Do Pickles Have Probiotics in Them? (Claussen, bubbies, Indian, homemade)


does pickles have probiotics

Did you know that fermented foods are a good source of probiotics because they have live bacteria? Since pickles are fermented food, does that automatically mean that they also have probiotics?

The answer actually varies, depending on the kind of pickles you get and the product type. Plenty of pickles contain high probiotic counts (measured as CFUs or colony-forming units), such as 12-18 billion CFUs. However, there are also lots of pickles that don’t have any viable bacteria left because of the pickling or manufacturing process.

So, how will you know if your pickles have probiotics, and which products should you get if you want good bacteria in your food?

Let’s dig deeper into these topics below.

Do Pickles Have Probiotics?

Pickles in glass

Yes, some pickles contain probiotics because they’re created using probiotic bacteria, while others do not. The fermentation process that pickles go through in order to be made into a pickle actually creates probiotics. Pickles that are fermented using a lactic acid starter culture will contain probiotics. However, many commercially available pickles are not fermented and do not contain probiotics.

Let me answer some of your curious questions about pickles and probiotics:

How Many Probiotics are in Pickles?

It’s really difficult to tell how many probiotics are in your pickles, but some brands such as Olive My Pickle Fermented + Probiotic claim that their products are laboratory-proven to contain 13 billion CFUs of probiotics.

Others don’t declare the probiotic content or don’t test their products for the actual amount.

Are Pickles Good For Your Gut?

Yes. Pickles can be good for your gut if they contain probiotics. Pickles are lost in most nutrients except sodium (it has high sodium because of the salt used in the brining process). Its main benefits can be found in the probiotics or good gut bacteria used in the fermentation process.

In a way, fermented pickles (if they contain probiotics) protect your body’s gut microbiome and support the growth of these healthful bacteria in your gut. They can help prevent minor stomach issues and improve digestion.

If you’ve been following my Gut Health Improvement blog, you know that probiotics can even help prevent and/or treat various health issues in and out of your gut:

Do Pickles Kill Good Gut Bacteria?

Yes and no. The answer depends on how the pickles were made. Because good gut bacteria (probiotics) die in acidic environments, pickles made with vinegar kill them. Vinegar is acidic.

Pickles made of brine (salt) don’t kill your good gut bacteria. While many fermented, brine-based pickles don’t contain probiotics, they don’t also kill them. So, they’re safe to eat if you’re concerned about your gut microbiome.

Do Pickles Kill Lactobacillus?

Most pickles are made with Lactobacillus. But whether pickles kill them or not depends on how the pickles are made – just like the answer to the question above.

In short, pickles with vinegar can kill Lactobacillus while pickles without vinegar don’t.

When Should You Take Pickles and Probiotics?

The best time to take probiotics is 30 minutes before a meal. But if you’re eating pickles made with vinegar, you might consider eating something else first.

Stomach acids are harsher than vinegar, so your probiotics already go through the challenge of getting past them to reach your intestines. You can help them out a bit by not adding more acids to attack them along the way.

But you can still eat pickles since your probiotics already had a head start.

Do All Pickles Have Probiotics?

The answer is complicated: some have probiotics and some don’t have any. Because you can’t really see probiotics due to their microscopic nature, it’s really impossible to tell whether the product contains any.

But here’s the rule of thumb:

  • Pickles prepared with vinegar (also called quick pickles) are likely to contain only minimal or even zero probiotics
  • Pickles made with brine and undergo a fermented process (that’s why they’re called fermented pickles) might contain good bacteria or probiotics

There’s a catch: not all fermented pickles have probiotics.

Most canned pickles you’ll find on grocery shelves don’t have probiotics. Either they were prepared using a brine of vinegar and spices or they were heated during the canning process (heat kills the probiotic bacteria).

Some tips to help you pick:

  • Check the label for probiotic content
  • Pick fermented pickles over quick pickles
  • Choose from the refrigerated section (but not all refrigerated pickles contain probiotics)
  • Find a product labeled as “naturally fermented”
  • Avoid canned pickles (they’re probably made with brine but the probiotics might have died in the manufacturing process)

You can also make your own because homemade fermented pickles might have the highest probiotic content! You can find our guide below.

