Pickled eggs are a humble yet flavorful snack or appetizer that may confuse those who have never made them. Cured in brine or vinegar, these hard-boiled eggs have a surprisingly long shelf life.
But how long do pickled eggs last? Pickled eggs have a shelf life of 3-4 months if stored in the fridge in a glass jar or plastic container with a tight-sealing lid. But you should keep the hard-boiled eggs in the pickling solution for around a month until they are fully seasoned.
In this article, we will tell you how to store pickled eggs so that they last longer and remain safe for consumption.
It’s always important to know the signs of bad pickled eggs as well as the mistakes that may make them go bad sooner.
Do Pickled Eggs Go Bad?
Pickled eggs are hard-boiled eggs preserved in vinegar or brine. Vinegar and salt water solution are used for the preservation of different foods. And eggs, being highly perishable, have been preserved in vinegar or brine since the mid-1700s.
If you have too many eggs and don’t want them to go to waste, pickling them is what you should do. The acidity of the vinegar or brine solution prevents the development of harmful bacteria.
The acidic solution controls the pH rate of the liquid. This, in its turn, controls the development of Clostridium botulinum bacteria. The latter is the cause of botulism in pickled and canned food.
While pickling significantly extends the shelf life of eggs, pickled eggs eventually go bad too. For the maximum shelf life of the eggs, you need to provide proper storage conditions.
In addition to poor storage conditions, there are two pickling mistakes that can make the eggs go bad too soon.
First, poking the eggs. While some sources recommend poking the eggs to accelerate the seasoning process, this can significantly shorten the amount of time these eggs are safe to eat.
Pricking and poking holes in the hard-boiled eggs before putting them into the seasoning liquid make it easy for Clostridium to penetrate into the yolk. These harmful bacteria can grow inside the yolk and lead to food poisoning.
Second, the pickled eggs may go bad if you don’t seal the jar well. Bacteria may penetrate into the pickled eggs whenever the lid is left untightened.
How To Store Pickled Eggs
The best and safest place to store pickled eggs is the fridge.
While you may come across sources that say storing pickled eggs at room temperature is okay, we would recommend storing pickled eggs in the fridge.
The risk of bacterial contamination of pickled eggs is higher when you store them at temperatures higher than 39°F.
Because of this, we recommend not storing your pickled eggs at room temperature. High temperatures and a warm environment create perfect conditions for harmful bacteria to grow.
How Long Do Pickled Eggs Last?
Hard-boiled eggs can last around a week in the fridge. Pickled hard-boiled eggs, on the other hand, last 3-4 months. You should store pickled eggs in the fridge in a container or jar with a tight-sealing lid.
Glass jars are best for preserving pickled eggs. If you are using a plastic container, make sure it is food grade.
You should never use metal containers for pickled eggs and pickling food in general as the acids and salt in the pickling solution will react with metal.
As for store-bought pickled eggs, follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the shelf life and storage conditions of the eggs.
One thing to note is that if in the case of many other products you can still eat them past the printed date, in the case of pickled eggs doing this should be avoided.
It is important to note that 3-4 months is the shelf life of already pickled eggs. It takes the eggs another month to absorb the seasoning.
How long you should allow the eggs to pickle also depends on your preferences and the size of the eggs.
The rule of thumb is to allow large eggs to pickle for 14-28 days. As for small eggs, you can eat them after 7-14 days of seasoning.
Once the eggs are ready and pickled, you can eat them as is or make deviled eggs, salads, and various other side dishes. If you are a big pickled eggs fan, you can use them in pretty much any dish that calls for hard-boiled eggs.
Can You Freeze Pickled Eggs?
Freezing hard-boiled eggs is not a good idea. When the egg whites freeze, they become tough and rubbery, and nearly inedible.
As pickled eggs are essentially hard-boiled eggs but pickled, freezing them is not recommended either.
The shelf life of properly stored pickled eggs is quite long – up to 4 months. If you haven’t eaten them fresh during this time, hardly will you eat them frozen and defrosted.
Make pickled eggs in small batches to avoid any waste and eat the eggs while they are fresh.
Signs That Pickled Eggs Have Gone Bad
If you have pickled the eggs properly and had them in the fridge during the entire seasoning process and after it, the chances that they will go bad are minimal. Unless, of course, you have had the pickled eggs in the fridge for too long.
In any case, you should check pickled eggs for signs of spoilage especially if you have had them for a few weeks.
There are a few signs that give away bad pickled eggs.
- Foul smell. Pickled eggs generally smell like the spice-vinegar solution they have been seasoned in. If you notice unpleasant odor changes, it is best to discard the eggs.
Some people say that homemade pickled eggs smell bad when you have just put them in the seasoning liquid. But the smell should get better as the eggs absorb the vinegar solution.
If it is your first time making pickled eggs, we recommend you smell them during the seasoning process (at least 2 weeks before eating) and as well as when the eggs are already pickled.
Doing this will help you detect odor changes and get rid of the pickled eggs if needed.
- Bubbles. Bubbles throughout the jar are normal when pickling eggs as gases collect in the jar during the fermentation process. However, bubbles on the surface of the pickling solution may be a sign that the pickled eggs are not suitable for consumption.
- Bulging lids. If there is too much acid in the pickling solution, the pressure from inside the jar makes the lid bulge. For safety reasons, the food in cans with bulging lids shouldn’t be consumed.
- Color changes. You should discard pickled eggs if the pickling solution has changed its color. The color changes may be an indication of the presence of fungus in the liquid.
What Happens If You Eat Bad Pickled Eggs?
While some foods don’t present any major health risks even when they have gone bad, this is not the case with pickled eggs.
Bacteria may grow in pickled eggs as a result of using the wrong pickling technique or storing the eggs improperly.
Bacteria like Campylobacter in pickled eggs can lead to food poisoning.
In the worst-case scenario, spoiled pickled eggs may cause botulism. Clostridium botulinum is the bacteria that grows in improperly pickled eggs. The growth of these botulism-causing bacteria is associated with the raised pH of the liquid.
Thus, if you do decide to pickle eggs at home, make sure to learn everything about the pickling process as well as the storage conditions of the eggs.
Always practice food safety and discard the pickled eggs if you are not sure whether they are perfectly good for consumption or contaminated.
How Long Do Pickled Quail Eggs Last?
Similar to chicken eggs, pickled eggs have a shelf life of 3-4 months if stored in the fridge. The difference is that due to their size, pickled eggs take less time to absorb the vinegar.
So, if you want to make pickled eggs but need the seasoning time to be shorter, we recommend you use quail eggs as they take only 7-14 days to pickle.
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