General Question

Joe_Freeman's avatar

Do I really have to refrigerate my Kosher dill pickles? Didn't the old-time street vendors have barrels unrefrigerated?

Asked by Joe_Freeman (479 points ) June 12th, 2009

Doesn’t the brine and/or vinegar prevent the growth of microorganisms thereby obviating the need for refrigeration? Is this a liability issue, i.e., tell them to refrigerate so we can’t be sued if someone gets sick?

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9 Answers

whatthefluther's avatar

If your pickles were cured with brine (coarse salt, dill, pickling spices, etc) you need to refrigerate to stop the fermentation process, or they will get overdone and spoil. That’s why you will find pickles cured this way in the refridgerated/deli section. Vinegar cured pickles are different. If properly packed in a jar, they require no refrigeration until the jar is open. I regret I never encountered a street vendor selling pickles in my 55 years in Los Angeles, but my grandmother and mother made the best I’ve ever eaten.

whatthefluther's avatar

Here’s an excellent recipe. Included in the article are excellent links that describe the fermentation process, health issues, proper canning methods, etc. There is an FDA link as well as one to a university.

whatthefluther's avatar

PS: Welcome to fluther @Joe_Freeman. Feel free to call me wtf (my initials…I did not curse). See you around…wtf

Joe_Freeman's avatar

@whatthefluther The pickles I grew up with in New York were amazingly good, and consistently so. As of the last time I went back, 2005, they were just as good and just as consistent in the diners and coffee shops, most of which are owned and run by Greeks, and which I suspect use a small number of common suppliers. In San Diego, where I now live, one pickle in ten is good. In New York, nine pickles in ten are good. But, I can buy bottled Ba-Tampte brand pickles here – they’re made in Brooklyn – and they are 80% as good as a New York coffeeshop pickle. Unfortunately, the local restaurants don’t buy that brand for their customers. I’ve had no other bottled pickle that was even remotely as good as Ba-Tampte.

whatthefluther's avatar

Ba-Tampte is the best store bought pickle you can buy and are my favorites (half-sours). Better than Bubbies, Strub’s, etc. Unfortunately, our local market doesn’t stock it, but my fiancee is sweet enough to make special shopping trips periodically to satisfy my craving for a decent pickle. There are quite a few good delis in L.A. (Cantor’s, Jerry’s, Solly’s, etc.) that make their own, but I don’t get out much anymore. See ya…wtf

rooeytoo's avatar

My dad made pickles in a big crock, he threw in salt, water and garlic and it just sat there, was never refrigerated. He would also put in strange things like brussel sprouts, he made garlic tomatoes the same way, usually with green tomatoes.

They were too potent for me but the rest of my family ate them and lived to tell the tale!

laureth's avatar

Lots of cultures have their fermented foods. Kim-chee, sauerkraut, etc. – but I’m guessing that people who eat it a lot have digestive systems that are able to cope with it.

Also, I think there’s a difference between a fermented thing (safe to eat), and any aftermarket bugs that get in there to foul up the perfectly good fermentation. Perhaps refrigeration is intended to avoid that.

Also. Some things can be left out for a while just fine (like a pickle-seller’s day), but for long-terrm storage (an open jar you may eat from for weeks) a refrigerator might be the safer option.

rooeytoo's avatar

I forgot about kim-chee, they bury that stuff for a couple of months before they eat it. I love it, it is hot and garlicky, we ate a lot of it in Korea. It is hard to find any in a jar that is as good as the real thing.

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