But let’s first take a look at some of the most popular pickle products, and check if they contain probiotics or not. 

Do Indian Pickles Have Probiotics?

Homemade Indian pickles are fermented naturally. They contain probiotic bacteria, plus a mix of spices that are perfect as digestive aids, including mustard, asafetida, and fenugreek.

Take note, however, that this applies to homemade Indian pickles.

The good news is that a 2017 study in the Journal of Food Science and Technology conducted in Himachal Pradesh, India, showed that traditional pickles produced in the area contain probiotics.

The study researchers were able to isolate six probiotic strains that showed potential activity from these Indian pickles:

  • Enterococcus faecalis
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Pediococcus pentosaceus
  • Leuconostoc mesenteroides
  • Lactococcus lactis
  • Enterococcus sp.

Do Claussen Pickles Have Probiotics?

Claussen pickles are a Kosher Certified, vegan, and fat-free food. So, it’s not surprising that they’re a popular snack. However, while they’re not pasteurized and have to be refrigerated, they don’t contain probiotics. 

Unpasteurized products have not been heated to kill off potentially pathogenic or bad bacteria. That isn’t the ultimate indicator of probiotic content in pickles.

Do Grillo’s Pickles Have Probiotics?

No. Grillo’s Pickles don’t go through the fermentation process. Instead, they undergo a “fresh pickling” process that uses vinegar as the main agent. That’s why these products don’t contain active cultures.

Despite not having probiotics, you’ll also find Grillo’s Pickles in the refrigerated section.

Do Homemade Pickles Have Probiotics?

Yes. Homemade pickles can contain probiotics, but only if they’re prepared using fermentation. If you make pickles with vinegar, then the product isn’t likely to have any probiotics. Good gut bacteria (found in probiotics) can die from acid and vinegar is acidic.

Do Refrigerator Pickles Have Probiotics?

Many refrigerator pickles can contain probiotics, but this doesn’t apply to all products or brands.  For example, as I’ve already mentioned above, Claussen pickles don’t have probiotics but they still need to be refrigerated because they’re unpasteurized. 

It’s still good to check the label for probiotic content if you want a product that contains good gut bacteria.

Does Pickle Juice Contain Probiotics?

Like pickles, your pack of pickle juice can also contain probiotics. But that depends on the actual product and the brand.

Plenty of pickle juice products have undergone pasteurization to kill the bad bacteria and make them last longer. But that also kills the good bacteria inside.

Others that don’t use pasteurization might still have enough Lactobacillus content to be viable.

Check for naturally fermented pickle juice if you prefer a product with probiotics to promote gut health.

Studies About Probiotics and Pickles

Traditionally fermented pickles have “microbial diversity” and can contain probiotics, according to a 2020 review in the Journal of Functional Foods.

fermented pickles benefits

There’s diversity in the microbes or probiotics that can be found in pickles.

Lactobacillus strains are commonly used for making pickles, but other probiotic strains are also used. Let’s dive into that below.

What Probiotics are in Pickles?

Pickled Veggies and Fruits

These probiotics are used to make pickled cucumbers, according to the 2020 review mentioned above:

  • Lactobacillus pentosus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus brevis
  • Leuconostoc fallax
  • Leuconostoc mesenteroides
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Pediococcus sp.
  • Enterococcus faecalis

Chinese pickles use Lactobacillus plantarum.

Sweet potato pickles also use Lactobacillus plantarum, but can also contain Leuconostoc mesenteroides.

Pickled carrots can have the following probiotic species:

  • Lactobacillus
  • Streptococcus
  • Pediococcus

Radish pickles contain the following:

  • Pediococcus pentosaceus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus brevis
  • Leuconostoc sp.

Different pickled fruits, such as pickled peaches and sweet cherries, can contain the following probiotics:

  • Leuconostoc mesenteroides
  • Pediococcus acidilactici
  • Pediococcus pentosaceus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum

The probiotics mentioned above can also be found in fish and meat pickles – yes, such things exist! Let’s look into their probiotic contents below.

