Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: Start thinking of leftover pickle brine as an ingredient in its own right. We've got six ways to use it.
You have likely lived with one of those people who will let the last pickle languish in its jar for weeks. Maybe this person is afraid to be He Who Ate The Last Pickle, or is saving it for a particularly intense craving. Nobody knows.
And then, once the last pickle is eaten, the brine just sits there. You're not sure what to do with it aside from dump it out and reuse the jar as a chic storage unit for bulk bin quinoa. It sits, and sits, in the back of your refrigerator, and you know it won't go bad, so you let it sit some more.
Thankfully, we have answers for you and your pickle brine: You've been right not to dump it out. But you've been wrong not to use it. It's acid and flavor all in one, pre-mixed -- and it's ready to be regaled as a very special ingredient. We've added it to our list of go-to dish brighteners. Here are our favorite ways to use it:
Possibly the most logical thing to do with your pickle brine: use it to make more pickles. Chop up cucumbers, beets, onions -- whatever your heart desires -- and submerge them in leftover pickle juice. Let sit for a few days as your past pickles beget your future pickles, then enjoy. Take a look at this hotline thread for more repickling advice from our community.
Pickled Bloody Mary
Add a splash of pickle juice to your Bloody Mary. Garnish with a dill spear or fancier pickled vegetables. If you're in a Hair-of-the-Dog situation, you'll be glad to know that pickle juice is also, allegedly, a hangover cure.
So you say you're looking for a middle ground between gloopy, mayonnaise-based potato salad and terse, minimalist, vinegar-based recipes? Pickle brine will lead you there. Toss it in with your just-boiled potatoes and they'll absorb and adopt all of its flavors. Add more brine and a handful of dill to your dressing. This is our new favorite potato salad, and it will soon be yours, too.
More: Get the recipe here.
Marinades and dressings
Pickle brine is an effective meat tenderizer, and provides an already-mixed marinade. Consider spicier pickles for this one, unless you want dilly steak. Or, swap in pickle brine for vinegar in your next salad dressing, and skip the step of having to decide what flavors to add to your acid and oil.
More: Make any marinade in 5 steps.
This is why you're all here, isn't it? You wanted us to give you permission to take a pickleback shot? Well, here it is. You could make this classier by using artisanal pickles and small-batch whiskey. Or you could not. In case you're confused, here"s a recipe.
Tell us: what do you do with your leftover pickle brine?
Photos by James Ransom