Pickle Storing Tips Every Indian Needs To Know
Image Credit: Indian pickles need to be stored and used properly | Pexels

On a trip to Kerala in 2022, I splurged—like I always do, and I’m sure every travelling foodie does—on a wide range of local pickles, spices and chips. From Malabari date pickles to fish and prawn ones, I literally bought every kind of pickle I could lay my hands on, preferably in sealed packets so that they fit into my suitcases easily. When I got back home, I carefully transferred each pickle in airtight jars, and made it a point to eat them every day with my meals. Well, for a while.

A few months later, the jars kept getting shifted to the back of the shelf as my attention moved to other things in my pantry. Last week, I got one of the pickle jars out and realized the contents were spoiled! It dawned on me that while I felt I had done everything right while storing it, I must have missed a critical step, resulting in what truly feels like a national loss. I’m sure every reader out there will identify with the feeling. We Indians, no matter what our region or religion, do love our pickles after all.

So, I searched high and low for every tip or trick we need to store pickles. Here’s everything you need to know about storing pickles.

Understanding Indian Pickles Is Important First

Most pickles from around the world are made using ingredients that are meant to keep them fresh for a long time, but Indian pickles hold a special place for a reason. All Indian pickles, most popularly known as achaar, are fermented. This naturally extends their shelf life. Indian pickles also include tempered whole spices instead of raw ones, which also adds to their longevity. In addition, Indian pickles are made using stable oils that don’t go bad as easily as say olive oil. Mustard oil and sesame oil are the most commonly used oils in Indian pickles, and these have long shelf lives too.

But of course, it’s not just about the ingredients. Pickle making is an age-old ritual in India and involves steps that our grandmothers have perfected to ensure our pickles last for at least a year or two. There are specific times of the year when pickles are made, and that too in very sterilized and purest of conditions. From picking the right jar to knowing just how long the pickles need to be exposed to sunlight, every step of the pickling process proves that it’s an art as well as a very precise science. This is the reason why, if stored right, there is very little chance of Indian pickles going bad.

Tips You Need To Store Pickles Properly

  • So, clearly, what we all need to learn and never forget is storing pickles the right way. Here are all the tips you need to know:
  • Make sure the pickle jar you pick has a wide mouth and is made of glass or ceramic.
  • Ensure that the jar lid is not made of metal and can be sealed properly. Metal lids tend to corrode and rest, which will impact the pickle’s shelf life as well as taste. It can also increase the risk of food poisoning via contamination.
  • The pickle jar should be cleaned and dried completely and properly before you shift any pickle into it.
  • When you transfer the pickle, make sure the jar is filled to the brim. Any empty space will give continued exposure to oxygen and moisture, which can ruin the pickle.
  • Store the pickle jars in a cool, dry place. Ideally, your pickle shelf should not have other items that can potentially contaminate the pickles.
  • Always use a clean, dry, wooden spoon to take the pickles out. Never use a metal spoon to take the pickles out.