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Pickles, why refrigerate them?

I was grabbing the pickles out of the fridge to make a sandwich and suddenly thought "Why would pickles need to be refrigerated?" I remember once as an almost teen being at an old grocery store somewhere near Gilroy, and there was a big wooden barrel on the porch that was full of pickles. Not refrigerated. Not hermetically sealed. Not even inside. It was just a barrel, with a loose fitting lid, sitting there on the front porch of this old general store. I also remember they were GOOD pickles.

So what gives? Are pickles the one thing that they don't put enough salt into any more? Isn't the whole point of pickling things to preserve them?

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  1. I don't think you have to refrigerate pickles, but I prefer to because they seem a little more firm when they're cold.

    1. Good question. I'm a fan of the pickle barrel. We have a couple of sources for our favorite and I try to regularly get a quart. I also don't think they would need refrigeration, and will likely try that next time I get them. They're not when I buy them, nor are they sealed.

      I just checked the Vlasic jar I keep in the refrigerator for emergencies, says Refrigerate After Opening on the lid. That I'll keep doing.

      Bet someone has the definitive word here...

      1. I don't think they need to be refrigerated, but I think they do taste better cold.

        1. I thought the same thing and the last time I bought one of those huge jars of dills I left it on a cool corner of my counter. They weren't crunchy, sort of soft like from the fair and people must have been sticking their unclean hands in there because after a couple of weeks fluffy mold started growing and I had to chuck it. I've never had that problem with the same kind of pickle in the fridge, the acid content must be lower than ye old corner stores.

          On another note this week I had purchased Vlassic sweet gherkins and was planning on serving them with lunch. But as I made up the sandwiches I tasted a pickle and they were soft so I stuck them in the freezer for 20 min, they came out with that classic crunch. I guess I'll be keeping mine in the fridge from now on.

          1. I don't store homemade preserves in the fridge but I find some shop bought ones don't have sufficient salt and/or vinegar for long storage in the cupboard