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How to tell if Pickles are bad

How to tell if Pickles are bad

Last Updated on 20th June 2023 by

Pickles are healthy foods that help prevent an increase in calories, avoid blood pressure, and prevent the risk of spleen cancer. Additionally, pickles help to preserve food longer by the use of vegetables, spices, and fruits.

Pickles help ease your digestion since they have very helpful bacteria that help speed up the digestion process. They are also a great solution to pregnant women who have uncontrollable morning sickness by reducing nausea and vomiting.

Nutritional Label on a Jar of Pickles

You will need to be careful when taking pickles to avoid consuming those that are expired. Make sure you read the signs discussed below carefully to guide you on how to tell if pickles are bad before eating them.  Did you know you can also fry pickles?  

Can Pickles Go Bad?

Pickles can go bad but if your pickles are refrigerated and stored in a jar, they will last around 2 years. The reason for this is that pickles are put through a ‘pickling’ process. Cucumbers are soaked and boiled in brine (salt water) and then tightly sealed in a jar – creating pickles.

So do pickles expire?

In short, if you open a jar of pickles and store them correctly (in a sealed jar, in the refrigerator), you will be able to keep your pickles for up to two years. If you open your pickles and don’t store them correctly, the pickles will expire and go bad relatively quickly like most foods.  Keep them stored in a cool dark cupboard, sealed and fully submerged in their pickling juice.   You can also try using pickles that are about to expire by turning them into pickles salsa.

Expiry Date on a Jar of Pickles

6 Signs that Indicate Pickles are Bad

1. Bad smell

This is one sigh that will help you on How to Tell if pickles Are Bad. This is a sign that fermentation is in the process. Fermented pickles are dangerous to your health so, you will have to throw all the jars with a foul smell.

Fermentation in pickles is allowed, but the rancid smell that comes with it is a clear indication that harmful bacteria are present. In case you feel the bad smell from the pickles jar, do not try to eat them as long as there is an unpleasant smell. It can cause more harm to your body. Label the date you made your pickles to be able to select out those that have reached the expiry date.

2. Bubbling in the Jar and Bulging Lids

If you see bubbles in the canning jars and no one has shaken them, then this is a red tick on how to tell if pickles are bad. Also, the presence of bulging lids in the storage room indicates danger since the pickles stored inside such a jar have already been opened. Too much acid in the pickles creates pressure, and if the pot cannot hold this pressure, it will have to burst.

In case your doctor advised you to take pickles for your health, then this day you will have to prepare fresh ones. Do not use acidic ingredients as they will make your pickles burst again. The same case applies if you find your storage jar has a broken seal, do not take the pickles inside. They can make your health worse so, just throw away all jars that are not in the perfect shape.

3. Change of Colour

This is an automatic way on how to tell if pickles are bad. The change of colour indicates danger since fungus must be present. In case you are in doubt, confirm by checking in the pickles are bright. If they are dull and soft, throw all the jars with similar effect away.

Make sure as you throw the jars away; no child can have access to it. You can dig a pit and cover them or have the trash collectors pick them immediately. Small children love playing with such jars, and it is dangerous for them to eat what they find inside. Therefore, as you cater to your health, make sure that you do not pollute the environment in the process.

If you realise that the pickles have formed a lining on top, empty your storage room immediately by discarding them appropriately. Fresh pickles have no coating despite what kind of ingredient you have used.

4. Change in Vinegar/ Brine Texture

This is another great way on how to tell if pickles are bad. It can be challenging to tell the texture of brine or vinegar, but if you pay closer attention, you will notice. When you are preserving these pickles, the fluid inside the jar is always thick.

In case you find the fluid is suddenly thin and water-like, that’s an indication that there is a problem. Do not take the pickles rather throw them away. This will save you from getting your body to more problems. Did you know that you can use your about to expire pickles to create some delicious pickle dip.

5. Change in Taste

Have you been wondering how to tell if pickles are bad? You just need to open the jar and taste. I am sure you know how they initially taste when fresh so, if you find a different flavor, either tasteless or a bitter taste, do not take them.

Therefore, if you had other jars in your storage room, you will need to check on them. Check if they have a similar taste to avoid storing already expired pickles.

6. Expiry Date

Make sure that you check the expiry date before you buy instant pickles. The expiry date is one of the recommended ways on how to tell if pickles are bad. The manufacturer will always indicate the precise date so if this has expired do not buy even if the pickles seem to be in perfect condition.

In case you notice the expiry date is not original, do not buy. This means that the pickles may have expired a long time ago. Expired pickles are more likely to cause you more harm than good. Therefore, to not pick them blindly on the counters of your store before you check. A pickle jar with no expiry date cannot be considered reasonable.

Ways to Prevent Pickles from Getting bad

Make sure that you can put your pickles in a sealed jar.

Pickles in Brine Inside a Mason Jar

Most modern pickle jars have a tamper proof seal so that you can check if they have been opened, this can be in the form of a visually broken seal or a small depression on the top of the jar that can be depressed when the jar seal has been broken.

It is often good practice to add a label to your jar detailing the date on which you first opened the pickles, this way you can be sure that your pickles are not consumed beyond the recommended date on the jar.

If you are making homemade pickles it is advisable to store your pickles in a clear container or pickling jar with an airtight sealed lid. Add a sticker with the date they was made and the expiry date and then store in a cool dark place. Consume within one month of breaking the seal.

Mason Jars are a great way of storing pickles as they have a rubber sealed lid that is easy to open and reseal. 

Are Pickles Good For You

Pickles have so many health benefits that everyone needs to know. You have already known how to detect bad pickles from the above-discussed points. So, now you can see the fantastic benefits that are associated with pickles. Read on to learn more.

Controls diabetes

Pickles help to control blood sugar since they have low carbohydrates and calories. Make sure that you eat pickles every day if you have diabetes. It will be easy for you to deal with the effects that come along.

Reduce the Risk of Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are stubborn, and it gets so hard to heal them completely. Every woman in the reproductive age has encountered a yeast infection. At some point, yeast is normal in the productive organ, but if it becomes excessive, then medical attention is required.

Too much intake of antibiotics triggers uncontrollable yeast infection. Regular consumption of pickles helps to keep yeast under control and also prevents a recurrence.

Enhances Weight Loss

Are you there, and you want to lose weight? Make sure you try taking pickles every day. Maybe you have tried all types of ways to lose weight, but they are not working. Pickles will help you shed weight so fast.

You will have to add simple exercise to it, such as jogging, sit-ups, dancing, and walking. Make sure you take a balanced diet that will help you speed up the process of having a fit body.

Reduces Spleen Cancer Risk

Today everybody is scared of cancer, thereby taking every caution and prevention seriously. To prevent spleen cancer, make pickles a daily meal in your life. Additionally, you will have to live a healthy life and go for a check-up to make sure your general health is okay.

The spleen helps to maintain general body immunity; therefore, if any illness attacks it, the entire body will also be weak and sick. Pickles help the spleen since they produce prebiotic fever and probiotic bacteria that help your spleen keep off from the risk of cancer.

Boosts Gut Health

Pickles have numerous health benefits, and every living soul needs to make them an everyday meal. In case you have ulcers, pickles help to reduce the pain and create a lining in the stomach healing all ulcers.

Additionally, pickles help to prevent stomach cancer. Regular intake of pickles helps stomach cancer patients be able to control the pain as long as they take pickles daily.

In case you are suffering from constipation, try taking pickles every morning since they will help reduce constipation. You will always have easy digestion and a refreshing feeling in your stomach.

Pickles In an Airtight Container

Frequently Asked Questions About Pickles

How long do pickles last once opened?

According to manufacturer’s guidelines pickles have an unopened shelf life of 2 years. Once opened the guidelines are to refrigerate and consume within 5 days.

Do pickles need to be refrigerated?

Pickles do not need to be refrigerated. They are stored on shelves in grocery stores and supermarkets. The advice from the manufacturer is to refrigerate once opened but I believe if they are stored in a cool dark place with the lid securely correctly they will be fine.

Can eating expired pickles make you sick?

We do not recommend eating any food that has passed its expiry date but pickles submerged in brine and stored correctly should be fine. It is unlikely they would make you sick but should be avoided to be safe.

Do pickles go bad without the juice?

Pickles will deteriorate in quality once opened and this will be expedited if they are not sealed tight and fully submerged in the pickling brine.

Is it OK to eat pickles everyday?

Eating any food every day is fine as long as it is part of a healthy balanced diet. Pickles are no different. Enjoy them and eat them as you like just don’t over indulge on them.

What are the benefits of eating pickle?

Eating pickles in general do not have an direct health benefits but they are certainly not an unhealthy food. If you look at the core ingredients which are cucumbers, vinegars, dill, sugar and salt and then make you dietary decision based on those ingredients.

Are pickles a healthy snack?

Pickles are low in saturated fats but can contain a lot of salt so it’s important to check the nutritional label or make your own and you can control the amount of added ingredients.

Are pickles good for your skin?

There is no evidence to suggest that eating pickles would have any direct effect on your skin. Eat a healthy balanced diet and take care of your skin.

Are pickles good for weight loss?

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that eating pickles alone would aid weight loss. Pickles are essentially cucumbers pickled in vinegar and salt. Salt is not healthy when eaten in large amounts so eating a lot of pickles is not advised.


What are the health benefits of eating pickles –

Are pickles bad for you? –

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I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food!  You can find my Facebook here


Sunday 22nd of August 2021

My pickles turn yellow are they bad?

Charlene Dobert

Thursday 5th of August 2021

I bought a large bucket of pickles and transferred them to a jar that would fit in my fridge it had a socket for the juice after around 2 months I went to get a pickle and there was all mold on them and they were soft, what went wrong?


Monday 2nd of August 2021

my last winter piccalili (been in the fridge unopened) has seperated, smells and tastes fine but why has it done this, is it bad or is it something to do with the cornflour and vinegar?


Saturday 17th of October 2020

I bought a jar of pickles and I opened it and I closed the jar tight but I didn’t refrigerate them. I didn’t put them in the fridge for 5 days. Can they go bad because I didn’t refrigerate them right away?


Saturday 17th of October 2020

Hi Billie, No pickles will be just fine for several month stored in cool dark place.