5 Fermented Pickle Brands for Gut and Mental Health (Are Claussen Pickles Fermented?)

Last Updated on April 9, 2024 by Lindsay Delk, RDN

Fermented pickles, or probiotic pickles, are becoming more and more popular as people learn about the amazing gut benefits of fermented foods. Fermented pickles are a great source of probiotics, which can help improve gut health. And improved gut health leads to improved mental health.

But there is some confusion around which brands of pickles are fermented and how to tell if a brand of pickle is fermented or not. Let’s discuss the benefits of fermented pickles and other fermented foods and the top fermented pickle brands to look for.

This post was written by Lindsay Delk, RDN. It is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice or instructions given by your healthcare provider. 

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Cucumbers and other ingredients in glass jars to make pickles

What Are Fermented Foods?

Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of fermentation. You can ferment a variety of different ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, and even milk (which makes yogurt and kefir).

During fermentation, the food is exposed to bacteria or yeast, which causes it to break down and create new compounds. These new compounds can add flavor and nutrition to the food as well as beneficial psychobiotics/probiotics (good bacteria) that can support gut health.

Some common fermented foods include:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut (unpasteurized)
  • Fermented pickles (unpasteurized)
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Kombucha

Fermented foods have been around for centuries, and they continue to be popular today. Many people enjoy the taste of fermented foods as well as the health benefits that they can provide.

If you’re interested in trying fermented foods, there are many easy recipes that you can try at home. You can also find a variety of fermented foods at most grocery stores.

Pickled vs. Fermented

Many people use the terms pickling and fermenting interchangeably, but they are two distinct processes. Pickled foods and fermented foods are not the same.

Pickling

Pickling, also known as brining, involves covering the food in a solution of salt and vinegar. The vinegar is an acid. The vinegar prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and preserves the food.

But the acid in the vinegar also prevents the growth of beneficial bacteria (the probiotics). While pickling can enhance the taste and extend the shelf life of foods, it does not support the probiotics associated with fermented foods.

Fermenting

Fermentation involves exposing the food to beneficial bacteria or yeast (probiotics). These microorganisms eat the sugars in the food, converting them into other substances like lactic acid. This process not only preserves the food but also enriches it with gut-friendly probiotics. Fermented foods do not have vinegar.

To sum up, while both methods extend the shelf life of foods, fermentation also confers additional health benefits through the creation of probiotics.

The Gut Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

There is growing evidence that consuming fermented foods can benefit gut health. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that line the gut and support digestive health.

These probiotics:

  • Help to balance the gut microbiota, which can lead to improved digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Help to reduce inflammation and promote overall gut health
  • Help to treat and prevent a variety of digestive issues, including constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Many fermented foods are also a great source of fiber. Fiber is essential for good gut health as it helps to keep the gut flora healthy and functioning properly.

Lastly, antioxidants present in fermented foods can help to protect the gut from damage caused by free radicals. They can also help to maintain the integrity of the gut lining.

Smiling woman standing in a sunflower field

Mental Health Benefits through the Gut-Brain Axis

There is a growing body of research that suggests a strong link between gut health and mental health. This link may be due to the fact that the gut and brain are both part of the nervous system.

The gut is home to trillions of bacteria, which play an important role in gut health. You want the good bacteria to outnumber the bad bacteria to stay balanced. Studies have shown that imbalanced gut bacteria can lead to problems with mental health.

Gut-brain axis

The gut-brain axis is a term used to describe the communication between the gut and brain. This communication is important for mental health because there is a strong link between gut health and mental health.

The gut-brain axis is a communication pathway between the gut and brain that allows for the exchange of information between these two organs.

The gut-brain axis is thought to play a role in mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Gut inflammation has been linked with these disorders, and the gut-brain axis may be involved in the development of these conditions.

The gut-brain axis is a complex system, and we have much to learn about its role in mental health.

However, this area of research is growing, and we are starting to understand the importance of the gut-brain connection for maintaining mental health.

Fermented foods and mental health

Fermented foods are a great way to support the gut-brain axis and promote mental health.

They can boost the gut microbiome (all the microorganisms living in the gut) to have a beneficial effect on mental health.

Research shows that the probiotics in fermented foods are beneficial for mood, anxiety, and depression. Some studies show that people who eat more fermented foods have lower levels of depression and anxiety, especially social anxiety.

One study found that those who ate the most fermented foods were less likely to suffer from depression than those who ate few or no fermented foods.

There is still much to learn about the link between gut health and mental health, but it is clear that they are closely connected. By keeping your gut healthy, you can help to maintain your mental health as well.

Are Pickles Fermented? Are Pickles Probiotic?

Only some pickles are fermented, and only some pickles are probiotic. If the pickles are made by fermenting cucumbers in a brine solution of water and salt, the good bacteria feed off the sugars in the cucumber to produce lactic acid. This lactic acid is what gives fermented pickles their sour flavor and helps create an environment where beneficial probiotic bacteria can thrive. These are pickles with probiotics.

If the pickles are in vinegar or heated to a high temperature during manufacturing/processing, the acid in the vinegar or the heat will kill the probiotics. Not all pickles contain viable probiotics, so it’s important to check the label and understand how to pick fermented and probiotic pickles.

How to Tell if Pickles Are Fermented & Have Probiotics

There are really only two major types of pickles: vinegar pickles and fermented pickles.

  • Vinegar pickles are made with…you guessed it – vinegar.
  • Fermented pickles undergo fermentation with the bacteria naturally found in the cucumbers.

So, do pickles have probiotics? Fermented pickles have probiotics and are a probiotic food (if they are not pasteurized), while vinegar pickles do not have probiotics.

