Do I Need To Sterilize Jars For Refrigerator Pickles?

Since refrigerator pickles are more like quick pickles which must be refrigerated because they arent canned, is there any need to sterilize the jars prior to stuffing vegetables and brine inside?

You may be surprised to learn that sterilization is quite pivotal when it comes to the longevity of refrigerated pickles.

This article highlights the functions of sterilization, why its necessary when making refrigerated pickles and how it can be properly done to ensure safety of health when pickling.

What is sterilization?

Sterilization is the process of heating up items in order to destroy the microorganisms that are present on them. 

This makes the items safe for use in applications where the presence of the microorganisms could prove detrimental.

Is sterilization necessary for refrigerator pickles?

Because refrigerator pickles are not canned, which means the jars containing the pickles are not inserted into a water bath in a stock pot or pressure cooked in a pressure canner in order to destroy the microorganism that are inside the jar, it is quite necessary to sterilize the containers prior to stuffing anything inside of them.

This would ensure that no microbial activity is going on inside the jar which will greatly reduce the risk of illness as well as increase the time it takes for the pickles to spoil.

How do you prepare jars for refrigerator pickles?

To prepare jars for refrigerator pickles, you first need to clean them properly.

To clean jars, use hot water and a dishwashing detergent. You can even use a dishwasher for this purpose. Simply put the jars upside down on the top rack of the dishwasher and use the hottest setting with a rise and dry cycle. Make sure to keep the jars in the dishwasher until it’s time to use them.

After cleaning the jars with the detergent, rinse thoroughly to make sure no detergent residue is left inside which would affect the flavor of the brine during pickling and even the color of the cucumber.

When you’re done cleaning the jars, keep them submerged inside simmering water until it’s time to feed vegetables and brine into them.


Because we’re sterilizing them this time around, go ahead and bring a large stock pot filled up halfway with warm water, then lower the jars into the stock pot right side up, and then add more warm water until the jars are covered with about 1 inch of water above them.

Bring the water to a boil and start counting. Boil the jars for 10 minutes if you’re at an altitude less than 1000 feet. If you are in a place with an altitude higher than that, keep adding 1 additional minute for every 1000 feet increments in elevation.

After boiling, reduce the heat and keep the jars in the water until it’s time to fill them up.

What kind of jar should you use for refrigerator pickles?

The jars recommended to be used for refrigerator pickles are glass jars with a single lid configuration, like mayonnaise-type jars. Since the pickles aren’t going to be canned, there is no need to use a jar with two piece configuration or with a self sealing lid.

How long do refrigerator pickles last?

Refrigerator pickles certainly do not keep as long as fermented pickles and quick process pickles.

Refrigerator pickles stored in the fridge should last a maximum of 2 months before beginning to show the activities of spoilage bacteria and the growth of fungus.

If after storing for 2 months, there still is no visible sign or microbial growth or even a foul stench exuded from the jar, and the pickles even taste good or normal, then feel free to consume them, but make sure to do so early, as the pickles would hardly last another month in the fridge.

Can you reuse the brine in refrigerator pickles?

When you’re done consuming the pickles in the refrigerator pickles, you will be left with the brine solution and a finger scratch to your head on what to do with them. But there are a lot of ways you can actually purpose them.

You can use the brine to marinate eggs and other vegetables like beets and potatoes, but the marinate should never be left in the brine for longer than a couple of days. Make sure you’re using the brine immediately after the pickles are consumed from it, and not a brine that has sat for about a week or more after the pickles have been consumed.

Can you reuse the jars for a refrigerator pickle?

It is absolutely safe to reuse the jars for refrigerator pickles because they don’t require a seal which is the only component required to be discarded even in homemade canned pickles like fermented and fresh pack pickles.

To reuse the jars, simply process them the way we have mentioned above, by first, cleaning them thoroughly using detergent and hot water, then sterilizing them in hot water which will destroy any microbial growth going on in them.

Can refrigerator pickles be processed?

You can choose to process refrigerator pickles, but the moment you do so, the pickles cease to be refrigerator pickles and instead, become either fresh pack pickles, quick process pickles or fermented pickles depending on what makes up the brine solution.

The whole point of creating the refrigerated pickles is to enjoy them quickly without canning. Canning them therefore would defeat the original purpose of their creation. 

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