Pickled Fish and Meat

Probiotics in fish pickles include the following:

  • Bacillus sp. (including Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus pumilus)
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactococcus lactis
  • Leuconostoc mesenteroides
  • Lactobacillus amylophilus
  • Lactobacillus fructosus
  • Lactobacillus coryniformis subsp. Torques
  • Micrococcus sp.
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Enterococcus faecalis
  • Pediococcus pentosaceus
  • Weissella confusa
  • Candida chiroptera rum
  • Candida bombicola
  • Saccharomycopsis sp.

Be careful in eating fish pickles, however. The 2020 review warns that these food products can contain pathogenic bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus sp.

Some of the probiotics you can find in meat pickles:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus curvatus
  • Lactobacillus pentosus
  • Lactobacillus sakei
  • Pediococcus acidilactici
  • Pediococcus pentosaceus

Here’s a summary of the probiotic strains you might find in picked veggies and fruits or meat and fish:

Probiotic StrainsPickled Veggies and FruitsPickled Meat and Fish
Bacillus pumilusFish pickles
Bacillus sp. Fish pickles
Bacillus subtilisFish pickles
Candida bombicolaFish pickles
Candida chiroptera rumFish pickles
Enterococcus faecalisIndian pickles, pickled cucumbersFish pickles
Enterococcus faeciumFish pickles
Enterococcus sp.Indian pickles
Lactobacillus amylophilusFish pickles
Lactobacillus brevisPickled cucumbers, radish pickles
Lactobacillus caseiMeat pickles
Lactobacillus coryniformis subsp. TorquesFish pickles
Lactobacillus curvatusMeat pickles
Lactobacillus fructosusFish pickles
Lactobacillus pentosusPickled cucumbersMeat pickles
Lactobacillus plantarumIndian pickles, pickled cucumbers, Chinese pickles, sweet potato pickles, radish pickles, pickled peaches, and sweet cherriesFish pickles, meat pickles
Lactobacillus sakeiMeat pickles
Lactobacillus sp.Pickled carrots
Lactococcus lactisIndian picklesFish pickles
Leuconostoc fallaxPickled cucumbers
Leuconostoc mesenteroidesIndian pickles, pickled cucumbers, sweet potato pickles, pickled peaches, and sweet cherriesFish pickles
Leuconostoc sp.Radish pickles
Micrococcus sp.Fish pickles
Pediococcus acidilacticiPickled peaches and sweet cherriesMeat pickles
Pediococcus pentosaceusIndian pickles, radish pickles, pickled peaches, and sweet cherriesFish pickles, meat pickles
Pediococcus sp.Pickled cucumbers, pickled carrots
Saccharomyces cerevisiaePickled cucumbers
Saccharomycopsis sp.Fish pickles
Streptococcus sp.Pickled carrots
Weissella confusaFish pickles

Top Benefits of Pickles with Probiotics

Food preferences can vary from one individual to another, but if you want to maximize the benefits of probiotics in your body, it’s a good idea to pick pickles with good gut bacteria.

Some of the top benefits of these pickles, according to the 2020 review I mentioned above:

  • Keep your gut healthy
  • Promote balance in your gut microbiome
  • Aid in better digestion
  • Reduce the incidence of diabetes and obesity
  • Can fight other diseases (with the vitamins you get from pickled fruits and veggies)
  • Boost your immune system and prevent cellular damage

Best Pickle Brands with Probiotics

Not all pickle brands are created equal – and not all have probiotics (we’ve already established that). So, here are my favorites:

  • Olive My Pickle Fermented + Probiotic – The brand boasts of lab-verified probiotics in their pickles, particularly 13 billion CFUs of probiotics Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus Pentosus, and Leuconostoc Mesenteroids
  • Oregon Brineworks – According to the brand’s FAQs, their raw, naturally fermented foods (like their pickles) are “full of probiotic bacteria” that can contribute to digestive health, aid in detoxification, and boost immune function; the actual probiotics in their products aren’t listed but Lactic acid bacteria are used for their fermentation process
  • Bubbies Kosher Dill Pickles – According to the brand’s FAQ section, Bubbies products are fermented using “naturally present and live bacterial cultures,” although they don’t test the actual amount or number of live cultures in their products

Another way to get probiotics from pickles is to make your own at home. Let me tell you how you can do that in the next section.

