes the sour pickles produce more lactobacillus. Higher lactobacillus content in pickles means they are healthier. However, you should still use pickles in moderation.
Easy Overnight Refrigerator Pickles
Varieties Of Pickles
Many regions have their designated names and recipes for pickles. Here are some examples:
- Kimchi or kimchee in Korea is a pickle with fermented napa cabbage and radish as the key ingredients.
- In New York City, kosher dill pickles are most famous. These pickles have cucumber as the main or sometimes the only ingredient.
- Indians serve chutneys as pickles with multiple dishes.
- In Japan, miso pickles are the most popular. Miso pickles usually contain different round-cut veggies.
- Salted duck and chicken eggs are Chinese pickles.
- In Ireland, you will find pickles as corned beef.
- In Scandinavia, people make pickles with fish such as herring.
- Salsa is the pickle of Mexico.
- Pickled pigs’ feet are famous in the southern United States.
Do You Need To Refrigerate Kosher Dill Pickles?
All the kosher dill pickles you buy from stores have “Refrigerate After Opening” printed on their labels. It’s because once you open the jar, the pickles and brine get exposed to air.
That means you should always refrigerate your kosher dill pickles after opening. And consume it within a few weeks.
If you have not opened your kosher dill jar even after the best-before date, it may be safe to eat. However, throw it out in case you find mold growth.
Do You Need To Refrigerate Homemade Pickles?
You can use pasteurized homemade pickles without refrigeration. However, if you have made unpasteurized (fermented) homemade pickles, you should refrigerate them.
Fermented pickles might change in texture and taste at room temperature. Yet you can keep them with or without a fridge as brine or vinegar help preserve pickles.
So, refrigerated or not, homemade pickles are safe unless they get in contact with mold.
Do Pickles Go Bad?
Pickles can usually last for years, but sometimes they can go bad. If you keep your pickles at room temperature, make sure you submerge all the veggies in the brine.
The mold grows on the portion left outside the brine, so throw out only the moldy portion if you encounter such a situation. However, the veggies in the brine are fine to eat unless you discover mold in the brine.
Here are five signs to tell if the pickles have gone bad:
- Change of color.
- Change of taste.
- Change of smell.
- Bulging lids and bubbling in the jar.
- Change in brine/vinegar texture.
How Long Do Pickles Last (Refrigerated Or Not)?
The shelf life of the pickles is 1-2 years, even if you have opened the jar or not.
But, here’s a thing:
If you sense nothing strange in your 2 (plus) years old pickles, they are safe.
The acidic mixture such as brine or vinegar preserves pickles. So, the pickles should be completely fine till the point you find something wrong with them.
Can Old Pickles Make You Sick?
No, they will not! But if your pickles have become moldy, you can get sick. And the only way pickles get mold is through air exposure.
As long as your pickled veggies are submerged in brine completely, they are safe and secure.
What Do You Need To Make Pickles?
Here are the ingredients and making process of pickles:
- One pound of fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, summer squash, or green beans.
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of spices such as coriander, mustard seeds, or black peppercorns.
- Two sprigs of herbs such as rosemary, dill, or thyme (optional).
- One teaspoon of ground and dried herbs.
- Two cloves of garlic, sliced and smashed.
- 1 cup clean water.
- One cup vinegar (white, apple cider, rice).
- One tablespoon kosher salt or two teaspoons of pickling salt
- One tablespoon crushed sugar (optional)
- Prepare the jars: Wash and rinse two wide-mouth pint jars, rings, and lids with soapy water. And set them aside to dry.
- Cut the vegetables: Wash and dry the vegetables thoroughly. Then peel (don’t peel cucumber) and cut these veggies into desired sizes and shapes.
- Add herbs/spices and veggies: Add half of the herbs, spices, or garlic in one jar and half in the other. Now add all the veggies into jars and give them a gentle push downward. It is to squeeze them for better fermentation.
- Make the brine: Place a saucepan over high heat, add in the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Keep on stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt and bring it to a boil. Now pour this brine over veggies in the jar.
- Tap away the air bubbles: Slightly tap the pint jars on the countertop to remove the air bubbles. You can also add some more brine if needed.
- Tightly seal the jars: Now, cover the jars with lids and tightly screw the rings.
- Store in the fridge: Wait for the jars to cool at room temperature. Then store them in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 days for better results.
Is it bad to eat pickles every day?
Eating pickles every day can cause digestive issues. This will lead to stomach discomfort and gas in the alimentary canal.
Why do dill pickles go cloudy?
During fermentation, bacterial growth causes the brine to become cloudy. You can use pickling salts in pickles as regular salts might cause cloudiness.
How do you know if homemade pickles are safe?
If there is no leaking, bulging, or cracking of your pickled jar, it is safe. White foam on top of the jar shows that the pickle has spoiled.
Do pickles help you lose weight?
Yes, pickles are low in calories. So you can add them as a healthy snack to your diet. For example, a cup of dill pickles contains 17 calories.
What happens if you drink pickle juice every day?
Drinking pickle juice every day helps to lose weight. According to bioscience and biochemistry studies, drinking vinegar (pickle’s key ingredient) boosts healthy weight loss.