Refrigerator Pickles

river22(Z6 OK)July 14, 2008

I made a gallon of refrigerator pickles and they came out just a tad to vinegary. Question, to cut the tartness do I add a little more sugar or add water to cut it?

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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

If you made refrigerator pickles, you may need to throw it out. Listeria can survive in refrigerator pickles.
Never reduce vinegar in pickles. You add sugar instead.
Home-fermented, refrigerator dill, cucumber pickles are the product of lactic acid fermentation. They are made by immersing the pickling cucumbers in brine solution and seasonings. Following this, the product typically ferments at room temperature for one week. The pickles are then stored in the refrigerator during the consumption period.

Since L. monocytogenes is widespread in the environment, contamination of this product with the organism can potentially cause serious problems because consumers do not normally heat the dill pickles prior to consumption. Newly published research by a team at the University of Georgia revealed that home-prepared dill pickles inoculated with L. monocytogenes tested presumptively positive for the organism for up to 49 days (in the internal tissue) and up to 91 days on the surface of the pickles with salt concentrations of 1.3, 3.8 or 7.6%.

The researchers examined the fate of L. monocytogenes on the surface and in the interior of cucumbers and in brines of different salt concentrations (1.3, 3.8 and 7.6%) during a typical process of making homemade dill pickles. They measured the pH, salt (NaCl) and titratible acidity percentage, and the total population of Listeria, and other microorganisms of pickles left at room temperature storage at 2, 4, and 7 days (the fermentation period). Once the fermentation process was complete, they monitored the aforementioned parameters weekly during refrigerated storage.

Major findings:
Some of the inoculated L. monocytogenes cells in the treatment with the highest salt concentration of 7.6% remained viable.

Take home message:
Past recommendations for this type of product stated that consumption of refrigerator dill pickles, would be typically considered safe anytime after 3 days of refrigerated storage. However, from this study because L. monocytogenes may still be viable this point, there is a food safety risk.

This study recommended that home-prepared dill pickles of this type should not be distributed.

To identify at-risk population for Listeriosis, read the Research News You Can Use Summer 2005 at


Schlech, W. I., P. M. Lavigne, R. A. Bortolussi, A.C. Allen, E.V. Haldane, A.J. Won, A.W. Hightower, S.E. Johnson, S.H. King, E.S. Nicholles, and C. V. Broome. 1983. Epidemic listeriosis-evidence for transmission by food. N.Engl.J. Med. 308:203-206.

Swaminathan, B. 2001. Listeria monocytogenes. In Food Microbiology Fundamentals and Frontiers, 2nd ed. Eds. M.P. Doyle, L.R. Beuchat and T.J. Montville. ASM Press.

Kim, J.K., E.M. DSA, M.A. Harrison, J.A. Harrison, and E. L. Andress. 2005. Listeria monocytogenes survival in refrigerator dill pickles. J. Food Prot. 68(11):2005, 2356-2361.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 2:46AM
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river22(Z6 OK)

I never left the pickles out of the fridge. I immediately put them in the fridge and ate them after a week. I suppose this would be alright?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 7:32AM
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here's a Question from Reading Lady and Answer from Dr Andres (Natl Center) regarding refrigerated pickles.

Question: "Do the listeria studies on dill pickles also apply to other refrigerated pickle products, i.e. this recipe [I appended the pickled pepper recipe], sauerkraut, kimchee, etc. Should they all be avoided?"

Response: "There is nothing wrong, to my knowledge, with a fresh prepared refrigerator pickle that is always kept refrigerated, like the one you cite. Listeria bacteria can multiply at refrigerator temperatures, although very slowly, so for this reason as well as others, a mildly acidic pickle product will have its shelf life partially determined by the exact recipe and refrigerator temperature. Many other things will affect the final refrigerated shelf life of each recipe and now the product is used during refrigerated storage.
The concern over a former USDA recipe called 'Refrigerator Dill Pickles' is that those directions (and there are other sources of this still out there) called for a week storage at room temperature in a salt solution BEFORE refrigeration. This is the process that was withdrawn by USDA in 1989. It was a partial fermentation.
A fully fermented pickle or sauerkraut, fermented at room temperature, if fermented fully to a good conclusion, can also be kept refrigerated without these same concerns."
Elizabeth Andress

you can read the entire 2007 thread at

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 8:50AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Mine are ALWAYS in the fridge and last me a year! IF they are not eating up first.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 7:25PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

This is great info to have given all the "how to pickle" questions that are cropping up on the Vegetable Gardening forum. Hope no one minds if I link to this discussion over there.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 6:11PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

bump - excellent info and needs to be tied to all the current pickle discussions.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 9:22PM
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