Do Pickles Go Bad? 

All you ever wanted to know and all about strange odor

Written by Meredith Hayes. Updated on Do Pickles Go Bad

What Are Pickles?

When it comes to stocking foods, many housewives go for the pickling option: they either buy commercially made pickles or make those themselves.

However, people who are not familiar with food preservation, often ask what pickles actually are and whether they are the same as ordinary cucumbers.

Well, basically when we say pickles we mean cucumbers preserved in a special way. Nevertheless, it is possible to apply this method for keeping other raw foodstuffs, too, for instance, other veggies or even fruits.

It might be a surprising (or even shocking) fact but pickled cucumbers have been known for ages! The first mentions of such foodstuff come from Mesopotamia of 2030 B.C. where people used to preserve these veggies in vinegar and oil.

What is a pickle in fact? Well, not much has changed for the last thousand years. Today pickles are cucumbers treated in a special brine, acetum, or other solution, and left to ferment.

So if you were also wondering whether pickles and cucumbers are the same, then yes, they are.

Hanging upon the duration of fermentation and/or additional ingredients, this foodstuff can be of several kinds:

  1. Dill pickles. These, as it’s clear from the name, come being seasoned with dill, either fresh or in seeds or oil. Dill pickles have a recognizable half acidic half sour taste and are preserved in a brine. And yes, that’s the pickles we love so much in our sandwiches!
  2. Half sour. This kind of pickle cucumbers come in seasoned vinegar-free brine. If opened after the first
    six to eight weeks after pickling, they will be half-sours still having a taste of fresh veggies. However, later they will become the sour pickles that we all know so well.

Caper can be served as a great appetizer or a nosh for the savory and hot dishes. In some countries, preserved food has been popular for decades whereas in others it has become so widespread only recently.

Naturally, folks started wondering: how much time are gherkins usable for? Do they go bad?

If it is a point of concern for you, too, keep on reading because this article will give you replies to all the questions.

Off we go!

Why Consuming Pickles Is Good For Us

At first sight, caper can seem to be simply a tasty appetizer to add to some more nutritious dishes. However, this sort of food has its undeniable benefits.

11 Amazing Health Benefits of Pickles11 Amazing Health Benefits of Pickles

First of all, they include a very small amount of calories. Also, if the preserved foods are agitated, they can be very helpful when dealing with many diseases from insulin resistance to different inflammations.

Fermented food like Sauerkraut (reduses the risk of cancer), Yogurt (National Institute of Health), or Pickles reduses the risk of obesity.

What pickles do you like best of all?
I don't like pickles

But even though the style=”font-weight: 400;”>gherkins you eat regularly are not fermented, they still have lots of useful qualities, for example, they contribute a lot to the weight loss and the pickle juice is useful for muscle cramps and diabetes.

Consuming pickles regularly will let the body to intake more antioxidants and manage the electrolyte balance as well as Natalie Butler, R.D says.

Since gherkins and preserved food is so healthy and useful, everyone began to wonder how they can extend the lifespan of the agitated vegetables at home.

Well, let’s take a closer look at this issue.

How to Store Pickles?

A question that comes to mind first is how to stock this foodstuff if it is already preserved? This may indeed be tricky but don’t get fooled! Pickled cucumbers also need proper conditions for lasting to their longest.

  • The commercially sealed pickles can be left either in the refrigerator or in a cool shaded pantry/basement when still unopened. Direct light and heat are not the best friends of a jar filled with brine since these factors can cause the tank’s content to degrade.
  • Fully fermented foodstuff can stay edible for up to half a year if stored in the original tank refrigerated. However, if they are canned, it will prolong the lifespan and save quality.
  • Homemade unopened pickles can also go either to the fridge or to the pantry if they were sealed properly, of course.
  • Once we unseal the jar, always remove it to the fridge and close tightly, otherwise, the content will degrade way faster and you will have to discard it.
    It is better not to remove pickled cucumbers from their native tank but if for some reason you have to do this, pour the brine to the new container as well.

If everything is done correctly, your crunchy yummies will easily last for one or even two years past the expiry date.

It is even possible to freeze pickles, but if you decide to do that, consider that their crispness will decay within one or two months after defrosting.

Shelf Life of Pickles. Nuances and Specifics

how long are pickles good for
Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

To begin with, let us clarify the duration of caper shelf life.

How long do pickles last?

Normally, if they have been properly and tightly closed when being prepared, gherkins can stay eatable for two years at most past their expiry date, no matter whether you keep them cooled or in the pantry.

Can pickles expire?

They can, especially if they are being stored improperly under the wrong circumstances or the tanks were screwed not tightly enough and some air got inside causing the growth of harmful bacteria.

But these are not the only important facts one needs to know about the gherkins. To learn more, check out the following questions. Perhaps, you will find the answers you needed.

