Fishing the last pickle out of the jar is always a bittersweet moment. If you’re like me, that feeling is quickly followed by guilt at the thought of dumping the leftover brine down the drain. So back into the refrigerator it goes! I used to agonize over what to use the leftover liquid for, but I’ve since learned some super creative and downright delicious uses for leftover pickle juice. Now pickle juice never goes to waste and using it before half-empty pickle jars clutter my fridge is no trouble at all!
So what can you do with leftover pickle juice? From drinking it straight from the jar (yes, really!) to tenderizing meat marinades to revitalizing copper pots, this pickle by-product has a ton of fantastic uses.
- Multitudinous Uses for Leftover Pickles Juices
- Drink It!
- Pickle Things
- Make Pickle Brine the Star
- Meat Marinade
- Cooking Assist
- Flavor Assist
- A Suitable Vinegar Substitute
- Non-Consumable Uses
- A Note on Pickle Juices
- Pickle Juice Recommendations
- In Summation: Best Uses for Leftover Pickle Juice
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Multitudinous Uses for Leftover Pickles Juices
It’s rumored that pickle brine can help relieve muscle cramps, so pour yourself a shot if you’re in need of a post-workout pick-me-up. Or maybe you just enjoy the flavor; ain’t no shame in enjoying a shot of pickle juice once in a while.
Relatedly, you can also freeze pickle juice in popsicle molds and enjoy an ice-cold pickle pop. You can also freeze in ice cube trays and add the briny cubes to a beverage of your choice.
Perk up your cocktails with a little leftover pickle brine. Adding to a Michelada or Bloody Mary is an obvious choice, but what about replacing the olive juice with pickle juice in that dirty martini? Pickle-tini anyone?
You could also make a Pickleback, which is a shot of pickle brine that is taken and immediately followed by a shot of whiskey. The whiskey used in a Pickleback is usually a not-so-top shelf brand, the pickle brine acting to alleviate any abrasiveness - and what better way to do it with a vinegary, dilly punch!? The flavors are surprisingly complimentary, so break out that pickle juice if you’re motivated to rid your bar of any undesirable whiskey.
If you’re a non-drinker, make a simple fizzy mocktail with an unflavored sparkling water or club soda and a splash or two of pickle juice. Or add a few pickle ice cubes to that fizzy water.
So obvious right!? I like to add fresh cucumber to leftover pickle brine to give them a quick pickle. But you could also try pickling onions, garlic, peppers, radishes, beets, soft cheeses (like mozzarella balls), even hard-boiled eggs.
Toss whatever you’d like to quick-pickle in the leftover pickle brine, making sure your additions are completely submerged. I like to wait 24-48 hours before sampling, to give ample time for the brine to absorb.
Make Pickle Brine the Star
The acidity in pickle juice makes it a great meat tenderizer and ready-made brine. Try using it as a brine for pork chops or to tenderize tougher cuts of steak, like skirt steak. Scan the nutrition label before using it as a marinade on lighter-colored proteins. Some pickles contain yellow dye which will result in an off-putting tint on chicken or pork. You can still use it, just add some water to the marinade to prevent discoloration.
I love the pickle-ness imparted by a pickle bath as well and often use it to flavor meats that don’t necessarily need help in the tenderizing department. Like in this Grilled Ranch Chicken; the pickle brine only needs 30 minutes to impart a lovely dilly flavor that plays perfectly with Ranch seasoning.
Add some pickle juice to your cooking liquid to add some instant flavor. Poaching fish? Use pickle brine!
Boiling potatoes? Cooking pasta? Use it to help add flavor and salt during cooking. Especially fantastic if that pasta is getting used to make a cold pasta salad.
Steaming vegetables? Why not use pickle juice!?
When slow cooking tougher cuts of meat I like to add pickle juice to help the process along. This might look like a 50/50 mix of 1 cup of water or cooking stock to 1 cup of pickle juice (depending on the size of the meat being slow-cooked).
You’ll want to add a healthy amount when cooking things like potatoes and pasta, but be more reserved when poaching fish.
Deglaze that Pan
You’ve just seared some meats, and need to quickly deglaze the pan so those delicious seared bits (aka fond) don’t go to waste. Reach for some pickle brine in lieu of wine to create a dill-icious, tangy pan sauce.
You’d be surprised how much a little pickle juice can liven up everything from store-purchased sauces to finished dishes. If that store-purchased barbecue sauce, hummus, or salad dressing just isn’t lively enough, add some pickle juice to the mix, a little at a time, until it pops.
Some people swear that adding a splash of pickle juice to macaroni and cheese is makes it extra delicious. And why not spritz on some pickle juice to give cooked veggies or fish an acidic boost before serving? Similar to the idea of adding fresh squeezed lemon, you’re just swapping it for pickle juice.
Other pickle juice flavor assist ideas include adding it to:
- Potato salad
- Tuna or chicken salad
- Pasta salad (Dill Pickle Pasta Salad, anyone?)
- Deviled eggs
- Soups and chowders
- Tartar sauce
- Salad dressing
- Mashed potatoes
- Dips (like this Cream Cheese Pickle Dip)
- Bread dough
A Suitable Vinegar Substitute
You’re in the middle of making gazpacho when you realize you’re fresh out of vinegar. You can sub in pickle juice to get the job done without leaving the house (as long as you have pickles on hand). In fact, you can swap in pickle juice when vinegar is called for in most anything - like a vinaigrette - as long as the dill flavor makes sense in the resulting dish.
Looking for an environmentally-friendly way to get rid of weeds? Banish them with a healthy dose of pickle juice - the salt and vinegar really do a number on weeds.
Have a copper pan that's looking a little lackluster? Make it shine again with pickle juice! Apply pickle juice with a soft cloth and give it an all-over scrub. For tougher candidates, a quick soak might be in order. Just be mindful of how long you soak as pickle brine can actually have a patina effect on copper pots with longer exposure, resulting in a blue-green appearance.
De-grease that grill with pickle juice - I like to add some pickle juice to a spray bottle and generously coat dirty grill grates before giving them a scrub down. Also fantastic for cleaning the stovetop or giving that kitchen sink a good cleaning.
A Note on Pickle Juices
Pickle brine can vary widely across brands (as well as across homemade pickle juice recipes). Check out the nutrition label before using leftover pickle juice to cook with, add to dishes, etc. The level of sodium present should be the first thing you check out; pickle juice is notoriously salty, but some brands contain considerably more sodium than others.
Another thing to look for on the nutrition label is yellow dye. Some pickles contain yellow dye which will result in an off-putting tint on chicken or pork. You can still use it, just add some water to the marinade to prevent discoloration.
Pickle Juice Recommendations
Probably my favorite brand of pickles if I had to choose. Claussen pickle brine has this lovely balance of tangy dill with hints of garlic. It's seasoned with spices including turmeric, garlic, and red pepper. And you'll find no yellow dye in the ingredient list!
The Minnesota Pickle! Gedney is a local favorite around these parts. The brine is classic dill pickle all the way, and absent yellow dye.
In the past, I've found the Vlasic brand to be overly salty (and I'm a salt lover!). However, Vlasic's Purely Pickles is different from its other offerings. The brine has a pleasing classic dill pickle flavor, sans artificial dyes, and is easy on the sodium.
In Summation: Best Uses for Leftover Pickle Juice
There you have it, some of the best uses for leftover pickle brine!
If you have a fantastic use for that leftover liquid gold, please comment below :). I would love to hear some of your best uses for leftover pickle brine.
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