Does one bad pickle ruin the rest?
June 9, 2020 5:17 PM   Subscribe

I bought some cheap pickles from Trader Joes. When I opened them, some were sticking up above the brine and were soft, so I decided they might not be safe to eat. Are the rest of pickles, which were submerged, probably fine? (I did eat one yesterday and have suffered no ill effects.)
posted by pinochiette to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We’re they sold to you from the refrigerated section? If not, you’re fine, even with the original poking out above the water line. Jarred pickles are rarely made through fermentation, so there’s nothing to go wrong with them, really. They’re pickled in enough vinegar to stay shelf stable and safe. The pickle above the water line still absorbed a lot of vinegar in its journey from cuke to pickle.

And even if they were fermented and sold in the refrigerator section, you’d likely be fine consuming them as long as you didn’t see any non-white mold spots on them.

Pickles are resilient.
posted by furnace.heart at 5:32 PM on June 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

They were not refrigerated, and they looked fine, the only problem was the squishiness.
posted by pinochiette at 5:34 PM on June 9, 2020

Chiming in to agree with furnace.heart (I type slower, apparently)

Should be totally fine. Let your senses guide you (as you did with discarding the soft ones) and as long as they look/taste ok, and are submerged, you are good.

It’s not a “one bad apple“ scenario. It’s a “the air got to the portion of the pickles not submerged”. Basically, the brine (by way of vinegar or the salt and lactic acid of lacto fermentation) doesn’t support the growth of dangerous pathogens. But if they go above the brine, they basically can soften, mold once they are opened and exposed to more air, and go bad. This can happen when you lacto ferment at home. It’s pretty standard to just remove any soft bits, remove any mold that forms on top, and just keep going with the fermentation.

Keep them stored in the fridge and enjoy!
posted by jenquat at 5:37 PM on June 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm pretty sure this has been the case in every single jar of pickles I've ever opened (I only buy the cheap ones so maybe the fancy ones are different). I eat all the pickles in the jar including the soft ones at the top, and remain alive to this day, as far as I know.
posted by randomnity at 7:15 AM on June 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

If canning worked this way, we'd all be dead. All the pickles (even the ones that poke up) are safe to eat.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:48 AM on June 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

There's nothing wrong with them, above brine or below.

I don't think I've ever opened a new jar of pickles wherein all pickles were fully submerged.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:16 PM on June 10, 2020

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