How Long Will Home-Canned Pickled Jalapeños Stay Fresh And Spicy?

Pickled jalapeños are the perfect addition to sandwiches, salads, and nachos. They're spicy, of course, but they can also be tangy with a hint of sweetness, depending on how you pickle them. And a little goes a long way; one jar should last you a while. If you're interested in pickling jalapeños at home, it's well worth it, because you'll have plenty of time to use them. Those pickled peppers should last around two months if they're properly stored in the refrigerator.

Pickling extends the shelf life of fruits and vegetables by soaking them in a blend of vinegar and salt. But you should add other sweet elements, such as sugar, to prevent them from getting too tangy. 

The spice level might dull a bit during the pickling process, so depending on how hot you want the peppers, look for heat marks on the produce. They're thin, white-yellow cracks that resemble stretch marks. The more a pepper has, the hotter it is.

Home-canned pickled jalapeños should last a while in the refrigerator

If you've ever grown jalapeños at home, you know that one plant yields a ton of these spicy little peppers. It's not uncommon to find yourself left with plenty of peppers at the end of the season. And if you're not planning to preserve those jalapeños in the freezer, pickling is an easy way to prevent them from going bad. 

Salt naturally cures food and vinegar is loaded with acid, which creates the perfect storm for preventing bacteria growth. Fresh jalapeños will last around one week in the refrigerator. But once you pickle them, they'll stay their best quality for two months but could even be safe to eat after that.

Make sure that all of the peppers are fully submerged in the liquid when you store them. That liquid is what harbors the acid, so if the peppers aren't submerged, they'll still go bad. Expect to use around two cups of pickling liquid for every one pound of peppers.

How to tell if pickled jalapeños have gone bad

As with most expired foods, your senses are the best way to tell whether the peppers are safe to eat. As fresh jalapeños don't come with an expiration date, the color and appearance of both the peppers and the liquid is important. 

If the peppers have been sitting in the refrigerator for a long time, the liquid might appear foggy, and the peppers will have lost a lot of their color. And definitely check for any funky smells, too. Mold and bacteria often come with a weird smell, so if you open the can and notice the peppers don't smell as good as they once did, it's a strong sign you should throw them out.

If you can't tell from the look or smell, feel the peppers. You'll know right away if they've gone bad based on whether their texture feels slimy or overly soft. Ultimately, if the peppers are alarming any of those three senses, it's best to just throw them away. Thankfully, growing jalapeños is an affordable hobby, and they tend to be inexpensive at the grocery store. So replacing them with freshly pickled ones is the safest bet.