Have my pickles gone bad?

I have a jar of (store-bought) pickled gherkins (cucumbers) which were probably opened a couple of months ago, although they’ve been in a fridge the whole time. I was hoping to eat some soon, but there’s a slightly cloudy “sediment” forming on top of them. Last time I ate some they were a little softer than I expected, too. Am I too late? I don’t normally worry about pickled products that have been refrigerated, but it’s always possible I’ve let some kind of contamination in, and I don’t have faith in the acidity of the liquid.

While I’m at it, maybe someone can answer a question I’ve wondered for some time. If I have a jar of anything preserved in vinegar, brine or similar, does it matter if parts don’t stay submerged? Freshly-opened jars of pickles, olives, etc. often seem too full for the good parts to remain fully covered by whatever solution they’re in.

Did they taste “extra” salty?
If so, the “cloud” was probably the result of too much salt being used in the brine when they jarred the pickles. If so, it may be OK. However, it the taste is “off”, just toss them as it’s not worth getting food poisoning over a $3-4 jar of pickles.

Pickles do go bad after many months (there’s usually a SELL BY/USE BY date which is mainly related to their taste) so they should be consumed within a reasonable time after purchase and especially after opening.

My guess is mold of some kind. The salt & acidity should be enough to keep any bad bacteria inhibited- it’s why things were pickled in the first place!

If the items are canned in a brine, then it doesn’t really matter if a little bit is sticking out of the brine before they’re opened. I’d probably eat down the olives(or whatever), or add some brine or vinegar to boost the level above the stuff in the jar after they’re opened though.

The sediment is probably yeast. This is most common with fermented pickles, but can also happen with vinegar pickles. In any case, it’s harmless.

I also wouldn’t worry if the pickles are little soft, although they might not be as pleasant to eat. I wouldn’t eat really mushy or slippery pickles - that might indicate spoilage. If you make your own pickles, one thing that can turn them mushy is leaving the blossom end intact (the blossom has enzymes that can cause softening), but I wouldn’t expect this to be a problem with commercially-made pickles.

As for keeping pickles submerged - once they are thoroughly pickled, the salt and acid level in the pickles should be high enough to prevent spoilage from exposure to air. In my experience, though, the exposed parts can dry out and lose crispness.

Thanks for all your answers. I think I’ll give them a go.

I don’t think they’re particularly salty, although I had never considered it before - they’re kind of sweet. It does look like the sediment could be yeast. At first I thought mould - it looked almost like wispy strands attached to the pickles themselves, but I think it’s just of a similar density to the rest of the liquid so it floats as if it’s attached like seaweed.

Why? Are they revolting?:stuck_out_tongue: