Do pickles need refrigeration

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “do pickles need refrigeration?” We will also discuss what is the shelf life of pickles and how you need to store them.

Do pickles need refrigeration?

Yes, pickles need refrigeration. When unopened and pasteurized, pickles can be kept at room temperature. However, after opening the jar or with unpasteurized pickles, the best way to store them is in the fridge.

As pickles are submerged in a solution that contains water, vinegar, and sugar, they can be preserved for a longer time. You can help preserve long shelf life by keeping them in a place where sunlight and heat are not in contact with them.

What are pickles?

Pickles are cucumbers that were submerged in a pickling solution, they are used all around the globe to add a different flavor to sandwiches or burgers. It is quite easy to prepare pickles and you can even do it at home!

The method of pickling was first performed about 4,000 years ago, and it was used to preserve its shelf life thanks to its low acidity content. 

What is the pickling process?

Pickling is a process created to enlarge the shelf life of cucumbers with the help of a special solution made of vinegar, or salt. This method enriches the features of the original vegetables and fruits submitted to this process.

However, you need to follow a special procedure to avoid any problems with the texture or flavor of your pickles. According to ScienceDirect, there are certain problems caused by poor manufacturing or storing of pickles

Problems associated with pickling 

Slimy pickles, it is a sign of spoilage

The acidity is too low.
Cooked for a longer time than recommended.
The container is not airtight.
Pickles are exposed to heat.

Wrinkled pickles

Overcooked pickles.
The pickling solution is too strong.
Pickles are not fresh enough.

Dark or discolored pickles

Improper utensils, avoid using materials like

As you can notice, both preparation and storage are decisive to determine how long your pickles will last and their quality. 

How long do pickles last?

Pickles might be submitted to a pasteurized process that will eliminate most harmful bacteria contained in cucumbers. It also helps to enlarge the shelf life of your pickles. When unpasteurized, you can perceive they get sour as time passes by.

As we are talking about a product that is submerged in a solution full of preservatives, they will exhibit a large shelf life as most bacteria can not live normally under those circumstances.

Keeping your pickles soaked in the pickling solution will help them not spoil, it doesn’t even matter if they were already opened, just make sure they are submerged in the solution. Pickles have been reported to last for more than 3 months past the best-by date.

When homemade, the shelf life diminishes a little bit as they can last for two months under refrigeration conditions. 

What signs help you indicate when pickles have spoiled?

Certain signs can help you notice when pickles are no longer suitable for human consumption as they have spoiled. So, make sure you constantly check for the following signs before eating pickles

  • Color change. You can notice them going darker or some discolorations might also appear.
  • Off smell. When pickles have gone bad, you will detect a sour odor that indicates spoilage signs. 
  • Bulging lid. It is an easy sign to detect spoilage without opening the jar.
  • Bubbling in the jar. Also, an easy sign to detect spoilage.
  • Change in the pickling solution texture. 

How should you store pickles?

Pickles can be stored in the pantry without a problem, when pasteurized, all you need to guarantee is a space that is not near any heat or humidity sources. Also, you need to avoid direct sunlight as it can deteriorate pickles faster.

After having opened the jar, you need to keep the pickles in the fridge sealed tightly. 

If you prepare homemade pickles, they are unpasteurized, so they always need to be kept in the refrigerator. Also, make sure you close the jar tightly after each use. 

A general and important suggestion is to always keep the pickles submerged in the brining solution. When you leave any part of the pickle outside the liquid, its texture will change in color and moisture.

Does it matter if pickles are pasteurized?

Pasteurization is a process that is used to eliminate most of the harmful bacteria contained in the food. When submitted to high temperatures, bacteria are no longer able to survive, this can enlarge the shelf life of the product noticeably.

Have you ever tried pickles? Not all people love their taste, but they can add an interesting flavor and texture to your sandwich.

If you want to read more about what pasteurization implies to the shelf life of this product, click here.


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “do pickles need refrigeration?” We have also discussed other queries related to the subject at hand. 

Hope you found this blog useful. If you have any questions, please let us know.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.