How to Make Homemade Pickles with Probiotics

Some tips when pickling at home:

  • Choose cucumbers that are fresh and damage-free; make sure they’re firm
  • If you can, use only pickling or canning salt; other salts are still usable but they can cloud up your brine
  • Be sure to sterilize your containers to ensure that there aren’t any bad bacteria left that can grow in your pickles
  • Keep your pickle jars sealed until you’re ready to eat the delicious pickles you made
  • Stick to the preparation instructions to reduce the risks of contamination with bad bacteria

Ingredients:

  • Pickling cucumbers (organic cucumbers are ideal but not required; you can also choose carrots, radishes, etc.)
  • Fresh herbs and spices (also optional; you can pick your own but my preferences include peppercorns, cloves, garlic, and dill)
  • Kale or cabbage (to cover the veggies)
  • Around 4 tbsp of salt per 10 pieces of cucumbers
  • Filtered water
  • Mason jars (preferably 16-oz, but any will also do)

Preparation Instructions:

Step #1 – Sterilize Your Mason Jars

Put the mason jars, including the lids, inside a pot with water. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil.

Let boil for 10 minutes. 

Step #2 – Prepare Your Ingredients

Wash your cucumbers (carrots or radishes) thoroughly. 

Cut them in the size and shape you like. For example, you can make them thinner if you like using them in your sandwiches or burgers, but you can also cut them into sticks if you prefer munching on them as a snack.

Dissolve the salt in the filtered water. This is called salt water or brine solution.

Step #3 – Make Your Pickles

Arrange the sliced cucumbers or carrots inside the mason jars. Once the jar is filled with your veggies, add the brine solution but leave a space of about half an inch to the top.

Push the kale or cabbage leaves on top to just below the water level at the top of your veggies. These leaves can help keep your cucumbers nicely submerged in the brine solution.

Make sure to close the mason jars tightly, then leave them on the counter for up to 9 days. Don’t refrigerate yet.

Step #4 – Enjoy Your Pickles

Once the 9 days are up, you can discard the leaves you placed on top of your cucumbers (or other veggies you chose).

Some mold might form on the leaves exposed to air. That’s fine. Make sure it doesn’t get submerged back in your pickles.

Enjoy your homemade pickles. 

They’ll continue fermenting and you can get more probiotics the longer it gets.  Just make sure to store them in the fridge and consume them within 4 months. 

But be sure to discard if you find molds growing inside the jars.

FAQs

What Kind Of Pickles Have Probiotics?

Pickles that are made with brine solution (salt and water) can contain probiotics as long as they weren’t added with vinegar (acid) or pasteurized (heat).

If unsure, check the label to see whether your product contains any.

Where To Find Fermented Pickles In The Grocery Store?

Fermented pickles are usually found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

Can You Continue Eating Pickles While Taking Probiotics?

Yes. However, be sure to wait at least 30 minutes (better yet, 2 hours) after taking probiotics before eating pickles that have vinegar. 

Do Fermented Pickles Have Probiotics?

Yes. Fermented pickles are made using brine solution, so they potentially have probiotics. However, there’s no guarantee that the probiotic content is high enough to be viable. 

Do Store-Bought Pickles Have Probiotics?

Some store-bought pickles can have probiotics, but not all of them have. Check the label or choose from my recommendations above.

Do Pickles Help Gut Bacteria?

Yes. Aside from having good gut bacteria from the fermentation process, pickles are also rich in prebiotics, a type of fiber that they can feed on.

So, eating pickles can bring more probiotics to your gut and also provide your probiotics with more food. A win-win situation there, if you ask me.

Brenda L. Mosley

Hi, Brenda here, I have been a health advocate and writer with 10 years of experience in health and nutrition. I also hold a BS in Nutrition Science and am based in Massachusetts with my family. My mission is to impact the world using my health and nutrition experience by sharing, writing, and educating on the internet - and offline too when possible. When I'm not busy writing or engaging in health forums and groups - you'll find me spending time with my 3 kids, eating, or reading literary fiction books.

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