How long do Homemade Pickles last?

How long do Homemade Pickles last?

If you're anything like me, you just can't get enough of those delightfully crunchy, tangy pickles! Whether it's a jar of mango pickles to liven up the simple dal-chawal or a batch of classic dill pickles for burger night, I always have multiple jars of pickles stocked in my kitchen.

But have you ever opened up a jar, only to be greeted by an off-putting smell? As much as we'd like to believe pickles would last us forever with their mighty preservation powers, the sad truth is that even our beloved achaar has a shelf life.

So how long can you keep homemade pickles around before they spoil? The answer depends on whether we're talking about canned, shelf-stable pickles or the refrigerator kind. Allow me to explain the difference:

Canned or Jarred Pickles

These are the pickles that get the full-on canning treatment of being heated, sealed in jars, and undergoing water bath processing. Thanks to this heat processing, any bacteria gets killed off. Unopened jars can then sit pretty on your pantry shelf for years!

However, for optimal flavour and crunch, it's best to eat up these shelf-stable pickles within 1 year of canning. Exposure to light or temperature extremes while stored can hasten the decline in quality over time.

Once you pop open one of these bad boys, be sure to refrigerate it. From then on, it's just like having a big jar of refrigerated pickles!

Refrigerator Pickles

Unlike the latter, these pickles are not heat-treated for shelf stability. Instead, they rely on constant cold temperatures (and lots of vinegar!) to stay fresh.

Typically, you can expect homemade refrigerator pickles to maintain their quality for 3-4 weeks in the fridge. After that, you'll likely notice the brine turning cloudy and the pickles losing their satisfying crunch as they soften up. Sturdier veggies like cucumbers and carrots tend to hold up better than delicate ones.

For store-bought refrigerated pickles, you may get 2-3 months out of them. But for the absolute best flavour and texture, it's wise to polish them off within those first 2-4 weeks.

Factors Affecting Shelf Life

  1. Ingredients- Salt, vinegar, and spices impact how long pickles keep. More salt and vinegar act as preservatives for extended freshness. The specific blend of spices can also contribute antimicrobial benefits.  
  2. Brine Strength- The power of the vinegar-salt brine solution is crucial. A brine with higher acidity creates a more hostile environment for bacteria growth and spoilage.
  3. Sanitation- Keeping things clean and sterilised is crucial. Any presence of bacteria or wild yeasts can contaminate pickles rapidly. Proper sanitation prevents early spoilage.
  4. Storage Conditions- How pickles are stored makes a difference. Cooler temperatures below room temp slow ageing. Minimising light exposure prevents oxidation and nutrient degradation.

How to determine if your pickles are no longer safe to consume? 

No matter which kind of pickles you have, there are some clear signs that they've gone bad and need to be tossed:

  • Cloudy, discoloured brine
  • Soft, mushy pickle texture
  • Surface mould or white scum forming
  • Rotten, off-putting smell
  • The brine fizzing and the lid bulging outward

The fizzy brine is often the first giveaway that it's time to trash your pickles. While a little fizz is normal for fermented pickles like half-sours, anything bulging or oozing shouldn't be eaten.

Best ways to prevent pickles from getting spoiled 

To get the longest shelf life possible out of your homemade pickles:

  • Use a natural vinegar brine with 5% acidity and equal parts vinegar-to-water.
  • Fully immerse the veggies in the brine with as little air exposure as possible.
  • Refrigerate promptly and always use clean utensils when scooping.
  • Consume the pickles as soon as possible for peak flavour and crunch!


So there you have it, pickle lovers! With these simple guidelines in mind for canned versus refrigerator pickles, you can keep enjoying your tangy, briny batches for as long as possible. No more asking "Does pickle go bad?" - just make a new batch or order a new set of homemade pickles from our Farmdidi online store when they start losing their zing!

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