Unlike with fresh jalapenos, with pickled jalapenos, the flavor of the chili peppers is altered, and their shelf life is also extended. You would think that pickled foods such as jalapenos would last indefinitely, and yet they can go bad if the sealing of the jar is damaged in any way.
There is more to food storage than meets the eye, and if the ratio of salt to vinegar isn’t right or the pickled jalapenos are exposed to air, your jalapenos aren’t going to be edible.
Bacteria can so easily be introduced to spoil your jalapenos, but those that are kept in the fridge will certainly last a much longer time once the jar has been opened. Unfortunately, once a jar is opened and air enters the jar, the jalapenos lose flavor, color, and texture.
Jalapenos add awesome flavor to food
Jalapenos are medium-sized chile peppers that are about 3 inches long and are typically picked while still green. Sometimes they ripen before being picked, and then they turn a yellow, red, or orange color.
With their mild to moderate amount of heat, these peppery chiles are used to flavor many foods. The various peppers can differ in their heat, but the hottest ones are grown in Mexico and are used to make spicy dishes such as salsa.
In the United States, they are often pickled and used to spice up hamburgers.
When your jalapenos are no longer safe to eat
Jalapenos are pickled using vinegar, salt, water, sugar, and garlic, with the vinegar and salt acting as natural preservatives.
Pickled jalapenos are known to last a long time whether the jar is opened or unopened. So, how does one tell if your jalapenos have gone bad and are no longer good to eat?
- Unopened pickled jalapenos can last up to 5 years
Pickled jalapenos in a glass jar should last a long time as they’ve gone through a canning process, which helps preserve the pickles. Commercially canned jalapenos have a long shelf life, and if you keep the jar sealed in a cool, dark place, they can last up to 3 to 5 years.
As soon as you’ve opened the jar, it has to be refrigerated to prevent the growth of mold. Even if your pickled jalapenos have been refrigerated, you can’t just assume they will be edible.
A date on the bottle indicates quality
Commercially packaged pickled jalapenos will have a mark on them, usually on the neck of the bottle, that says “Best By” or gives an expiration date, but this isn’t a safety date, but rather the manufacturer’s estimate of how long the pickled peppers will remain at their best.
How to Tell if Pickled Jalapenos Have Gone Bad
So, how do you know if your opened pickled peppers are bad? The best way is to smell them and look at the pickled jalapenos. Certainly, if they have an odd smell and look off-color, they should be thrown out.
If you see mold inside your pickled jalapeno jar and there is an unpleasant, rancid odor, it is a clear indication that harmful bacteria have set in. Never attempt to salvage them and eat the few that have escaped the mold.
Consuming them can cause terrible harm to you – diarrhea and vomiting. Even if there is no mold, a bad smell is telling you that the jalapenos can now be harmful to you if you eat them.
- Bulging lids
Foods packed in glass bottles that come into contact with air no longer store well. Air contains oxygen, which oxidizes the compounds in food. Because oxygen can cause food spoilage, food storage companies must have a variety of processes in place to remove it.
Oxidative spoilage is the primary cause of bad-smelling food. Off-odors from spoilage are pungent, often having a fishy smell. The whole purpose of a safety button on the lid of bottled goods is for customers to recognize spoilage in the contents of the jar.
If bacteria get into the jar, gas is produced, which causes the safety button to pop up. It’s telling you that the contents of the jar aren’t safe to consume.
- Change of Color
Pickled jalapeños will last for up to six months if you keep them in the refrigerator and in a tightly sealed container. If you’re wanting to use your pickled jalapenos after this time and you detect a change in color, it could mean that fungus is present.
You will notice that the pickles are no longer bright in color, but they have instead become soft, dull and a brownish color. The brine too also looks cloudy. It is quite likely time for you to admit your jalapenos need to be thrown out.
Use your senses to determine if your pickled jalapenos are edible
Pickled jalapenos can go bad, but whether they do depends on certain factors, such as the way they are prepared and stored. To make pickled jalapenos, home cooks or commercial manufacturers immerse the jalapenos in brine water and vinegar.
The jar they are in is sealed tightly. Pickled jalapenos can last for a long time unopened, but once opened, they must be refrigerated. You can use your senses to determine whether your pickled jalapenos are safe to eat.
If you see that the brine liquid is discolored and you can smell that they’re no longer fresh, there may be mold in the jalapeno jar. How can you tell if pickled jalapenos have gone bad?
Jalapeno peppers that are starting to go bad soften, they become discolored, and they have a nasty smell to them. Then it’s time to quietly throw the entire jar into the trash and buy a new bottle of fresh, tasty, spicy jalapenos.