Pickled eggs are peeled and hard-boiled eggs that you can store for a long time, allowing you to eat them whenever you want as a snack or as part of a meal. When we say whenever we want, however, you should note that there are still a few restrictions, conditions and time limits in place.
You can go through the following sections to figure out how long pickled eggs can last, how you should store them, how to check if they have gone bad, and some other related information.
Is It Possible for Pickled Eggs to Become Unsafe to Eat?
Pickled eggs can last for a long time due to the way you prepare them. After boiling the eggs, you can keep them in a solution that is full of vinegar (or brine), salt, spices and other additions that you might want to add.
While eggs themselves are quite quick and easy to spoil and perish, keeping them in this kind of pickling solution can extend their lifespan considerably.
This is mainly because this solution has the ability to hinder the growth and spread of dangerous bacteria. Instead, this brine facilitates the growth of healthy bacteria that can help preserve the eggs and prevent spoilage for a long time.
While this might make it sound impossible for the eggs to spoil, they do, in fact, end up becoming bad and unsafe to consume after a certain point considering the number of times you will keep opening up the jar.
Some of this might have to do with the storage conditions or even the pickling process. For instance, if you keep prodding the eggs before placing them in the solution, you might expose them to harmful bacteria. Keeping the cap too loose can make them go bad sooner than expected as well.
Additionally, over time, your pickled eggs will become prone to botulism (which can also lead to a fatal disease of the same name) due to the controlled pH levels, lack of oxygen and a high amount of solution in the jar, causing the bacterium called Clostridium botulinum to grow and thrive.
Storage Conditions for Pickled Eggs
While your pickled eggs cannot last forever, there are ways in which you can extend their shelf life or lifespan. One of the main ways to do this is to ensure that you store them in the right conditions that can help delay the growth of the dangerous bacteria.
You should always store your pickled eggs in the refrigerator to help maintain the quality of your pickled eggs. Never store them at room temperature or even keep them out at room temperature for more than two hours (maximum).
This is because room temperatures can put your pickled eggs in the danger zone of 40°F-140°F, wherein harmful bacteria can thrive and grow rapidly within minutes.
Keeping the pickled eggs at room temperature can also considerably hasten the development of the bacteria that can cause botulism, which can then create chronic and even fatal health issues.
Before and during storage, you should also take care of several things that can help keep you and your eggs safe and healthy. Some of these include the following:
- Make sure you always keep your hands and the jar clean. You should ensure this both while and after pickling. Sterilize the pickling container using warm water before introducing the solution and eggs to it.
- Whenever you want to remove the container from the fridge for eating, make sure you take out what is required and return the container to the fridge immediately. Eat the eggs quickly as well.
- Keep the eggs untouched in the container for around 2-3 weeks (depending on the size of the eggs) until they can become seasoned enough for eating.
- Do not make holes in the eggs before pickling since this can make them vulnerable to bacteria. Make sure you always tighten the cap of the container as well. Use the right kinds of containers for pickling such as glass or ceramic but not metal.
- Make sure you boil the eggs thoroughly. They should be perfectly hard-boiled.
These storage conditions apply to both homemade pickled eggs.
According to the USDA, if you have bought these pickled eggs from the store and have not yet opened them up, you can keep them on the shelf for a few months, but make sure you keep them in the fridge immediately after opening and use them up quickly. Do check what the label says just to make sure.
The lifespan of Pickled Eggs
Pickled eggs that meet all the aforementioned requirements and conditions can last in the fridge and can be safe to consume for 3-4 months after you are done pickling and seasoning them. This will help you get the best possible taste and quality from the eggs.
If it has been more than 4 months, you should ideally not try to eat them anymore as this can put you at risk of infections and diseases.
If you are using store-bought pickled eggs, then you can expect them to last you for roughly the same period of time on the shelf as long as you haven’t opened them. Once you open them, however, you should refrigerate them and consume them within a week.
Related: How Long Can Eggs Be Out of the Fridge?
Is It Okay to Freeze Pickled Eggs?
Ideally, you should not freeze pickled eggs because freezing can change their texture completely and make them quite strange to eat. The eggs, pickled or not, will end up becoming chewy, rough, hard from the outside and will develop a grainy texture that can then be difficult to undo.
It is best to simply leave your pickled eggs in the fridge and eat them while they’re still safe and fresh. Freezing them can take away the freshness and the quality, even though it might do wonders for the lifespan of other kinds of foods.
If you are worried about the quantity of the pickled eggs, then it might be better to give them away to your friends and family instead of freezing them if you think you cannot consume them within four months.
This is why it might simply be best to pickle your eggs a few at a time to ensure that you do not have to throw the extra ones out.
How to Tell If Pickled Eggs Are No Longer Safe
If you are unsure about the safety and quality of your pickled eggs, even if you kept them in the fridge, you can simply take a look and check them out to see if they look or feel strange. Some ways to check include the following:
- Smelling the pickled eggs might leave you confused since the pickling solution will give off a sour smell anyway. However, if you are used to smelling the eggs frequently, then you will be able to notice a poor smell or odor, in which case you should throw the eggs out.
- See if the texture of the eggs feels extra tough and hard to break apart. If it does, the eggs have gone bad.
- If the eggs are more than 4 months old, throw them out. It is best to mark the container beforehand to know how old they are.
- If the color is different in any way or if there are signs of mold, throw the eggs out.
- If the cap of the container seems to be jutting out, the eggs have gone bad.
Also, check: How Long Does Egg Salad Last? And How To Keep It Safe
Can Consuming Bad Pickled Eggs Create Problems?
Yes, they can create problems in your gastrointestinal system, leading to diarrhea, poisoning, nausea, pain, discomfort or even diarrhea.
This is only the least disturbing of your problems if you eat bad pickled eggs. If they are too old or have gone quite bad, then they can lead to botulism that can lead to trouble speaking, breathing, swallowing or even paralysis and death.
It is, therefore, essential for you to be extremely careful and cautious when it comes to pickled eggs.
The Lifespan of Pickled Quail Eggs
If you are using quail eggs for pickling, there isn’t much of a difference when it comes to their lifespan. They can last in the fridge for up to four months. However, the seasoning time for the quail eggs can take only a week or two, so make sure you calculate the 3-4 months accordingly.
This is different from regular eggs that can sometimes even take a month to season, especially if big.
Further Reading: What Do Ostrich Eggs Taste Like And How To Cook Them