Have you ever wondered why you put your favorite dill pickles in the fridge even though you bought it off a shelf?
Most jars say, “refrigerate after opening”, but why is that?
You’re probably thinking that the salty brine should help preserve it.
Pickles used to be kept in barrels in the cellar, so do you really have to refrigerate them now?
The answer is: yes, you usually do! Pasteurized foods should always be refrigerated after opening.
If you want to learn a little bit more about why refrigerated dill pickles last longer, then continue reading.
We’ll answer all your questions about brining, shelf-life, and proper food storage of dill pickles.
What Are Dill Pickles?
Pickles add a delicious crunch to burgers, sandwiches, and savory meals.
They offer a balance between salty, sweet, and tangy.
A pickle is a cucumber that has been placed in an acidic brine and fermented in an air-tight container until they grow sour.
They’re normally made from pickling cucumbers, but any vegetable can be pickled. The brine usually consists of salt, vinegar, sugar, other spices, and boiled water.
Dill pickles are just like normal pickled cucumbers, but have dill added to the brine!
They are also sometimes called “kosher” dill pickles, as they’re made in the same style as Jewish kosher delis in New York City.
Dill pickles are surprisingly good for you!
The fermentation process creates probiotics, which are good bacteria that help with digestion.
They also offer a lot of Vitamin A and K, which help your cells grow and blood clot properly.
Do note, however, store-bought pickles have a high sodium content and are pasteurized, therefore losing their probiotic content.
There are more health benefits when you pickle your own cucumbers versus buying them.
How Long Do Dill Pickle Last?
Check the best-by date labelled on the jar to get a rough estimate of how long your pickles will last.
Unopened pickles will generally stay good for months, even past the date they claim.
The shelf-life of pickles doesn’t vary that much based on the type of pickled vegetable it is, however, make sure you pay attention to what kind of pickling process was used.
If stored unproperly, certain pickle processes are prone to spoil more quickly.
Keep on reading below to find out the difference between pasteurized and unpasteurized pickles, and how to store them properly.
Do I Really Need to Refrigerate My Dill Pickles?
For us to answer this question, you need to inspect your pickles.
It’s important to find out whether your pickles are pasteurized or not.
If they’re store-bought from the dry foods section, then they most likely are.
Pasteurization is the process where food is heated to a certain temperature to kill any bacteria and extend its shelf-life.
We normally hear about pasteurization when it involves dairy and eggs, but most of the food in the grocery store has undergone this process.
Food can last a lot longer now because of pasteurization.
People used to risk death just by drinking days old water!
Luckily, we don’t have to deal with that problem today.
So, because our foods are now being pasteurized, they can sit out on grocery store shelves at room temperature without spoiling.
The bacteria are killed so there is no more fermentation happening.
If your pasteurized pickle jar is unopened, then all you need to do is place it in a cabinet away from sunlight and heat.
Once you open the jar though, it needs to go in the fridge.
This is why you can find pickle jars out on shelves but their label reads, “refrigerate after opening”.
Now what about when your pickles are unpasteurized?
What are you supposed to do then?
These pickles are the ones that you find in the refrigerated section of the store.
The bacteria haven’t been killed off and the fermentation process is still going strong.
If you happen to leave the jar out at room temperature, then the fermentation will quicken, and you’ll end up with really sour pickles.
In order to slow souring process down, you need to refrigerate these kinds of pickles.
Storing Dill Pickles
The most important item you need to successfully store pickles is an airtight container.
As previously said, if the pickles are pasteurized, then you should store unopened jars in a dark and cool cabinet, and opened ones in the fridge.
Unpasteurized pickle jars need to be placed immediately in the fridge.
Always make sure you tighten the lid properly after you’ve opened the jar.
Glass containers with a tight-fitting lid are the best way to store your dill pickles.
Try not to buy pickles that have been placed in plastic, as it’s not guaranteed to be airtight.
Can Dill Pickles Go Bad?
If you don’t properly store your pickles, then you run the risk of them spoiling.
Keep your lids tightly sealed, and make sure to keep all your pickles submerged in the brine, otherwise they’ll dry out and their taste will change.
Typically, your dill pickles will last for months.
But if their smell or color change at all, then it might be time to throw them out.
Pickles have a pleasing, acidic odor and the brine is lightly golden.
White sediment at the bottom of the jar is normal.
If the pickles are discolored and mushy, or there’s foam when you open the jar, then you should toss them!
Smell is the biggest giveaway on whether pickles are still fresh, so pay attention to that.
Can You Freeze Dill Pickles?
Are you worried that you won’t eat through all your pickles before they spoil?
Why not try freezing them!
Surprisingly, freezing pickles keeps them crunchy and they can last up to a year!
All you need to do is transfer the pickles from the glass jar to a plastic container.
Only tempered glass is safe in the freezer, and even then, it can break if there’s not enough room to expand. Stick with plastic when freezing.
When you’re ready to eat your pickles, stick them in the fridge to thaw for a day, and then serve.
Refrigerated dill pickles can last for months once they’re thawed out.
Polish dill pickle vs Kosher dill pickle
The terms kosher and Polish dill pickle denote to the spices and seasonings that are used in pickles processing.
kosher pickles mean pickles that have been produced as per Jewish laws.
Polish pickles refer a type of dill pickles mentions to its flavor. It doesn’t refer country of origin.
Polish and dill pickles are same in preparation. So, it is difficult to differentiate from each other until you taste them.
Kosher dills are made with garlic whereas polish dill pickles are generally made with more spices than kosher dills.
Polish dills more peppery and sometimes flavoured with mustard seeds.
Why did the liquid in dill pickles turn out pink?
If you used overmatured dill, the liquid in dill pickles turn pink.
But it is still safe to consume. Sometime it happens because of yeast growth. If yeast growth is apparent, don’t use the pickles.
Can you process fermented dill pickles in a water bath to ensure a longer storage life?
Yes, you can process fermented dill pickles in a water for a longer storage life.
The National Centre for Home Food Preservation recommends low temperature pasteurization for fermented pickles.
In this process, you can put them in a 180F water bath for 30 minutes. This helps to prevent softening the pickles throughout the cooking.
But they should have finished fermenting before this as the pasteurization will halt the fermentation process.