How often do you eat pickles?
Only in winter

Storing this appetizer may appear to be quite simple: why not just toss them onto the pantry shelf and forget about it?!

However, they requires far more careful treatment and maintenance.

How long are pickles good for?

It hangs upon whether they are crafted or purchased in a store.

preserve cucumbers in jar
Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

How long are homemade pickles good for?

Crafted capers are not that durable, in fact, since they are able to last for nearly sixty days. If they are kept longer, they will lose the crispness pretty fast. 

On the contrary, their counterpart from the shop is far more durable since it’s able to remain fresh for two years!

Many of us prefer preserving this appetizer exposed to cold and thus the most frequent question asked is “how long do refrigerated capers last?”

The matter is about the method the appetizer was produced with since made at home one will stay consumable for two months only whereas those from a store will be still ok to eat even after 12 months of storage.

Let us now check out some other issues which are useful to know when dealing with pickled veggies.

do pickles go bad

How long can pickles last unrefrigerated?

A closed jar, in case it’s closed tightly, will keep its content ready to eat for two years for sure. Once opened, this appetizer reduces its lifespan to 12 months or a bit less.

How long do opened pickles last?

Always keep an open jar with pickled veggies exposed to cold, otherwise, they’ll spoil very fast! When stored cooled, an opened appetizer is OK to enjoy for 12 months after unsealing them.

How long do opened pickles last
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Do leftover pickles need refrigeration?

Definitely! If we leave them outside exposed to air, warmth, and light, they’ll rot very soon.

How long do dill pickles last?

If the jar is closed, the appetizer will stay fresh and ready to consume for 24 months for sure.

Do pickles need to be refrigerated?

Another troublesome moment that bothers every pickle fan is the constant question: “do you have to cool caper?”

Indeed, many of us store them in our pantries and everything seems to be OK! So, to refrigerate or not refrigerate?

Do pickles have to be refrigerated after opening?

You’d better do it since they tend to rot really fast when exposed to air, sun, or warmth. Since molded pickle is not the best thing to taste, let them chill in the fridge for your own sake.

Do pickles have to be refrigerated after opening
Photo by angela pham on Unsplash

Do store-purchased pickles have to be refrigerated?

If the jar is still sealed, decide yourself. They’re OK to stay in the pantry anyway.

How long can pickles last frozen?

Six months is the longest term. After that time, they’ll start spoiling and losing the crispness.

What’s the homemade pickles refrigerator shelf life?

The best term of storage for these is four weeks at most.

How Long Do Pickles Keep After Opening?

Everyone knows that pickles are pretty long-lasting, but of course, even they can’t last forever. They can stay consumable as long as they are sealed in a jar. Once you open it, the countdown to their expiration date starts!  

Nevertheless, despite their long shelf life, you should know how long pickles can last after you open the jar. This way, you will avoid eating spoiled food that can be potentially hazardous and lead to food poisoning! According to USDA, any pickles should be stored in the fridge, submerged in brine, for at least up to three months to stay fresh after you open the jar. 

It is recommended to keep them in their native jar, but if it’s impossible for any reason, find a glass container with a tight lid or any rigid container that can be sealed with an airtight lid. Pour the brine into the new tank and keep your pickles in it in the fridge tightly sealed.

How long do pickles keep after opening
AndreySt via VistaCreate

How long do pickles last in the fridge?

If you are asking about the opened jar of them, then don’t stress. Once being opened, gherkins will stay consumable for one year or a year and a half at most keeping all of their qualities such as taste and flavor without changes.

cucumbers preserve

  • How long do canned pickles last?

Canned veggies last less than their counterparts in glass tanks. To enjoy their crispness, you’d better consume canned caper within half a year after they were bought. Also, ensure they are being stored in a cool and moisture-free place to protect them from premature rotting.

  • How long are pickles good for after opening?

Everything depends on what kind of pickled vegetables we are talking about and the place that they are being stored in.

For example, pickled peppers, corn or cabbage will stay edible for two years at most when being kept chilled. This is the strictly required rule for opened caper storing!

  • How long do pickles last out of the fridge?

Only gherkins pickles can stay out of the fridge! So, if it so happened that you decided to keep the tanks in the pantry, be sure that they will stay consumable for approximately two years if it is cool and dry there.

How to Tell If Pickles Have Gone Bad?

Pickles are actually pickled cucumbers, as everyone knows. And if it’s clear how long to store them pickled, you may still have questions about their shelf life if your cucumbers are still fresh.

Imagine you want to pickle them yourself to enjoy homemade pickles later. That’s a great idea, but how do you know if fresh cucumbers are still ok and can be used for pickling? There are several clear signs that will tell you this vegetable is not edible anymore:

  • Wrinkled skin 
  • Dents in cucumbers 
  • Mold
  • Softness

All these signs show that the cucumber is old and most likely gone bad. Sometimes, you may also notice discoloration of the skin. Finally, if there is visible mold, then your cucumbers must be discarded instantly! If a cucumber is moldy, do not attempt to cut off the moldy bit and eat the rest!

