Refrigerator Pickles Vs. Canned Pickles (Comparison)

By - Hs Saini

Updated -

Pickles are best eaten fresh by everyone with a hint of staleness and some level of fermentation. For quite a long time, a few preservation methods were discovered and adopted.

The preservation allows the consumption of this cucumber vegetable for as long as six months.

Despite the various methods, two are mostly patronized; refrigerator and canned storage methods.

In this article, you will understand the differences, similarities, the most healthy, the most preferred, and the ones that last longer.

Consequently, you can decide on your most preferred choice between the two infamous methods.

Refrigerator pickles are stored in a solution of vinegar, sugar, and a little salt in containers in a refrigerator for preservation. On the other hand, canned pickles are placed in jars with acidic solutions with a higher concentration of brine, vinegar, and sugar. Their significant differences are; that canned pickles are stored at 240°F while refrigerator pickles must be below 40°F.

Comparison Between Refrigerator Pickles And Canned Pickles

Refrigerator Pickles Vs. Canned Pickles

There are various similarities and differences between the two ways of pickle preservation. The table below contains information about them.

Refrigerator PicklesCanned Pickles
These pickles, either bread and butter pickles or dill pickles, are stored in jars and kept in the refrigerator.The canned pickles are kept in air-tight jars on shelves at room temperature.
Refrigerator pickles are kept in a brine solution with some vinegar and sugar.Canned pickles also adopt the brine method of storage.
These types are ready to eat anytime as long as you thaw them out and maybe heat them a little.After draining the preservative solution, you can consume canned pickles right out of the jar.
It can serve as a dressing, main meal, or snack.Canned pickles can be bought from the store and heated up in a pan before consumption.

Differences Between Refrigerator Pickles And Canned Pickles

Now, concerning the differences between refrigerator pickles and canned pickles, you must first understand the concept of pickles.

Vegetables easily ferment once exposed to a suitable environment, and the active microorganisms thrive.

Hence, to keep them fresh and healthy for consumption, you must preserve them. It would be best to know that vegetables are perishables for a reason; they do not stay fresh for long.

Generally, pickles refer to any vegetables stored in a slightly acidic solution, just enough to preserve but not harm the consumer.

However, most people prefer to call cucumber pickles, as long as they’re saturated in brine and kept in jars.

Pickles include varieties like onions, carrots, peas, green beans, and even garlic cloves.

Consequently, as long as you store some vegetables soaked in brine and acetic acid, you have some fine pickles.

Now, discussing the obvious and not-so-obvious differences between canned and refrigerator pickles is best.

#1. Refrigerator Pickles Have Lower Acid Concentration Than Canned Pickles

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear concentration most likely involves acids. In this case, vinegar’s main product, acetic acid, is important in preserving foods.

Both refrigerator pickles and canned pickles are stored in jars filled with a slightly acidic solution, and the difference is the concentrations of both mediums.

While pickles in the fridge contain at most 5% acetic acid, canned pickles must be 4% or lower.

Consequently, the more the acidic concentration of the pickle, the less action of microorganisms and the less tendency to spoil.

#2. Canned Pickles Last Longer Than Refrigerator Pickles

The shelf life of canned pickles is at least six months. During this time, fermentation begins with the action of lactobacilli in the acidic medium to give the pickles a slightly sour taste.

However, it does not mean that the pickles are unhealthy to consume because of the fermentation.

Lactobacilli happen to be one of the few bacteria our digestive tracts recognize and act with. The acid in the jar kills any other bacteria that try to get in and further ferment and cause harm.

On the other hand, it’s best to consume refrigerator pickles within fourteen days. Due to the preservation technique and temperature, it’s best to consume it shortly after opening a jar.

The more it comes in contact with air, the more likely it is to encounter microorganisms and the shorter it lasts.

#3. Refrigerator Pickles Are Fresher And More Likely To Be Homemade Than Canned Pickles

You can either decide to make your pickle jar or purchase a few cans from the supermarket. But, of course, when you want to try something new, homemade pickles are worth trying.

Because of the acid concentration of the refrigerator pickles’ brine, it’s usually fresher and most likely consumed quickly.

After all, the refrigerator is where we store foods that we use frequently and are readily available. The same applies to the pickles.

#4. Temperature Difference 

The refrigerator’s temperature is lower than the normal room temperature for obvious reasons;

  • The cold box uses a different method of preservation
  • It preserves food by reducing the temperature, hence hindering micro-bacterial activity.
  • The only requirement is to heat your foods when you wish to use them. But, it would help if you thawed it first to allow the item to release heat to its surroundings. 

Refrigerator pickles are kept at 40°F, while canned pickles are stored at 240°F after water bath canning. So, it’s safe to say that your pickles will be fresh and taste right within these temperatures.

#5. Water Bath Preparation Method Of Canned Pickles

Microorganisms cannot survive in harsh conditions like; extremely hot and cold weather. The bacteria require a suitable humid and moist environment to multiply and turn fresh foods stale.

After the pickles are placed in an airtight container filled with brine and acid solution, it is boiled for about thirty minutes. 

The increased temperature rounds off any bacteria threatening the pickles’ freshness and elimination. This way, the pickles are germ-free and can last for a few months.

Which Is Better Between Refrigerator Pickles And Canned Pickles?

Most people’s presumption of better things is based on assumptions from preferential knowledge or past experiences.

When it comes to canned pickles, one may think it’s better because it lasts longer, while others may not.

Contrarily, refrigerators are patronized because they’re fresher and eaten within a shorter time.

Consequently, it all boils down to which type of pickles you prefer to eat. If you love a little more sour aftertaste on your tongue, then the canned pickles are your best shot.

There’s nothing to worry about, granted that your vinegar’s concentration is suitable for consumption.

Which Last Longer Between Refrigerator Pickles And Canned Pickles?

Canned pickles last longer than refrigerator pickles due to their acid solution concentration and storage temperature.

Refrigerator pickles last as long as two weeks if there are no interruptions in the power supply.

Water bath canning increases the ability of the pickles to stay fresh in airtight containers at room temperature.

So, if you have a knack for pickles and want to have a year-round supply, prepare a batch of canned pickles.

On the other hand, if you’re not a fan but have a party in a few weeks, then refrigerator pickles are ideal. It depends on your preference and how often you include pickles in your menu.

Which Is Healthy Between Refrigerator Pickles And Canned Pickles?

It’s often believed that the fresher the food, the healthier it will be. While this may be true, it is not the general rule, as some diets require more probiotics than others.

Canned pickles undergo fermentation in the acidic brine solution to produce lactobacillus acidophilus probiotic.

Some people’s guts have difficulty making their bacteria while others produce a little bit more. This situation happens because of the differences in individual complexities and needs you must meet.

The lactose enzymes produce gut-healthy bacteria and make digestion better.

But, of course, fresh pickles are rich in a few vitamins and nutrients which improve vision, muscle strength, and conditioning. 

Therefore, you must only consume each variation because of your health needs. Since each different pickle has its unique benefits, it’s left for you to choose between the two of them.

Whichever works best for you doesn’t mean that the other is unhealthy or bad. It means your body knows what it wants.

Final Thoughts

Whether you prefer refrigerator pickles to canned pickles, it doesn’t necessarily mean one is better than the other. Each serves a purpose.

However, the canned pickles last longer than refrigerator pickles due make their higher acidic brine solution concentration. 

As long as the pickle jar remains airtight, you have nothing to worry about yeast fermentation or mold growth.

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