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Are Pickles Acidic? And Bad For Acid Reflux?

One of the most popular condiments enjoyed at picnics and anywhere good food is found, is the pickle. But does it ever occur to you, are pickles acidic?

These sour, sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy, pickled cucumbers are used in a wide range of culinary dishes.

One question that is often asked about this food is whether or not it is acidic.

The first indication that pickles might be acidic is their pungent sour smell and flavor.

Of course, this can be a natural way to identify whether a food is acidic or not, but there are scientific measures that help truly determine the acidity of pickles.

To answer the question of whether pickles are acidic or not, it is helpful to define what acidic and alkaline mean when we are talking about food.

There are chemically ways to test for the acidity of a food like pickles by measuring the pH. Using pH gives an accurate measure of alkalinity/acidity in foods.

Are Pickles Acidic?

Are Pickles Acidic

In short, yes, pickles are indeed acidic. The next question may be, how acidic are they? All pickles, including sweet, sour, and dill are acidic on the pH scale within a range of 3 – 3.6 pH.

A pH rating of 0 is very acidic and not many edible foods have that much acidity.

Certain foods like grains, sugar, some meats, and soda tend to be among the higher acid foods.

What Is pH?

You may have already heard of pH, but if not the term pH in chemistry stands for “potential of hydrogen”. In short, it is simply a way of measuring the acidity or alkalinity of a substance.

The scale ranges from 0 to 14 with 0 being extremely acidic, 7 neutral, and 14 marking maximum alkalinity.

Pickles fall on the pH around the 3 – 3.6 side of the scale. Since 7 is considered to be a neutral rating, pickles are moderately to highly acidic.

Foods that fall below a pH of 4.6 start to be acidic. This makes pickles a moderate to highly acidic food. Lemon juice, vinegar, some citrus fruit, as well as many other foods are high in acidity.

Foods like meats, dairy, and many vegetables tend to be low acid foods.

Adding Acidity

Are Pickles Acidic

Some foods might have citric acid or other ingredients added to raise their acidity. Vinegar is very acidic which is why it is used in many foods to raise their acidity.

Pickles use vinegar as a base ingredient which changes the nature of the cucumbers. Adding acidity to commercial foods is done to prevent botulism and spoilage.

There are foods that are naturally acidic including various fruits like berries, apples, and lemons. If a food is not naturally acidic, adding citric acid or vinegar is the common method of raising acidity.

This is necessary for commercial foods to maintain their freshness past expiration dates.

Pickle Acidity Compared

Some foods are obviously very acidic while other foods are very alkaline. Pickles can be both very acidic and somewhat alkaline depending on what kind they are.

Commercial store bought pickles are acidic and homemade pickles may be more alkaline according to the chart below.

Homemade pickles are made by fermenting them. They are still acidic, but vinegar based commercial pickles will be more acidic.

Homemade pickles are made differently than commercial pickles which may be why they are slightly less acidic than their store bought versions.

All pickles are acidic regardless of how they are made.

What Makes Pickles Acidic?

Pickles get their acidity from the process and ingredients used to make them. The process of soaking cucumbers in a vinegar brine or a traditional fermenting method activates acidity.

The acid helps to reduce harmful microbes which will keep the pickles preserved for a long time.

Pickles can last unopened past their expiration or opened and refrigerated for up to 2 years. This is thanks to their acidity which stops them from spoiling. 

RELATED: Is Mango an Acidic Food? The Truth About Mangoes and Health

Are Pickles Healthy?

Pickles are considered to be a healthy food used in many culinary dishes. Fermented pickles have probiotics making them more healthy than vinegar-based pickles.

However, the commercial vinegar based pickles still have vitamins like vitamin A and B-12. 

The human body can be acidic and alkaline depending on where in the body pH is measured. Some parts of the intestines are more acidic than other parts. Stomach acid plays an important role in properly digesting food.

Eating lacto-fermented foods like pickles can be a benefit for digestion and overall immune health. Lactic acid is formed because of the healthy bacteria created from the fermentation process.

This type of acid raises the acidity of pickles.

How Pickles Are Made

Are Pickles Acidic

Pickles are a pretty simple recipe of cucumbers, salt, vinegar, and water. Other ingredients may be added for flavor or health. Certain types of cucumbers make better pickles than other types of cucumbers.

This is the standard commercial base recipe used for pickles that are found in grocery stores.

Homemade pickles are lacto-fermented in a salt brine which gradually raises their acidity. Lactic acid is formed because friendly bacteria begin to activate in the fermentation process.

This converts non acidic cucumbers into acidic pickles.

The 2 ways of making pickles may differ in ingredients and methods used, but both types of pickles are acidic to varying degrees.

As far as health benefits, fermented pickles are definitely more healthy than commercial vinegar-based pickles.

Will Pickles Cause Digestive Issues?

Foods that are highly acidic tend to react in the stomach by increasing acid which can irritate the lining of the stomach.

Since pickles are acidic and sometimes have spices in them, it is not the most ideal food for people who suffer from gastritis or other digestive conditions.

This does not mean that you can not enjoy pickles if you have these issues, but caution should be used to avoid discomfort.

Commercial pickles get their acidity from the vinegar and salt that is used to make them. Fermented pickles become acidic from the salt brine and fermentation.

