Will my Zuni pickles really keep indefinitely?
I'm about to make zucchini pickles and red onion pickles from the Zuni Cafe cookbook. They are meant to be kept in the refrigerator, and the jars are not processed in boiling water after being sealed.
Both recipes say that the pickles will keep "indefinitely" in the fridge. Is that true? Can I keep these jars of pickles in the fridge all winter long without worry, assuming they look/smell ok?
I'm eating some of the zuke pickles from that recipe right now, on a sandwich, in between typing. These were pickled in January. Delish! Am sad this is the last of something like twelve well-received jars. I did not refrigerate these until I opened them; they were on a shelf in my pantry. Pickles are usually fine stored like this for up to a year; after that date they won't go off, but the texture declines I find.
Pickles (and in my experience, often chutney too) contain so much vinegar that the pathogens which could perhaps survive in a jam or tomato sauce jar don't have a chance. They just can't survive in that acidic environment. Think about it - when did you last have you seen a bottle of vinegar grow mould? But to make sure you are not diluting the pickling mixture too much by adding other ingredients, stick to proven recipes if you're not sure of the correct ratios of vegetables to sugar to vinegar.And make sure your jars are clean.
Pickles are one of the safest types of canned goods to make at home, so don't worry and enjoy them!