How Long Do Home-Canned Pickled Onions Really Last?

Home canning and pickling are a great way to make your garden's bounty last through the rest of the year. Whether you've got way too many onions or just really enjoy the pickled variety, you might be wondering how long they will stay good for. After all, food safety is paramount when it comes to home-canned goods. When done properly, your unopened home-canned pickled onions are shelf-stable for one year. Although some university extension programs say that with proper storage, you can stretch that up to two years for lower acidity foods — which onions are — the USDA gives a 12-month maximum for anything canned at home.

Of course, once that jar of pickled onions has been opened, it will need to be refrigerated. And while it might be tempting to keep them cold until they're used up, the USDA gives all opened home-canned goods a pretty short window: Just three to four days in the fridge.

Make those pickled onions last

As with all home-canned foods, you will want to maximize your pickled onion's shelf life. Do so by following all canning instructions to a T. And always use a recipe that has been scientifically tested and approved. Failure to do so could lead to serious illness, including botulism, which can easily go undetected in improperly canned foods and can be fatal. Additionally, any canned food that smells or appears questionable should be thrown out immediately without tasting. Although some hissing is normal when opening goods canned under pressure, always toss a jar that spurts or hisses excessively.

Temperature, light, and humidity can all affect how long your home-canned pickled onions last, so be sure to store them somewhere that is dark and dry with a cool, even temperature. Fluctuations that can lead to freezing or overheating will cause them to go bad prematurely, so choose your storage location carefully. Always refrigerate pickled onions right away after opening, preferably with an opened-on date so that you know when their time in the fridge is up (just as they should be dated when they are first canned).

Putting those pickled onions to use

Pickling works well for white, yellow, and red onions alike. Which type of onions you choose to pickle will naturally affect how they taste and what you use them for. And if you're not up for the canning process, they can even be pickled and stored in the refrigerator — though, in this case, you'll want to use them up within a couple of weeks.

Pickled red onions are excellent on salads, sandwiches, and wraps. They make awesome garnishes for roasted meats, and they're amazing in tacos and chicken quesadillas as well. Any type of pickled onion will go great in potato salad, but the red ones are best for a fun burst of color. Pickled yellow or white onions will also add a delicious tang to your BBQ, or sub them out for pearl onions in a tasty cocktail. With so many uses, it shouldn't be hard to gobble up those home-canned pickled onions before they expire. Before you know it, it'll be time to make another batch.