If the pickles are pasteurized, the heat will kill the probiotics. Therefore, fermented pickles with probiotics must be refrigerated. Shelf-stable pickles, such as Vlasic and Mt. Olive, don’t have probiotics.

One of the best ways to know if pickles have probiotics is to check the label. If vinegar is listed as an ingredient, then they will not have the probiotics. Also, the label should have the words “fermented,” “unpasteurized,” and/or “probiotic.”

5 Fermented Pickle Brands (Probiotic Pickles Brands) to Look For

Eating fermented pickles is one way to incorporate more fermented foods into your regular diet pattern. While shelf-stable vinegar pickles are easy to find, fermented pickles with probiotics are a little harder to locate. Here are 5 brands of fermented pickles to look for:

  1. Bubbies

Bubbies Pickles are probably the most well-known brand of fermented pickles. They have been around for 30 years.

Bubbies Pickles are a family-owned business, and they make their pickles in small batches to ensure the best quality. They are also gluten-free and GMO-free.

Bubbies Pickles are made using a traditional fermentation process that takes several weeks to complete.

During the fermentation process, lactobacillus bacteria convert the natural sugars in cucumbers into lactic acid. This lactic acid is what gives them their unique flavor.

Note that Bubbies bread-and-butter pickles are not fermented.

You can order Bubbies pickles through Amazon, and your pickles will be delivered from Whole Foods.

Bubbies fermented pickle brands with a pickle on a fork
  1. Sonoma Brinery

Sonoma Brinery is also a family-run business that has been around for about 18 years.

Sonoma Brinery makes their pickles with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and have a clean, crisp flavor.

While not all their products are fermented, the Manhattan-style whole kosher pickles are fermented, unpasteurized, and highly probiotic.

Whole Foods will deliver Sonoma Brinery pickles when you order from Amazon.

Sonoma fermented pickle brands
  1. Olive My Pickle

The Olive My Pickle brand began 10 years ago at a farmers’ market in Florida. And they still sell their products at their local farmers’ market.

But they now have over 35 kinds of pickles, kraut, kimchi, olives, and other veggies. They will ship their products anywhere in the U.S. from their website or through Amazon.

  1. Oregon Brineworks

The owners of Oregon Brineworks met while running an organic farm, so it’s no surprise that they source all their main ingredients from organic farms. You can find their products along the west coast, or you can order online.

  1. Barrel Creek Provisions

Barrel Creek Provisions gets its vegetables from farm to brine as fast as possible. They ferment in small batches and are GMO-free.

They don’t ship their products, but they are available in most states at select retailers. You can also order through Amazon, and your pickles will be delivered from Whole Foods.

Are Claussen Pickles Fermented?

No, Claussen pickles are pickled, not fermented. Pickled foods are preserved by being soaked in a vinegar solution. Claussen pickles are refrigerated because they are not pasteurized, but they don’t have probiotics.

There is conflicting information on the internet about Claussen pickles and if they are fermented. I reached out to Kraft (the company that makes Claussen pickles) to ask if Claussen pickles are fermented and if they have probiotics. Here is the response I received:

“Claussen pickles are pickled not fermented. Fermentation implies a live bacterial culture is used. Only the freshest cucumbers are selected to be pickled in the proprietary Claussen brine. The brine consists of water, vinegar, salt, nutritive sweetener, and spices. But they don’t have probiotics.”

Are Vlasic Pickles Fermented?

No, Vlasic pickles are pickled and heat-pasteurized, so they don’t have probiotics.

Where to Buy Fermented Pickles Brands

You can find fermented pickles at some grocery stores, including Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Trader Joe’s. Fermented pickles will be in the refrigerated section.

If your store doesn’t carry them, you can also find them online. Or you might be able to find a local seller at your farmers’ market.

You can order Bubbies pickles, Sonoma Brinery pickles, and Barrel Creek Provisions pickles from Amazon, and they can be delivered to your home from Whole Foods. You can also have Olive My Pickle shipped through Amazon.

Large image of a farmers' market

Does Pickle Juice Go Bad?

Both vinegar and fermented pickles and pickle juice can go bad, but it happens rarely before the expiration date.

Always check the expiration date first. If it is before the expiration date, look for the following:

  • The pickles/pickle juice should have a pleasantly sour smell, not a rotten smell.
  • Fermented pickles will have a white cloudy sediment at the bottom of the container. This is completely normal because this is the sign of fermentation and probiotics.
  • There should not be any fuzz or mold.
  • The pickles should not be slimy.
  • The pickles/pickle juice should have a pleasantly sour taste, not a bad spoiled taste.

Bottom Line

Eating fermented foods is a great way to add more gut-healthy and mental health-boosting foods into your diet.

So, are pickles a fermented food? Well, that depends on the way the pickles are made. But the 5 fermented pickle brands listed in this blog post offer high-quality fermented pickles with plenty of gut-friendly probiotics. If you’re looking for a delicious way to improve your gut health and boost your mood, give fermented pickles a try!

Do you have a favorite brand of fermented pickles? Let me know in the comments below!

You might also be interested in learning about these other fermented foods and articles:

The Best Gochujang Substitute & Why It Works

What Is Miso Paste?

The Best Mushrooms for Anxiety and Depression

25 thoughts on “5 Fermented Pickle Brands for Gut and Mental Health (Are Claussen Pickles Fermented?)”

  1. Is drinking the pickle juice from fermented pickles just, more, or less beneficial than the pickle itself? I tend to toss the juice down the drain.

  2. My TJ’s used to have the Sonoma pickles, but now the only refrigerated pickles they carry is a TJ’s brand that has vinegar. Guess I’ll have to stop by WF and pay a little more!

    1. That’s too bad, CM. But the Bubbies pickles at my Whole Foods are good. I’m hoping more stores will start to carry fermented pickles as the word gets out about their benefits.

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