Pickles are a controversial food topic for many people. After all, it seems like folks either love ’em or hate ’em, nothing in between! And while it’s a common belief that pickles last forever, even these delicious vegetables go bad after a certain point.
It’s true pickles can last a good, long time, though, whether you leave them in your pantry or your fridge if they’re kept somewhere dark and in an airtight container. In fact, most pickles are perfectly safe to eat for one to two years after their best-by dates thanks to the fermentation process. But of course, all good things come to an end, and that includes your pickles. Here are a few major ways to tell if it’s time to chuck ’em in the trash before you accidentally get yourself sick.
The pickles themselves are moldy.
If you see something fuzzy or off-colored on even a single one, it could be a sign that the whole jar is going bad. Don’t take the risk and let everything in the container swim around in a moldy brine. Toss them.
The brine and food texture, color, or consistency has changed.
When they’re fresh, pickle brine is a brighter green and almost oil-like in viscosity. If you notice that your jar is duller in color and that the liquid is more watery, it’s time for the jar and its contents to go. The same goes if you notice that the pickles themselves are starting to get soft or turn a few shades duller than normal.
The metal lid is bulging or the jar is bubbling.
If you notice that your container lid is starting to bulge, you might have some built-up gas and other potential issues to watch out for. The same goes for if you start to notice your fermenting brine bubbling up over time. In both cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry and take that jar to the trash.
The jar or pickles have an off odor.
While pickles tend to have a relatively mild smell, if you notice that the odor is strongly rancid or rotten, it may be time to throw out that batch.
The good news, though, is that you have a few years to enjoy those pickles before they start going bad, so take advantage of that!