Do Pickles Have To Be Refrigerated?

Pickles are a popular snack that many people love to have on hand at all times. If you’re a lover of this food, it can be confusing to understand where you need to store your pickles when you’re not consuming them. Do pickles need to be refrigerated, or can you leave them out in the open?

Pickles don’t always need to be refrigerated, but doing so can help them last a little longer. Most of the time, the difference lies in pasteurization. Unpasteurized pickles need refrigeration, while pasteurized ones don’t.

Read on to learn more about the refrigeration process for pickles. Once you understand storage for this snack, you can shop with a purpose for your tasty food. You will keep them tasty for as long as possible.


Where You Buy Your Pickles Matters

If you buy your pickles, you may notice two locations where you can find them – in the refrigerated section and the room-temperature aisle. Where you buy your veggies can help determine if you need to refrigerate them or not. It’s a subtle difference that can mean the world when considering pickle storage.

In general, the two types of pickles in these locations are:

  • Pasteurized pickles: These have gone through the process to prevent fermentation when this food sits in room temperature air.
  • Unpasteurized pickles: These have not gone through the pasteurization process that warrants storage outside of the fridge.

Each of these has a different requirement for proper storage.

Below, we’ll talk about the storage strategy you can take with each pickle. Keep these in mind when you buy your next jar from the store. Usually, this location can help you determine if you will need to refrigerate your pickles.

Pasteurized Pickles

Pasteurized pickles have gone through a process that prevents fermentation from happening in a room-temperature environment. These are the pickles you see on shelves in the grocery stores, sitting out without any chill. Most of the time, you don’t need to put these pickles inside the fridge unless otherwise specified somewhere on the container.

If pasteurized pickles need to be refrigerated, it will usually tell you on the label. Make sure you look for this before buying to become clear with the storage necessary. If this is the case, you can safely leave the pickles in a room-temperature environment until you open them for the first time. Fridges, however, will keep them better for longer.

Unpasteurized Pickles

Unpasteurized pickles have not gone through the pasteurization process that prevents fermentation. Because of this, if they sit out at room temperature, they’ll ferment and will go bad much faster. These are usually found in the fridge of a grocery store and should be transferred to your fridge to avoid unnecessary rot.

You’ll find unpasteurized pickles in the refrigerated section, so this storage in a grocery store is an excellent indication right off the bat of what you need to do with this jar. There will also be instructions on the label informing you of the necessary refrigeration. If you don’t put unpasteurized pickles somewhere cool, they will ferment and become inedible.

Should You Refrigerate Homemade Pickles?

Another version of pickles is the homemade variety. Many people take the fermentation process into their hands, creating masterpieces that take this food to the next level. What about these? Should you put homemade pickles in the fridge, or can you leave them out in the open?

Although homemade pickles should be in the open to ferment initially, they should eventually move into the fridge. This process is because:

  • They won’t last as long: Homemade pickles don’t last as long, so keeping them in the fridge will preserve flavor and freshness.
  • Fermentation needs to slow: Fermentation is required for homemade pickles, but it shouldn’t continue indefinitely. Keep them cool to slow down the fermentation process.

As soon as the pickles have formed in a room-temperature environment, you’ll need to shift them to something cooler as soon as you can.

If you are going to eat them right away, you can keep them cool for a little while and then indulge. If you want to hold on to your creations for an extended period, refrigerate them for the best results.

How Do You Know Pickles Have Gone Bad?

Now that you know how storage works, it’s critical to understand when pickles have gone rotten. If your veggies are going bad much quicker than expected, that is a sure sign that you’re not taking the right approach to storage for your food.

Knowing the signs of foul pickles can save you trouble with the next jar you have in your home.

A few indications that pickles have gone bad include:

  • Smell: A foul smell in a jar can indicate that something is wrong with your pickles.
  • Lid bulge: A bulging lid or bubbles in the jar show decay past what a jar of pickles should have.
  • Color change: If the greenish liquid in a pickle jar shifts to something brown, a change is happening inside your taste buds may not enjoy.
  • Taste: A bitter or flavorless pickle indicates decay that won’t go away.

Any one of these can tell you that your pickles have hit their rotting point.

If you’re keeping your pickles outside the fridge and this rot occurs, you should have been keeping them cold. Rot is a great learning experience that can help you determine the best place to store your pickles for the long haul.


Pickles are delicious, but it can be tricky to know how you’re supposed to store them. Do they need to be refrigerated? Can you leave them out in the open? It’s vital to know so you can keep your food as fresh as possible for as long as you can.

Most of the time, putting pickles inside the fridge is your best bet. However, many pasteurized varieties are okay to leave out in the open. If they need to be refrigerated after opening, the instructions will be on the jar.

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