Does Pickle Juice Go Bad? Easy Spoilage Guide

Pickles are one of the yummiest things to snack on or add to sandwiches, but more than that, I love pickle juice. It is so versatile, whether you use it to make more pickles, add it to a bloody mary, mix it in dressing and sauces or, my favorite way to have it, sip it after a long run on a hot day. Pickle juice also lasts pretty long in the refrigerator, making you wonder, does pickle juice go bad?

pickles in a jar with pickle juice

Pickle juice goes bad eventually, and you will know it is spoiled if it changes color, smell, or taste. If you notice bubbles in the liquid or the lid of the jar is expanded, there’s a gas buildup. Mold, brown, or black fleck in the brine or pickles is another sign of spoilage and should be discarded.

It is not common to notice spoiled pickle juice because it lasts a long time if it is correctly stored in the refrigerator. It is also a preservative liquid; however, several signs can allow you to pick up if your pickle juice is bad.

How To Know If Pickle Juice Is Bad

Pasteurized pickle juice can last for a few months even after its best before date, and you will rarely end up with spoiled brine in your fridge. If you leave it long enough, thinking it will never go bad, you probably want to be careful before you consume it because spoiled pickle juice is not something you want in your body.

A jar of unopened pickles will last up to 2 years and around three months in the refrigerator. Certain conditions like excessive exposure to air, being left out of the refrigerator, not closing the lid correctly, or fluctuating temperatures in the fridge can cause your pickle juice to go bad quicker than you expect. But how will you know when it is spoiled?

You want to discard your pickle juice as soon as you notice the brine has any cloudiness, a change in color, smell, taste, mold or brown dots, or an expanding lid. Avoid consuming your pickle juice or adding it to other recipes if you see any spoilage signs if you want to prevent food-borne illnesses. Below is a detailed list of signs that your pickle juice is bad.

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Sign #1: Change In The Color

If you notice that your pickles or the juice has changed color from when you first bought it, the brine is most likely gone off, and you will need to discard it. Sometimes color from the vegetables can release into the brine, and you might notice some redness from carrots or green from cucumbers. That is not a major issue, but if it starts to get darker, it means it is the start of spoilage.

Sign #2: Change In The Smell

A change in smell is often one of the first signs you will be able to note if your pickles are bad. If you open the jar and it doesn’t smell like pickles usually do, or how it smelt when it was first opened fresh, your pickle juice is bad. Fermentation can occur, and sometimes that causes a rotten smell which means harmful bacteria are present in the liquid, and you need to discard it immediately.

Sign #3: Change In The Taste

Sometimes your pickles and juice will look and smell perfectly okay, but when you eat them, you will notice that the taste is different. If there is any change in the taste of your pickles or the brine, try to spit it out immediately and discard the rest. When pickle juice is bad, it will be tasteless or slightly bitter. That is how you can tell that your pickle juice is spoiled.

Sign #4: Expanded Jar Lid

A lid of a pickle jar that has expanded means there is a buildup of gas. The acid in the pickles creates pressure, which causes the top to bulge outward. Releasing the tension can sort it out, but it is also a sign that your pickle juice is starting to spoil or has already gone off. In the case of bulging lids, it would be best to discard your pickle juice to avoid consuming a product that is toxic to your body.

Sign #5: Bubbles In The Pickle Juice

If you notice any bubbles in your jar of pickle juice, it is a sign of extreme spoilage. A buildup of bubbles without moving the jar is a bad sign, but you can also do it by shaking it. If you notice bubbles after shaking, your pickle juice is bad. That is not supposed to happen, and if you consume the pickles or the brine, you may fall extremely ill.

Sign #6: Mold, Spots, Or Cloudiness

Any change in the texture of the pickle juice is also a sign of spoilage. Cloudiness or a foamy line at the top of the liquid means your pickle juice is off. You may even notice mold or brown and black fleck if there is extreme spoilage. Some people remove these parts and still consume the pickles or the juice; however, you should discard it entirely if you see any of these characteristics.

Related: Do Pistachios Go Bad?

How To Preserve Pickle Juice

If you want to make your pickle juice last longer, there are a few ways you can preserve it, as listed below:

  • Only remove the seal to open the jar if you need to use the pickles or brine.
  • Always close the lid properly and tightly and store it in the fridge.
  • Do not keep it out of the fridge for too long. Take out the pickles or brine quantity you need and keep the jar back in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze leftover pickle juice in an ice tray and store the ice blocks in a freezer-safe container or zip-lock baggie. Use it as you need for fun recipes.

More Questions About Pickle Juice

How long can I keep pickle juice?

Pickle juice will usually be dated for two years sealed, but it can last for about three months past its expiry date if it is unopened. Once your jar is opened, it will last around three months in the refrigerator if you keep the lid closed properly and tightly. Always check for spoilage before consuming your pickles and brine,

How to dispose of bad pickle juice?

If your pickle juice is bad, you can toss the pickles into compost to avoid wastage and pour the brine down the drain. You can wash and sanitize the jar if it is glass for reusing, but plastic jars should be discarded.

What can I do with old pickle juice?

If you want to use your old pickle juice before it goes bad to avoid food waste, you can use it in several recipes. Dressings and sauces, deviled eggs, and adding it as a vinegar replacement in any marination for meat or fish, or mixing some into a bloody mary are great options. It will boost the flavor of just about anything.

Why does pickle juice turn cloudy?

Cloudy pickle juice could mean a few things, such as you used table salt instead of pickling salt, a development of yeast that will settle at the bottom of the jar, or lactic acid bacteria growing during the fermentation period. Very faint cloudiness is not a major issue, but if you notice more cloudiness than usual, the pickle juice is bad, and you should discard it.

Can I freeze pickle juice?

If you have no use for pickle juice and all your pickles are already finished, you can freeze the brine to use later in different recipes. The taste does not change, and it remains safe to use. It also lasts a lot longer than it would in the refrigerator.

What happens if I consume bad pickle juice?

It is not always noticeable when pickle juice is bad until you consume it. Eating rotten pickles or having spoiled brine may cause digestion issues like nausea, diarrhea, gas, and stomach cramps. If your condition worsens, see a doctor.

Further Reading:


Pickle juice is a unique ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways (waste not, want not!) However, because this ingredient is not as commonly used in recipes, you may find yourself with some that’s been in the fridge for a little too long. Make sure to inspect your pickle juice carefully before deciding whether or not it is safe to consume!

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