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How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

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How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  dizzygardener on 2/10/2011, 5:54 pm


I just made some pickles.

I don't have exact measurements of ingredients, but I did a ratio of 1 part water to 1.5 parts vinegar along with a little sugar and salt and spices. Then once I filled the jars I processed the 8oz. jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

They are cooling off now. Is this sufficient to keep the pickles safe to eat? How long do pickles keep?

If these are safe I should be able to store them in the pantry right? or do they need to be in the fridge. This is all very confusing... No

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  Megan on 2/10/2011, 6:07 pm

Hi dizzygardener,

CONGRATS on your first batch of pickles! Very Happy cheers

I am going to do my best to answer you, but I am hoping Ander will chime in here, too! I am only a first-year canner.

As a cook, I throw things together by the seat of my pants all the time. Canning is unlike cooking, however. You should never wing it, unless you are making refrigerator or freezer pickles with no intent to try to keep them for a long time.

If you did not scrupulously follow a canning recipe from a trusted source (such as Ball Blue Book, or an agricultural extension office), then IMHO you should probably keep the pickles in the refrigerator (once they are cool) and eat them quickly.

If you DID follow a trusted recipe, then they should be shelf-stable. Take the bands off--they are only there to keep the lids in place while the vacuum seal forms, and if the lid comes up by itself afterward, you want to know about it immediately. Label with the date you canned them. Never trust a jar that has the bubble up, lid popped, oozing or looks funky. The pickles I put up in August look fine.

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  kimbertangleknot on 2/10/2011, 6:30 pm

@Megan wrote:If you DID follow a trusted recipe, then they should be shelf-stable. Take the bands off--they are only there to keep the lids in place while the vacuum seal forms, and if the lid comes up by itself afterward, you want to know about it immediately. Label with the date you canned them. Never trust a jar that has the bubble up, lid popped, oozing or looks funky. The pickles I put up in August look fine.

Yes, take the bands off. I don't know why a lot of older canners don't do it, but it is near impossible to take them off without injury to yourself if they've rusted (which they can do). To paraphrase Alton Brown from Good Eats and his Jelly episode (but I have used this in my salsa and peppers as well as my own jelly):

Discard if:
lid has come off/pops
mold on surface
food touches lid
smells funny
bubble on surface
doesn't look right

People use to wing it back in the good ol' days before there were so many rules, alien abductions, and ruler slappings from the canning police. I could argue with my husbands grandmother as to why they have so many rules, and all she would say is "Well, back in my day, if we canned it and opened it and something didn't look or smell right, we didn't eat it, simple as that. Most of the time we were cooking it down to nothing anyways." That being said, I'll still stick to using the recipes I find. =) Congrats on the pickles!

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  dizzygardener on 2/10/2011, 6:50 pm

I should have been a bit more specific. This was a small batch. I measured the water and vinegar in a measuring cup and according to a recipe (1 cup of filtered water and 1.5 cups of vinegar). I winged it on the spices and used less sugar.

ETA: But I processed it just as the recipe said to: brine boiled and poured over raw pickle slices. Rings and lids placed on jars. Processed for 10 minutes.

Is fooling around with the spices enough to make these refrigerator only pickles?


Last edited by dizzygardener on 2/10/2011, 7:05 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarification)

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  acara on 2/10/2011, 6:59 pm

I feel for ya ..... just did my first batch of pickles (by myself) a couple of months ago & all I kept thinking to myself was "am I going kill myself doing this"?

It didn't help any that I had made pickles with my grandmother for a decade .... albeit a lot of years ago & was now reading that half the stuff that was "best practice" 20 years ago, was now considered a good way to end up in the hospital.

My first two batches went in the fridge, even though they were textbook Ball 2010 recipie, hot-pack and supposedly didn't need to. Nobody in the family was allowed to eat any of them until two days after I did (to see if I died from them). I would mark the top of each tested jar with "safe ...throw out in "30 days after date opened".

