How To Open A Jar Of Pickles
Imagine worrying about how to open a jar of pickles while you are making the best sandwich. And the problems do not stop there. After struggling to open it, you stop and try to remember when you bought this jar and how long it has been stuck in your pantry. Can an unopened jar of pickles go bad and can you still use it for your meal?
You can always expect pickles on burgers, sandwiches, and on the sides of your meal since it has become a staple in the kitchen. This is because it acts as a palate cleanser and a taste enhancer. It helps us taste the rest of the meal clearly. What’s more, is that they can be easily found in restaurants and in groceries.
Health Benefits of Pickles
‘Pickling’ is a fermentation process itself. It is an ancient technique in food preservation where you soak food into an acidic solution and let it stay. Pickles can be made from any vegetables but pickled cucumbers are the most common type. The solution is made with brine – water mixed with vinegar or salt – that contains helpful bacteria.
Pickles have many nutritional benefits. It is also a great source of antioxidants. Here are some benefits of eating pickles and why this is a great addition to your diet:
- It prevents the risk of spleen cancer because it has helpful bacteria (probiotics) content. It contains natural antioxidants which fight chemical that cause cancer and heart diseases.
- Fermented food helps speed up digestion. A jar of pickles contains probiotics that are important for gut health. It eases digestion and prevents constipation.
- It helps control blood sugar levels and prevents an increase in calories due to the vinegar-based brine it contains therefore lowering the risk of diabetes.
- The antioxidants found in pickles are correlated in lowering the risks of heart disease.
- Eating pickles with your meals helps absorb more nutrients. The lactic acid contained in the pickles helps break down the food better so you can get more nutrients from it.
- Pickles have vitamins and minerals that boost our immune system.
- If you are experiencing acid reflux, the acid in fermented foods just like juice in the jar of pickles will help the stomach back to its normal acidity.
A jar of pickles also contains huge amounts of sodium because of the process of fermenting. So, regulate eating pickles and do not eat more than what you need.
Can an Unopened Jar of Pickles Go Bad?
Pickles are a must-have whether used as an ingredient or just for a simple snack, which is why we tend to store some of them up and it becomes common for us to have one unopened jar stored away in our pantry. But have you ever asked can an unopened jar of pickles go bad? Some of us probably did not have to deal with this problem because we already consumed the pickles before they even reached their expiration date.
Shelf lives of pickles are extended because the vinegar or brine used to make it are natural preservatives. However, if it is not properly stored, it can spoil easily just like any other food. So yes, it can go bad but is highly unlikely.
The good bacteria that a jar of pickles contains do not only have their health benefits but are also the reason for their long shelf life. These good bacteria eliminate bad micro-organisms and do not allow them to grow further. Also, the bad bacteria cannot thrive inside the jar because the acidic solution in the jar (plus a proper seal) does not allow air and moisture to come in. For this reason, this process of preserving food had been used for a long time already.
Pickles that underwent the proper process of fermentation can last for as long as 1-2 years past the stated ‘Best Before Date’ – provided that they have been sealed properly, have not been opened, has no signs of spoilage, and is stored at room temperature or inside a refrigerator.
Now you have learned whether can an unopened jar of pickles go bad and realized you can still put it to complete your recipe, you can now go on how to open a jar of pickles.
Signs That Jar Of Pickles Are Bad
Now that we have answered whether an unopened jar of pickles can go bad or not, we still need to see the signs if the pickles have gone bad. In case you had no idea when you bought the pickles and if you are unsure if they are still good to eat, what you need to look out for are the changes in the smell and texture of the pickles.
- Molds. If you open the jar and you noticed the molds, throw the pickles away immediately. Molds can develop when the jar is stored in a warm place. You may also notice thin threads in the brine solution.
- Lids are bulging. The pickles contain an acidic solution and acids can produce gas. Once it goes bad, extra pressure from gas develops. If the metal cap of the jar is bulging out into a dome shape, it is a sign that the pickles have gone bad and the jar can no longer hold the pressure inside. The jar might burst because of extra pressure and before this happens, you might want to check how to open a jar of pickles.
Furthermore, bulging lids can be a sign that the safety seal has been broken.
- Foul Smell. Pickles may have a distinct smell because of fermentation but a strong foul smell of pickles is an indication that there is a presence of harmful bacteria in it so it will be best to discard the pickles because they will not be safe for consumption.
