Do Pickles Go Bad? How Long Do Pickles Last?

Pickles are a delicious and very popular food to enjoy. You might be wondering how long your pickles are going to last; read on to find out!

Quick Answer

No matter how you keep your pickles, they will eventually go bad.

  • Pasteurized, unopened pickles are the only type that do not need to be kept in the fridge. Once opened, pickles will keep for up to three months in the fridge or a year in the freezer.
  • There is no one way to keep pickles that is necessarily better.
  • Follow the instructions on the pickle jar to determine how to keep the pickles for longest shelf life. Pickles will typically last for one to two years past the expiration date if left unopened.

The way that you store your pickles, along with whether they are pasteurized or not, will affect their storage life. Let’s explore some of the different ways that pickles are stored to demonstrate this.

Do Pickles Go Bad? How Long Do Pickles Last?

Pickles will last for anywhere from a few months to a couple of years if stored correctly, regardless if they are pasteurized or not. Depending on your circumstances, you might choose to keep your pickles in one of the following ways.

How Long Do Pickles Last Outside?

If your pickles are pasteurized, they will be easier to keep outside as they don’t need to exist in a temperature-controlled environment. If you have shelf-stable pickles, just make sure that they aren’t exposed to excessive heat or direct sunlight. Keeping them in your garage, for example, would be a good idea.

If your pickles are unpasteurized, things become a bit trickier. The bacteria in unpasteurized pickle brine is still alive; this isn’t a dangerous thing, but it does mean that the pickles need to be kept at fridge-temperature. If you live in a cold climate, you can keep unpasteurized pickles outside. Just make sure temperatures don’t drop below freezing, and keep them out of heat and direct sunlight.

As with most foods, it’s probably best if you can keep your pickles in a pantry or the fridge (depending, once again, on if they’re pasteurized or not). But if you don’t have any room and need somewhere to put your pickles, the outside can work as long as conditions are right. Just be sure to keep an eye on how they’re doing and bring them inside if temperatures start swinging high or low. They can last for one to two years this way.

How Long Do Pickles Last in the Fridge?

Only unpasteurized and opened pasteurized pickles need to be kept in the fridge. This is because the bacteria used to ferment the pickles is still present in the jar, and that bacteria needs to be kept cold to keep the fermenting process slow enough to make your pickles last. If your pickles are pasteurized, they don’t need to be kept cold.

If you don’t open your jar of unpasteurized pickles, they will last for up to three months. This is technically a “best by” date, so it’s more of a suggestion than a rule. However, to keep your pickles tasting great and in good condition, it’s best to use them up within ninety days.

Once you open up your jar of pickles, you can expect them to last a little longer. They will last for at least three months; after this, it’s important to keep a close eye on your pickles to make sure they don’t turn bad.

How Long Do Pickles Last in the Freezer?

Pickles aren’t really a food that’s meant to be kept in the freezer. Doing so won’t necessarily compromise their safety, but it can cause a decline in their quality. Pickles last plenty long when kept on the shelf or in the fridge, so freezing shouldn’t really be necessary.

However, if you insist on freezing your pickles, it can be done. Pickles that are thrown into the freezer can last for up to a year; however, keep in mind that the longer you keep most foods in the freezer, the higher the likelihood the food will decline in quality.

The brine in the pickle jar can also freeze just fine, so there’s no need to try to separate the juice from the pickles before putting them in the freezer.

Now you know all about how long pickles will last outside, in the fridge, and in the freezer. Let’s move on to talking about how to tell if your pickles have gone sour.

How to Tell if Your Pickles Have Gone Bad?

Even though your pickles can last for a decent amount of time when stored properly, they will eventually turn sour if not consumed. Here are some ways that you can tell if your pickles have gone bad and need to be thrown out. As always, when in doubt, throw it out.

Check to see if the pickles are fully submerged: In order to stay nice and crisp, pickles need to be kept fully submerged in the brine. This is regardless of what kind or in what cut they are. If any part of a pickle isn’t submerged in the brine, it will deteriorate pretty quickly.

Check the lid: If you don’t seal your pickle jar properly after opening it, they can go bad pretty quickly. If you take your pickle jar out of storage and notice that the lid is risen or dome-shaped instead of flat, then the pickles have gone bad and need to be thrown out.

Visual signs: If your pickles have grown mold or any other unwanted growth, they’ve definitely gone bad. Even if only one or a few pickles have these issues and the rest appear fine, throw the whole jar away. If the color of the brine changes noticeably, then the pickles have gone bad. White sediment at the bottom of your pickle jar is no need for worry; this is perfectly normal.

Smell: As with most foods, pickles that have gone bad will have a sour smell. While pickles will naturally smell pretty strong, the smell should be acidic rather than sour. If anything seems unfamiliar or otherwise off, discard the pickles.

How Should You Store Pickles?

You know that you can keep your pickles in the fridge or freezer for so long, and how to tell if they have gone bad. Now, let’s talk about how to make sure you’re storing them in the correct way.

Keep the jar sealed tight: If you don’t seal your pickle jar correctly after opening it, the pickles inside will go bad pretty quickly. No matter whether they’re pasteurized or unpasteurized, keep that jar sealed tight.

Avoid exposing unpasteurized pickles to high temperatures: Unpasteurized pickles are not meant to be kept out of cold temperatures. Put them into the fridge as soon as possible when you’re finished with them, and keep them there until you’re ready to use them again.

How to Freeze Pickles?

We established above that you can in fact freeze pickles even if it isn’t really necessary, so how do you do it? Let’s talk about it so that you know exactly how to keep your pickles in perfect condition for months.

Keep it sealed: Just like if you were keeping the pickles on the shelf or in the fridge, make sure the jar you’re keeping them in is kept sealed tight. Even in the freezer, your pickles can go bad if the jar isn’t sealed properly.

No need to transfer containers: If your pickles are store-bought or were otherwise received in a glass jar, there’s no need to transfer them to a different container. They’ll do just fine in the container they came in when you put them in the freezer.

Label: Write the date you put the pickles down, either on the jar itself or somewhere you’ll remember. This way, when you pull your pickles out of the freezer five months later, you’ll remember that it’s been five months and not seven.

How Do You Thaw Pickles?

Now that you know how to freeze your pickles, it’s time to learn how to thaw them back out again when you’re ready to consume them.

When you’re ready to consume your frozen pickles, take them out of the fridge 24 hours before you want to use them. You can’t really thaw pickles in the microwave or on the stove, so putting them in the fridge is the best way.

After you thaw out your pickles, if you end up having leftovers, you can keep them in the fridge. Thawed pickles will last for about as long as regular unpasteurized pickles do in the fridge, but will see a decline in quality after about one to two months.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pickles’ Shelf Life

Even after reading all of this information, you might still have questions about your bacon and its shelf life. We’ll answer a couple of common questions here.

What about homemade pickles? Homemade pickles should be treated the same as store-bought pickles. If your homemade pickles are pasteurized, keep them on the shelf and then refrigerate them after opening. If they’re unpasteurized, keep them in the fridge both before and after opening.

If I didn’t seal my pickles properly, are they instantly bad? No. It isn’t advisable to leave your pickles improperly sealed because it drastically reduces their shelf life, not because the pickles will go bad in just a couple of hours. As long as you put your pickles in the fridge right away, they’ll be okay. Just try not to forget to seal them properly.

Wrap Up

Pickles are a great option to have around for a simple snack or side dish. With this information handy, you’ll be ready to store all the pickles you’ll ever need like a pro. Remember to keep those pickles away from high temperatures and keep the jar nice and tight! If you do, you could enjoy your pickles for up to three months or even a year!

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