6 months & a dozen batches later, I'm still sticking them in the fridge for safety, but I think I'm ready to "roll-the-dice" and shelf-store my next batch (probably still wont let my family touch them until I've tested them without dying Laughing )

Take your time, build yr confidence & go with your guts ...... only you will know when your comfortabe with your pickling skill-set.

Above all, remember ...."When in doubt, throw it out" ...that's my mantra.

I honestly don't believe there is a pickle that's "good enough to die for" ... and I REALLY like pickles.......LOL


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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  dizzygardener on 2/10/2011, 7:10 pm

My problem is that i just can't find a good pickle recipe I like. Either it requires more pickles than I have on hand or it has too much sugar or it has too much salt. If it isn't one of the above then it's the wrong flavor.

I like my pickles dilly, garlicky, and lip puckering-ly sour with little to no sugar and minimal salt. I prefer vinegar, quick process pickles over fermented ones. I just don't have the patience to ferment pickles and I like the taste of vinegar especially since it makes it possible for me to use less salt without sacrificing too much flavor.

If anyone has a recipe to recommend do let me know. I plan to try the Heinz kosher dill recipe once I get a hold to a lot of pickles and a lot of dill.

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  camprn on 2/10/2011, 7:24 pm

I use numerous recipes from Putting it up with Honey
http://www.amazon.com/Putting-Up-Honey-Preserving-Cookbook/dp/0930356136

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  Chopper on 2/10/2011, 10:13 pm

The good thing is that the high acid canning, like pickles, is fairly foolproof. Between the vinegar and the hot water bath, as long as the tops all sealed, then they should be fine. My guess is they are probably good for a couple of years, but optimum for one year. And do not forget you want them to sit for a dew months before using for optimum flavor.

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  dizzygardener on 2/10/2011, 11:32 pm

@Chopper wrote:The good thing is that the high acid canning, like pickles, is fairly foolproof. Between the vinegar and the hot water bath, as long as the tops all sealed, then they should be fine. My guess is they are probably good for a couple of years, but optimum for one year. And do not forget you want them to sit for a dew months before using for optimum flavor.

A few months? darn funny

Not. Gonna. Happen.

Maybe with the next batch though...

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  LaFee on 2/11/2011, 5:37 am

Altering the spices won't affect the safety issue.

Altering the sugar very well might.

I'm the world's biggest seat-of-the-pants cook, but I follow canning recipes right down to the letter.

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Re: pickles

Post  ander217 on 2/11/2011, 8:05 am

Yay, another canner!

I have canned both low-acid and high-acid foods for most of my life, and I used to teach 4-H food classes with materials from the university extension service. Megan knows I'm probably the closest thing to the canning police here on the forum, and I hope everyone tries home canning. I agree with LaFee - follow canning recipes to the letter.

The other issue is, is your recipe an approved one according to latest standards? I used to make my grandmother's pickled beets which called for equal parts vinegar and water, and sugar to taste. They tasted wonderful. (Her recipe was similar to the one in my mother's Kerr canning book from the 1960s which didn't call for any processing at all, just the open kettle method - can them, tighten the bands, and wait for them to seal.) Trouble is, beets are really dense, and some current recommendations online for making pickled beets say to use straight vinegar without diluting it at all with water. The 2010 Ball canning book lists a recipe that calls for 3 1/2 c. vinegar and 1 1/2 c. water with 2 c. sugar, then processing 30 minutes in a boiling water bath. That recipe is exactly the same recipe from my 1984 Ball canning book, except that it doubles the processing time. In 1984 the Ball people recommended processing pickled beets for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath, rather than 30 as the 2010 recipe now requires. So that gives you some idea of how canning recommendations can change over time and why one should always use the latest recipes.

It all comes down to chemistry - there is a specific number on the ph scale, above which a food is no longer safe to can by water bath. How do home canners know when they have reached that number? The canning people and extension centers have equipment to test the acidity of their final products and they build in a buffer to allow for variations in acidity due to local growing conditions. We at home do not have their testing equipment, and therefore I believe we must follow their recipes and recommendations to be as safe as we can be.

