If pickling is one of the methods of preserving certain food items, why do stores have refrigerated pickles?
There is a reason why stores keep jars of pickles in the refrigerator. Pickles should stay refrigerated to prevent bacterial growth, spoilage, overfermentation, and excessive sourness.
Although you’re pickling cucumbers, peppers, and other food items to preserve them, you should know that pickles can also go bad. Therefore, you have to preserve them properly.
This article explains why you should keep your pickles refrigerated and how long they can last in the refrigerator.
What are pickles?
Pickles can be any vegetable, fruit, or meat stored in a liquid, acidic or salty solution to preserve it.
But, here in America, you know that pickles majorly refer to pickled cucumbers. Still, as said earlier, pickles can be more than just cucumbers.
Pickling started as a way to preserve cucumbers and other vegetables for a long period. These food items are kept in jars or barrels in vinegar or brine solutions. The solution largely determines the taste of the pickles.
For instance, pickles made with vinegar will taste acidic, while pickles made in a salt solution will taste salty. Also, pickles can be pasteurized or not. The store-bought varieties go through the process of pasteurization, while the homemade ones do not.
There are a lot of ways to use pickles. You can either eat them as a stand-alone snack, as a side dish, add them to sandwiches or burgers, chop them for potato or egg salad, as pizza toppings, add the juice to Bloody Mary, fry them, or add them to a BLT.
Do pickles need to be refrigerated?
Yes, they need to. However, refrigerating pickles largely depends on the method of preparation, how you bought them, and how soon you plan to use them.
If you bought cans or jars of pickles from the refrigeration aisle at the grocery store, you should keep them that way. And this is regardless of whether store-bought pickles have gone through pasteurization.
On the other hand, if you got the pickles from the shelves, you may keep them out of the refrigerator as long as you have not opened them.
Open jars of pickles – store-bought or not – should be refrigerated to preserve the food items from going bad. If you are not refrigerating pickles (pasteurized and unopened), you should store the jars under certain conditions.
Keep them away from sunlight, the temperature of the room should be between 30°F to 50°F, and humidity should not be lower than 80% to 90%.
Why should pickles be refrigerated?
You should refrigerate pickles to keep them fresh.
Outside the refrigerator, homemade and unpasteurized pickles will not last long.
If they stay out for too long, the pickles may become over-fermented, too sour, and develop mucus. Refrigerating pickles is the best way to maximize their shelf life.
Additionally, storing pickles in the refrigerator does more than preserve them. It helps to maintain the flavor, aroma, taste, and crunch of the food items.
Moreover, the temperature in the refrigerator creates a perfect environment for storing pickles.
Should quick pickles be refrigerated?
Yes, they should.
If you want to keep your quick pickles or quickles longer than two weeks, keep them tightly sealed in the refrigerator.
Quickles are homemade pickles that are made in a short time and with less effort. They are made this way in small quantities for quick consumption.
Should you refrigerate homemade pickles?
Yes, you should.
Homemade pickles do not go through the process of pasteurization, which stops fermentation and kills bacteria.
As a result, they are not shelf stable and cannot last long outside the refrigerator. Therefore, you should keep homemade pickles in the refrigerator to maximize their shelf life.
Should canned pickles be refrigerated?
Canned pickles may be refrigerated or not, depending on how you bought them and the method of preparation.
If you bought canned pickles from the refrigeration aisle at the store, keep them in the refrigerator. Otherwise, you can store them on shelves. Moreover, you should keep open cans of pickles in the refrigerator to keep them fresh and in good condition.
Should you refrigerate dill pickles?
Yes, you should refrigerate dill pickles once you open the jar or can.
Also, if you have unpasteurized dill pickles, you mustn’t leave them at room temperature for too long.
Unopened pasteurized dill pickles can stay out of the refrigerator for as long as they remain sealed.
Should you refrigerate sweet pickles?
Yes, you should.
Sweet pickles are still pickles, although they have a sweet taste (as the name implies), unlike the conventional acidic or salty taste.
Keep them refrigerated if they have not gone through the pasteurization process and if you have opened the can or jar.
Should you refrigerate Kosher pickles?
Yes, you should.
Keep kosher pickles in the refrigerator if they are unpasteurized and if they have been opened.
Should you refrigerate Mt. Olive pickles?
Mt. Olive pickles and every other store-bought pickles should go back into the refrigerator on the condition that you bought them chilled and you have opened the jars.
Should you refrigerate fermented pickles?
Fermented pickles do not go through pasteurization; therefore, you should refrigerate them.
Whether you have opened the cans of fermented pickles or not, keep them in the refrigerator.
However, if you prefer the sourness of fermented pickles, you may leave them unrefrigerated. But use them quickly before they become too sour, acidic, and mushy.
Also, when fermentation continues for too long, the pickles may develop mucus and taste unappetizing.
Will pickles go bad if left unrefrigerated?
Not every pickle will go bad if you do not refrigerate it.
If the pickles have gone through pasteurization and remain unopened, you can keep them for 1 to 2 years.
On the flip side, keeping open unpasteurized pickles unrefrigerated can trigger spoilage, especially if you kept them out for too long.
How do you know pickles have gone bad?
If you suspect that your pickles have gone bad, check for any of these signs:
- A bulging lid (a sign that bacterial action has produced gases)
- An off-color
- A foul smell
- Presence of mold growth
Watch out for any of these signs in both refrigerated and unrefrigerated pickles. If you notice any, trash the jar or can of pickles and avoid the risk of food poisoning.
How long do pickles last?
The shelf life of pickles depends on factors like the method of preparation and storage.
Store-bought pickles will last longer than homemade pickles because they go through pasteurization which helps to extend their shelf life. Also, refrigerated pickles last longer than unrefrigerated pickles.
Should you refrigerate bread and butter pickles?
Yes, you should. Bread and butter pickles are pickles and are not shelf stable or pasteurized. Therefore, you should keep the pickles refrigerated to get the most out of them.
Can you freeze pickles?
Yes, you can. Apart from refrigerating, freezing is another way to preserve pickles long-term. After thawing, you can keep them in the refrigerator for months.
Should you refrigerate Oh Snap pickles?
Yes, you should. Store Oh Snap pickles in the refrigerator if you plan to keep them beyond a few hours.
Should you refrigerate Vlasic pickles?
Vlasic pickles can stay out of the refrigerator until you open the jars.
This brand of pickles contains brine and vinegar, which makes them shelf-stable for a long time.
However, once you open a jar or can of Vlasic pickles, store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh for a longer period.
Pickles should be refrigerated. If you bought them chilled from the store, keep them that way, open or unopen. If you bought pickles that were kept on shelves, you can keep them unrefrigerated until you open them.
When you open pickles, homemade or store-bought, keep them in the refrigerator. In the refrigerator, open jars of pickles will last up to a month, and unopen jars will last 1 to 2 years.
Most importantly, make sure that the pickles were prepared correctly and hygienically. Also, wherever you’re storing your pickles, ensure that the conditions (temperature and humidity) are right.
Thanks for reading.
Visit Cheffist to read articles that provide information on food preservation and storage methods.