Besides, pickled cucumbers have almost the same spoilage signs. If you open the jar and you see mold or yellowness on pickles, they have already gone bad. Also, a sharp sour smell can be a sign of spoilage.

How to tell if pickles have gone bad
VadimVasenin via VistaCreate

How long do homemade pickles last unopened?

Caper made at home will be possible to consume within two years after they were made and screwed but only if the jars are closed properly and the storage surroundings are correct.

However, even when storing them correctly, they sometimes can turn bad and rot. In most of the situations, it happens because some mistakes were taken during the process of pickling (for example, some air could stay in the jar or got inside later because of the improperly screwed lid).

How Long Do Canned Foods Last?How Long Do Canned Foods Last?

Like with any other off food, your stomach will not thank you for eating bad caper!

That is why everyone needs to know how to define the bad caper from the good ones to prevent any foodborne diseases.

How to Tell If Pickles Are Bad

Shelf Life of Pickles
Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Many people start to panic when they notice some whites on the bottom of the jar. Calm down! It is an absolutely natural effect! But how do you know if preserved veggies have gone bad?

Consumable caper have a pleasant acidic aroma with the brine being light-amber in color.

On the contrary, bad ones have an off sour odor and the brine changes its color, too. And of course, if you notice any traces of mold, it is the significant sign of the caper rotting.


Discard them instantly without even trying to save.

Now that we know so much about the storage tricks, it would be useful to learn the basic signs of spoilage to protect ourselves from any unpleasant aftermath of consuming a rotten pickle.

Bad pickles are quite simple to identify since they look and they are smelled differently. An unpleasant sour stink and the signs of mold will be the direct symptoms of the appetizer turning bad.

pickle on the table

How long does it take pickles to spoil?

There’s no specific term, in fact. They can rot after a month or two of storage or last longer. Everything hangs upon the conditions and the way they were sealed.

Does pickle juice go bad, one may ask? Of course, it does, together with the pickles. There’s no chance that the juice stays drinkable when pickles are already off. 

How long does it take pickles to spoil
Photo by Reka Biro-Horvath on Unsplash

By the way, do dill pickles go bad? Unfortunately, they do, and it happens the same fast as with the other sorts of this appetizer.

Ways to Consume Pickles. Not Only Eating!

Can pickles expire
Photo by Alexander Duncan on Unsplash

Of course, the most obvious way to consume it is simply pulling them out of the jar and eating.

Some creative persons may even decorate the savory and hot dishes with the sliced pickles!

Nevertheless, this tasty snack can be used in many other approaches!

For example, they can be used for making sandwiches or as an ingredient for a salad, it will give the raw vegetables more piquant taste. And who said it is prohibited to use it for cold salads?!

Some people even use the pickle brine – for drinking, making lollypops (that’s true, don’t laugh!), and marinating meat. Some say that the brine is good for preparing martini, too. And finally, why not to use the pickles brine for a salad dressing? Both for fresh and cold salads.

How long do pickles last in the fridge
Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

As you can see, storing and looking after of pickles is not a big deal if doing it reasonably and being attentive and cautious.

Check the pickles now and then to see if they are doing well and, if noticing any suspicious signs of spoiling, double-check the jar and cast it away in case of spoilage.

We hope we managed to answer all the unexpected inquiries that could be asked regarding pickling. 

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐What water is the best for making pickles?

Even though some say that they use tap boiled water, and others swear that water from a spring is fine, the correct answer is only one: use distilled water when making pickled veggies at home since tap one is too harsh.

⭐Can I pickle two different types of veggies in the same tank?

Absolutely. Such a contact won’t harm both, moreover, such united pickling can give the brine more intense aroma and savor! You can find various pickling recipes that use two and even more sorts of vegetables.

⭐What sort of vinegar is good for pickling?

Indeed, a question of the day! We have plenty of kinds of vinegar today so no wonder that folks get confused. In fact, most recipes ask for the ordinary distilled white vinegar since it won’t affect the color of the veggies and its taste is mild.

⭐How to choose cucumbers for pickling correctly?

To get crispy pickled cucumbers, go for the freshest, blemishless, green, juicy, and firm veggies. Avoid waxed ones for pickling recipes since they won’t be properly penetrated by acid and salt, and the pickling process can go wrong.

⭐Is it safe to leave freshly pickled tanks in a pantry? What if they explode?

Well, such a possibility exists (however, they won’t literally explode, they’ll just blow up a bit), but only if something was done wrong during the pickling process. If your pickles stay ok for quite a long time, then they’ll hardly explode.

Written by
Meredith will assist you with your health and family problems. She is a professional therapist who has huge experience in the field of family health care.
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Are Pickles Bad For You? - 60 Second AnswerAre Pickles Bad For You? - 60 Second Answer