- Black Spots and Change in Color. If there is a change in the color of the pickles inside the jar, it may be because of fungal contamination. Dark spots floating around the pickles can be an indication of the presence of fungus.
- The Texture of Brine Changed. The vinegar or brine solution used in pickles has thick fluid consistency and has a clear pale yellow color. If you noticed that it has turned water-like and slimy, there might be a problem.
- The Texture of Pickles Changed. Avoid consuming softened pickles and slimy spongy pickles or any indication that the texture of pickles had changed significantly.
How to Store Pickles Properly
Knowing how to store pickles properly is as important as knowing how to open a jar of pickles. If the jar of pickles is unopened, it can be stored at room temperature or in a refrigerator even a year past its expiration date. But if it was opened, the pickles will stay good for the same length of time as long as it is sealed tightly and kept in a refrigerator. Some other ways of properly storing pickles are in:
- Plastic Cans. You can use a food-grade plastic can.
- Sterilized Containers. Fill half of the container with water. Heat it in the oven for about two to three minutes or until the water boils. Empty the contents and dry the jar. You can also sterilize the cap by pouring boiled water on it. You can put the pickles and the brine once the jar has dried up.
- Bottom Shelf. Place the jar of pickles at the lowest part of your shelf in the pantry. This area is suitable because it is cold enough and not exposed to sunlight.
- Refrigerator. If you already opened the jar of pickles, you need to store it in the refrigerator and not at room temperature anymore. But if the pickles are stored in a tin can, you must transfer them to a different container first before putting them in the fridge. Tin can will change the taste of pickles and will cause it to spoil faster.
- Clean Utensils. It is best to use clean utensils when getting pickles out of the jar to prevent bad bacteria from getting introduced into the jar. Also, the whole pickles need to be submerged in brine so if there are protruding pieces in the jar, push it down with a fork before putting the cap on and storing it in the fridge.
How To Open Jars Easier
Detailed ways to open jars that are tight were already discussed in our previous blogs. But here are some of the techniques for how to open jars easier.
- By Adding Friction
When jars are slippery, it can lessen our grip on them, making them hard to open. It may be because of moist hands or condensation in the jar. How to open a jar of pickles is by adding extra grip on them with the help of friction.
Wrap the top of the lid with anything that can help with the grip. Hold the jar with your non-dominant hand and twist the jar lid with your dominant one. You can wear rubber gloves for extra grip.
Some items you can place on the lid to help add friction are:
- Towel or rough cloth
- Plastic wrap
2. By Breaking the Seal
Breaking the seal will release the pressure that has built up inside the jar and will help on how to open jars easier. Try hitting the bottom of the jar with the heel of the palm of your palm, if it does not work in weakening the vacuum seal, you can use these tools to help break the seal:
- Tip of a metal spoon. Pry the lid of the jar open by inserting the tip of the metal spoon in between the lid and the jar. The side of the spoon that usually holds the food should face outward. Push the spoon upwards while moving it around the rim. You can also use a butter knife if you are comfortable using sharp objects, just be careful not to damage the lid so you can still use it to cover the jar later.
If you hear a hiss of air, it is a sign that the seal has broken and you can now twist the lid off easily.
- Wooden Kitchen Spoon. You can use a wooden spoon to tap around the rim of the jar lid to break off the seal. The heavier the spoon, the better.
3. By Using Duct Tape
Pull out a long strip of duct tape. It should be long enough to cover halfway around the lid with an extra tape length of 7 inches. Wrap the duct tape about a half around and on top of the lid and let the excess hang free. The bottom of the duct tape should be in line with the bottom of the lid. Hold the jar and then pull the remaining length of the duct tape (like a handle) to twist the jar lid.
4. By Using Hot Water
Because of the different expansion properties of metal and glass, using heat on the jar lid might help how to open jars easier. Because the metal lid expands more than the glass, it is easier to open it when exposed to heat. Heat will also melt possible food residue that has stuck in the mouth of the jar.
Run the hot water and put the jar lid under it. Move the jar lid around to wet all sides of the lid. Be careful not to expose the glass jar to the hot water, nobody wants hot pickles, plus it might break the glass.
A jar of pickles has become a staple in our kitchens not only because of how it enhances the taste of our meals but also because of the benefits it gives to our health. And now that you know the answer to the questions can an unopened jar of pickles go bad and how to open a jar of pickles, you won’t feel pressured anymore whenever you need to open a jar of pickles you get from your kitchen table or from your fridge.