In our society today, pickles have become common in our day to day meals. The deliciously sour and crunchy taste is irresistible to many.
It really doesn’t matter whether you eat it alone, as an additive to the burger/sandwich or salad, the health benefits abound. However, most people are confused as to whether or not the pickles go bad, therefore, this article answers your question in details.
What are pickles?
In America, when you talk of pickles, their minds rush to the pickled cucumber. Although pickles refer to any pickled food or that which is preserved in either fermentation or brine and vinegar solution. The common pickled foodstuffs are vegetables albeit fruits, meats and eggs can be pickled too. Vinegar pickling is the most common method.
Our article, however, focuses on the American pickle which is basically pickled cucumber. While most people believe that it originated from India which the home of cucumbers, it’s hard to confirm this fact. History indicates the use of pickles began in Egypt then from there it found its way to the Mediterranean then Europe and the entire globe.
Do pickles go bad?
To answer this question, we must put into consideration the method of preparation, method of storage, the handling process, the best before date and mode of preservation used. Understand that preparing pickles is easy because you only need to Immerse the cucumber in brine water and vinegar to cook. Transfer to your clean jar and tightly cap it.
This will help enhance its taste since the process traps the good bacteria before bad ones invade it. It is also the role of the brine and vinegar to ferment the cucumber and thereby avoid the possibility of rotting. Therefore, if you followed the required fermentation procedure to the latter your pickles will not rot for a long while.
In short, when you compare pickles to other vegetables, its shelf life is up to 2 years. It is therefore correct to say that the specific duration of stay isn’t clear rather it all depends on a number of factors.
Exactly how long do pickles last?
This question depends on a number of factors but, the major factor is the storage method.
If you store your jar of opened pickles in the refrigerator they may stay fresh for up to a year. You can use it even after the expiry date indicated on the jar lapses as long as you practice proper storage or if the jar isn’t damaged and you don’t have any signs of its spoilage.
To ensure they stay longer leave your unopened jar of pickles at room temperature but once you open it, store in the refrigerator.
In summary, regardless of whether the jar is open or not under proper storage the pickles may take a year or two after the indicated expiry date. However, you may shorten the lifespan tremendously if you use your hands to pick the pickles as opposed to a fork.
How to know whether your pickles are still in good shape
Note that, your pickles container will show the expiry date but that doesn’t necessarily mean the pickles are spoilt. They can stay edible for years even after the expiry date especially if you are keen on your mode of storage.
Nothing lasts forever though and pickles are not an exception. At some point, they too get spoilt and harmful to eat. So, how can you tell whether you have spoilt pickles?
Be keen on the best by date on the jar. It is safer to use it if it is still within the window of best by date. You may have to use your instincts and knowledge after that date lapses.
Your jar could be a good indicator of the state of your pickles. If the cap/lid is dome shaped and not flat, it could indicate the fact that you have spoilt pickles. Fresh pickles have the jar lid being flat.
Check their colour, if the pickles have some black or brown spots or you have discoloured brine solution, you need to be cautious because they could be spoilt.
Take a keen look at your pickles, if they look fresh and crunchy keep them but if they look soggy and wilted it’s time to discard them. Use your hands too to feel the texture while you check for the possible presence of moulds.
Your sense of smell will also guide you. Its original smell is sour so if it is far from that and seem to repulse you, throw them away.
Lastly, make use of your taste buds. If you can bite a piece to taste, check for its crunchiness. However, if it is slimy, soggy and disgusting in your mouth it may be spoilt as well. To be on the safe side, spit it off and rinse your mouth with clean water as you drink some more.
The storage method of the pickles determines the shelf life.
But how do you ensure safe storage?
- Make use of plastic can/jar
Choose your food quality plastic containers for the storage. Do ensure that they don’t have any odour that could affect your pickles fragrance. Never use aluminium, brass or copper containers. For quick pickling leave your jar on the counter.
- Use a sterilized jar
To be safe with your homemade pickles, take your jar and place in hot water or fill it with water then place in a microwave to heat. Drain off the water and dry the jar then place your pickles and vinegar-brine solution in the jar and cap it. Either leave it on the counter or store in the refrigerator.
If you already opened the can it is advisable to refrigerate as opposed to leaving it on the counter. Refrigeration increases the lifespan although if the pickles stay in the fridge for more than 2 years, it must expire.
What you should know about pickles
Pickles contain the vital vitamin C that fights scurvy. No wonder, the ship sailors who were using it in the ancient days never suffered from scurvy disease even when they were on long sails.
Most people worry that they are consuming too much acid from the vinegar but this brine vinegar solution is balanced. The brine solution is known to kill the nauseating feeling. Be careful though that you don’t use a lot of pickles because it may end up making you sickly. Brine will also settle your upset stomach.
Pickles are both vegetables and fruits. The good news is the debate as to whether pickles are vegetables or fruits doesn’t alter their method of preparation. They are mostly prepared as vegetables and planted as fruits. The savoury taste makes it suitable for addition on vegetable dishes and salads.
Health benefits of consuming pickles
Since you already know the shelf life of your pickles you need to know the benefits of making it a vital part of your diet.
- It contains vitamin C and A which is good to boost your immune system and keep you healthy.
- Iron is good for the oxygenation of your blood. Whenever you are feeling tired, taking a pickle will make you active because it will send oxygenated blood to your brain.
- Zinc helps heal your skin issues. If you have acnes, the zinc and water found in the pickle will make your skin be youthful.
- Vitamin K and folate help with the nervous system development.
- Pickles are antioxidants that help protect your body against the radical damage.
- The probiotics in your pickles help you have easy food breakdown in your gut. Fermentation pickles are the best for this attribute.
- The control of diabetes by vinegar used in the preparation and preservation purpose is essential. Furthermore, the vinegar improves one’s haemoglobin level.
- The digestion is enhanced by the pickle’s Ayurvedic property. It also strengthens your gut mucous membrane and thereby preventing ulcers formation.
The ideas for using the pickles
Note that you can use your pickles as ingredients to vast meals. You can also use it to:
- Make toppings for your burger or meat sandwich
- Make salads or eat it
- Make pickled eggs by reusing the brine solution and boiled eggs
- It can work as a base for your relish
- As long as your brine solution is still in a good state, you can reuse it
- You can make your pickle sandwich
Pickles as you can see is an essential part of your diet but one should always make sure they use it in moderation. It may cause hypertension and heart disease because of the high sodium content and the use of excess oil increases the body cholesterol level among others.
Since the pickles contain high acidity, you risk wearing your teeth enamel away while receding your gums. Therefore, find ways to balance the acidity in your mouth by either drinking a lot of alkaline water or using cheese. This will balance the PH.
Pickles are among the few foodstuffs that you can use way after the expiration date if you are keen on your storage process. While this is the case, caution is paramount if you don’t want to poison your family so, practice food safety at all times.
I assume you now know the answer to out topic question and you can make your pickles last longer by handling them hygienically and focusing on the storage. It is better to make your own pickles at home since you ensure you use healthy ingredients without more additives.