The Many Lives of Pickle Juice

Recently I found myself dumping out pickle brine after finishing a jar of pickles. After the brine was gone, I wondered, isn’t there a way to put it to good use? After all, it has the ingredients one might use in a marinade. Can’t we use it to marinade meat? A quick search showed a wealth of information on the uses of pickle brine, such as here and here. The three main uses seemed to be 1) meat marinade, 2) re-using it to pickle more vegetables, and 3) drinking it after a hard workout to regain electrolyte balance. Right away, I decided to pass on #3 in favor of Gatorade. As far as marinating meat, I tried to marinade chicken for about an hour in pickle juice prior to sautéing the chicken. I didn’t notice much of an effect, other than to make the chicken taste slightly sour. Not very impressive. Next, I tried marinating different vegetables in pickle juice, and here the results were much more interesting. This turned out to be an extremely easy way to get pickled vegetables of the kind you won’t find in a local supermarket. After all, when was the last time you’ve seen pickled broccoli or carrots on a store shelf? Since I’m a big fan of pickles of all kinds, this method was a pretty exciting find. After pickling several different types of vegetables in brine left over from marinated cucumbers, I was surprised by how quickly some of them were pickled. Red peppers were done in only three days!

Red peppers and broccoli in the pickle jar

Here is a list of the pickling times needed for different vegetables to reach their full marinated flavor:

Red Peppers: 3 days
Radishes: 3 days
Carrots: 1 week
Broccoli: 1 week
Green peppers: 1 week
Cherry Tomatoes: 2 weeks
Garlic: 2 weeks

The peppers were sliced into thin strips, as you would for a salad. The radishes were quartered. The carrots were sliced into small sticks the shape and size of French fries. The broccoli florets, garlic cloves, and cherry tomatoes were kept whole. The vegetables were fully submerged into the pickle brine, covered, and left in the fridge. That’s all there is to it. My favorites were red peppers, carrots, and broccoli. Compared to the other vegetables, pickling had the strongest beneficial effect on the flavor of these three. Still on my “To Do” list: cauliflower, eggplant, and zucchini.

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