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A few years ago, I got a wild hair and pickled some sweet and hot peppers out of my garden.

It's been a while, but I remember buying the correct implements and ingredients and following a procedure I got from (I think) a Ball pickling instruction book.

The pickled peppers have been in the cabinet this whole time, mostly forgotten.

I'm going to move this week, and we found the peppers when cleaning out our kitchen cabinets. I was going to throw them out, then I got curious. I looked at the peppers, and through the glass, all appears to be fine. There's no mold that I can see. No foaming. The brine (?) is clear. The peppers are still pretty brightly colored.

I opened one jar (glass Ball-brand mason jar with 2-piece lid), and there was still suction keeping the lid down. The peppers smell good and pickled, just as I would expect a store-bought jar to smell.

Now, I'm kinda terrified of botulism. That's one reason the pickled peppers stayed in the cabinet all this time. I know I had good instructions at the time, and I followed them, but the "what if" idea just has me a bit scared.

On the other hand, it would be a shame to miss out on some good pickled peppers if there's nothing wrong with them.

So, given that a good deal of time has elapsed, are there any methods to tell whether botulism is present in them? Anything else that I should worry about?

  • I'm not posting this as an answer because I'm sure someone else will provide more detail, but... it sure sounds like you've avoided most of the red flags. There's an element of risk present in any home preparation, but it's pretty minimal if you follow a tested recipe correctly and there are no evident signs of spoilage. The only completely safe answer is to throw these out, but then again the safest way to travel is to never leave your home. – logophobe Apr 22 '15 at 20:38
  • I wouldn't have thought botulism in a pickle would ever be of concern. The high acidity will kill it, especially over a 2 year span. – Doug Apr 22 '15 at 22:26
  • My concern wouldn't be botulism, but texture. If you leave things in a pickle brine for too long, they just get mushy. They might be okay as a flavoring in something else where you don't want any texture, but as the original ingredient they're kinda nasty. It's quite possible that the brine is more useful as an ingredient than the peppers at this point. – Joe Apr 23 '15 at 14:25
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Gas production is one of the biggest signs of botulism. Botulism also doesn't like strongly acidic solutions. Your pickled peppers sound safe.

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