Do Pickles Go Bad?

Do pickles go bad? Pickles are often used as a side dish to savory meals, as a quick and healthy snack or as an ingredient to sandwiches, salads, and burgers. It’s made from cucumbers that have been submerged in a pickling solution. The pickling solution is made using vinegar, sugar, and spices. Generally, cucumbers have a short shelf life. But when submerged in the pickling solution, their shelf life doubles, and even triples!

Image used under Creative Commons from Stacy Spensley

Although pickles have a long shelf life, they will go bad at some point. Even if you carefully packed the pickles in storage, they will spoil unless you consumed these products right away. Store-bought pickles have a longer shelf life than homemade pickles. The shelf life of pickles will depend on many factors including the best-by-date, the preparation, as well as the way they are stored. As long as a jar of pickles is kept sealed after every use, the pickles will keep for a while.

How to Store Pickles?

Storing Pickles in the Pantry

This method is best for unopened or sealed jars of pickles. Pickles are supremely shelf stable thanks to the bacteria-resistant nature of the pickling brine. As long as the container is airtight and the storage environment is ideal, there is no reason why pickles should not last years in the pantry. And this goes for both store-bought and homemade pickles.

That being said, do not wait for years before consuming the pickles just to be on the safe side. There is no need to use a different container for the store-bought pickles but for homemade pickles, use a glass jar with a tight seal.

Store the pickles in a cool, dark, and dry place. Keep the pickles away from direct sunlight or sources of heat because these will shorten the shelf life of the pickles. As soon as the container of the pickles has been opened, store the pickles in the fridge.

Image used under Creative Commons from Rebecca Siegel

Storing Pickles in the Refrigerator

Storing pickles in the fridge is best for both unopened and opened containers of pickles. The chilly temps are perfect for extending the shelf life of the pickles. Just store the product in the coldest spot in the freezer and the pickles should remain safe to consume for years!

Shelf Life of Pickles

Unopened containers of pickles will keep in the pantry for at least a year. In the fridge, an opened container of pickles will keep for at least 2 years in storage. For maximum freshness and flavor, make sure the temperature is no less than 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the pantry. As soon as the jar of pickles are opened, store the pickles in the fridge.

How to Tell if the Pickles Have Gone Bad?

The aroma of the pickles alone will clue you in once the product has spoiled. Pickles have a pleasant, acidic aroma and the pickling brine is pale amber in color. If the pickles or the pickling brine is giving off a rancid odor, the pickles have spoiled. If the pickling brine has turned an odd shade, the pickles might have gone bad. If the pickles themselves lost their distinct crunch, the pickles are still safe to eat although they are no longer as enjoyable to eat.


Do pickles go bad? Although pickles are shelf-stable, they will go bad once they’ve been stored improperly. Always keep a jar of pickle sealed after every use. Keep the product away from sources of heat and light. Most importantly, check the best by date to determine the pickles’ peak of freshness.