Fermented pickles are healthier in many ways than commercial pickles. They can be consumed by some people who have digestive issues.

Digestive Benefits

Even though pickles may not be suitable to eat for some people due to their acidity, many people enjoy drinking pickle juice for health. Drinking pickle juice has been found to have possible health benefits.

The type of juice is important because fermented pickle juice is more beneficial than regular vinegar based pickles that do not ferment.

Some people find relief from heartburn by drinking dill pickle juice. This may seem counterintuitive due to the acidity of the juice, but the addition of dill and the fermentation might add to the curative effects.

Pickles possess some health benefits that include:

  • Probiotics – The first beneficial health factor in pickles and pickle juice are probiotics. Probiotics are a type of microorganism that promote healthy digestive functions and gut health. Probiotics are found in fermented pickles whereas commercial vinegar based pickles do not have probiotics.
  • Blood sugar – A noticeable health effect of pickles and their juice is aiding in regulating blood sugar levels. This is due to the vinegar in vinegar-based pickles.
  • Hangover cure – This may or may not be to your taste, but pickle juice has been used as electrolyte recovery from a hangover. A useful remedy and pick me up.
  • Exercise – Vinegar based pickle juice may work for an exercise electrolyte drink. The salt and vinegar can help keep electrolytes balanced during strenuous exercise. This can help with recovery after workouts too. It is cautioned to not drink too much because of the sodium content in the juice.
  • Metabolism – Because pickles have vinegar in them they may be helpful in regulating metabolism. Vinegar has been found to be a factor in positively affecting metabolism. This effect can be useful for people who are on a diet and are trying to lose weight.

Sweet vs. Sour Acidity

The 2 main types of pickles are sweet or sour. Sour pickles have a noticeable “acid” character so it is easy to guess they may be acidic. But, sweet pickles lack that sourness, so they may not seem acidic. However, sweet pickles are acidic.

Another type of pickle are dill pickles. Dill pickles have dill with possibly other spices and they are acidic like all pickles.

3 Amazing Pickle Recipes

Pickles are often enjoyed on various occasions, be it a picnic, party, or appetizer. However, as we know, pickles are usually sour and are related to being acidic. 

The good news is that pickles contain a pH level between 3 and 3.6, which is manageable and not as acidic as we think. So yes, you can enjoy these fermented pickles by being a little conscious about the contents.

Apart from taste, the pickles are an easy way to store the food for longer and enjoy them in the off-season. 

So, let’s go ahead and check out the three famous pickles recipes here.

Quick Table: Best Pickle Recipes

RecipeCaloriesPreparation Time
Pickled Carrots With Garlic & Cumin3135 Minutes
Pickled Pineapple & Sriracha Grilled Cheese111830 Minutes
Pickled Eggs10220 Minutes

1. Pickled Carrots With Garlic & Cumin

If you are looking for an easy recipe to impress your guests, pickled carrots with garlic and cumin could be a fantastic option. Also, if you love the middle-eastern flavor, adding pickled carrots with it would enhance its authenticity.

These pickled carrots work pretty well with snacks, appetizers, or as a side to vegetables. These pickles are the easiest way to balance the rich and brighter taste on the table.

Calories: 31

Preparation Time: 35 Minutes

RELATED: Does Drinking Hot Water Help Acid Reflux?

2. Pickled Pineapple & Sriracha Grilled Cheese

Are you a fan of pineapple and grilled cheese? If yes, did you ever try to mix them to get a taste that will not only soothe your food cravings but also last long? If not, then do not worry.

We have picked one of the most popular recipes of pickled pineapple along with sriracha grilled cheese to try at your next family gathering.

Upgrade your classic grilled cheese pickled pineapple and serve it with meat dishes to your guest. The spicy, tangy pineapple taste will be a taste that you won’t forget easily.

Calories: 1118

Preparation Time: 30 Minutes

3. Pickled Eggs

Do you love eggs? They are a good source of protein. But did you ever think of trying pickled eggs? Before refrigeration, egg pickling was a method to preserve the eggs for a longer time for a picnic or with an appetizer.

But with time, it turned out to be a recipe to pickle eggs in vinegar to enhance their taste and make them look good along with fine texture with the help of chili flakes, mustard seeds, and turmeric.

Calories: 102

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pickling The Same As Fermenting?

While both methods are ways of preserving food, pickling is not the same as fermenting.

Are Cucumbers Naturally Acidic?

It is true that pickles are acidic, but the primary ingredient of cucumbers are not. Cucumbers are considered to be highly alkaline. The reason they become acidic is because of the pickling process.

Is It Easy To Make Pickles?

Many people enjoy making their own pickles over buying store-bought ones. It is a relatively easy process, and there is an abundance of information regarding the subject available in books, online, or other sources.

Are Dill Pickles Acidic?

Dill pickles are not typically fermented, so they undergo a pickling process. They are acidic like other pickles are.

Recipes To Make When You Are Obsessed With Pickles

5 from 1 vote

Pickles are a popular food item, but are they acidic? Learn more about them to know whether they are a good or bad choice for people with acid reflux.

Directions

  • Pick a recipe from the list above
  • Click the recipe name and visit the website
  • Collect the ingredients and cook the food
  • Enjoy – don’t forget to leave a review
Jess Smith