My best advice to you is if you aren't sure, keep the jars in the 'fridge and use them fairly quickly. Be very careful about tweaking canning recipes, even if Grandma did it that way and never got sick. Probably 99 out of 100 percent of the old recipes would be fine, but like Acara I'm not going to chance feeding my family that one bad jar.

In regard to finding a good dill pickle recipe - I'm still looking for one myself. I have a lot of good sweet pickle recipes but I haven't yet found that perfect dill pickle. Please let me know how the Heinz recipe turns out.


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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  dizzygardener on 2/11/2011, 9:21 am

Ander,

Thank you for that very long and thorough reply. Smile

I suppose I won't make another batch of pickles until I can find the perfect recipe then.

Sweet pickles make me gag, so if I can't reduce the sugar in these recipes then I can't make pickles. Also, I have High Blood Pressure, so I need something fairly low in salt.

I am a serious dill pickle addict, but I haven't had a pickle in about a year. I was hoping that canning my own would be the answer, but now it's looking quite bleak... very sad

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  Megan on 2/11/2011, 6:49 pm

Thank you, Ander! I love you

Dizzy,

Ball has "special diet" recipes with reduced salt and reduced sugar. You just need to follow the directions.

My cukes didn't live to canning last year (CRY!) but I made some zucchini b'n'b pickles. I am still waiting for a good excuse to crack open a jar. (Camprn is probably laughing at me now....)

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/11/2011, 7:13 pm

]Oregon State Low Salt Pickles

The above link indicates that it is possible to reduce salt in Fresh Pack Pickles without compromising safety under certain circumstances. Read the info in the above link for full details.

Low Salt Kosher Dills
8 pounds pickling cucumbers (5‐6 inch)
1½ tsp. red pepper crushed
12 heads dill
4½ cups water
6 teaspoons dill seed
4½ cups vinegar
3 cloves garlic, finely cut
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. salt
Yield: 6 quarts
Wash cucumbers thoroughly, scrubbing with brush. Trim blossom ends. Drain. Slice lengthwise or
into crosswise slices.
Pack cucumbers into clean quart canning jars. To each jar, add 2 small heads fresh dill, 1 teaspoon
dill seed, ½ clove garlic, and ⅛ teaspoon red pepper.
Pour boiling brine of water, vinegar and salt over cucumbers in sterile jars, leaving ½ inch
headspace. Adjust lids. Process in a boiling water canner 5 minutes. Remove the jars and cool.
Pickles should be ready to eat in 6 weeks or so.
Note: If more brine is needed, mix in same proportion. If brine is too tart, add sugar. Do not add
water.
Source: Family Food Education Program

Hope this recipe helps.

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

Post  dizzygardener on 2/11/2011, 10:35 pm

@Furbalsmom wrote:]Oregon State Low Salt Pickles

The above link indicates that it is possible to reduce salt in Fresh Pack Pickles without compromising safety under certain circumstances. Read the info in the above link for full details.

Low Salt Kosher Dills
8 pounds pickling cucumbers (5‐6 inch)
1½ tsp. red pepper crushed
12 heads dill
4½ cups water
6 teaspoons dill seed
4½ cups vinegar
3 cloves garlic, finely cut
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. salt
Yield: 6 quarts
Wash cucumbers thoroughly, scrubbing with brush. Trim blossom ends. Drain. Slice lengthwise or
into crosswise slices.
Pack cucumbers into clean quart canning jars. To each jar, add 2 small heads fresh dill, 1 teaspoon
dill seed, ½ clove garlic, and ⅛ teaspoon red pepper.
Pour boiling brine of water, vinegar and salt over cucumbers in sterile jars, leaving ½ inch
headspace. Adjust lids. Process in a boiling water canner 5 minutes. Remove the jars and cool.
Pickles should be ready to eat in 6 weeks or so.
Note: If more brine is needed, mix in same proportion. If brine is too tart, add sugar. Do not add
water.
Source: Family Food Education Program

Hope this recipe helps.

Oh my Lord! I could just about kiss you! praise

Thank you so so much. I'll definitely give this a try once I have 8 pounds of cukes. Shocked

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Re: How long do pickles keep? Are these safe?

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