By Liesl Clark
We love our Claussen pickles (they’re one of the few commercial brands of food we buy) and for years I’ve regretfully poured the pickle juice out, until my passion for reuse got the better of me and we did an experiment.
We sliced some beautiful spanish onion very thinly and threw it in the pickle juice sans pickles. A few hours later, the pickled onions were perfect! We’ve been enjoying them ever since. They go nicely on a salad, in guacamole, in tuna salad sandwiches and would likely be perfect for hamburgers and hot dogs. My children eat them straight out of the jar.
I did a little research across several discussion boards, to make sure reusing the juice is okay, and here’s what I learned: You can definitely reuse the juice to pickle fresh or blanched veggies in your refrigerator. Some people expressed concern about the health risks in reusing pickle juice for a new stash of pickled somethings. But almost all sites concluded that you should simply use your best judgement. Many admitted even drinking the stuff. Perusing the web showed me that there are pickle juice-reusers out there who have been doing it for years. With good instincts and taste buds, and as long as you only reuse the pickle juice for short-term pickling in the refrigerator (no more than a couple of weeks), I think your re-pickles will be worth the risk.
Some people add a teaspoon of kosher salt and another of distilled white vinegar to the jar to ensure a strong brine.
We’ve even started pickling our fresh-laid (hard boiled) eggs in there for a delicious lunch snack for the kids when cucumbers aren’t in season. Vegetables to definitely try are: Green tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, cauliflower, and mushrooms (very short term pickling). I’d like to also try a kimchi experiment with cabbage and carrots and use the pickle juice when I’m brining my kimchi.
Of course, the one down side to Claussen pickles is that they’re not entirely plastic-free. There’s that little plastic neck thing that corporate food tends to have around it to prove that no one has tampered with the glass jar. Local organic pickles don’t have those annoying plastic sealers and most of us are used to hearing that “pop” when a jar of safely-canned food is opened. You can always make your own pickles. We do, when they’re in season, and we have a great refrigerator pickle recipe for you here.
Other pickle juice reuse ideas that I’ve discovered?
1) I found one reference online that said you can clean your copper pots with pickle juice. Just dip your sponge in the juice and polish away!
2) Make a salad dressing using your pickle juice.
3) Try your hand at Polish pickle rye bread.
4) Pickletinis: Mix pickle juice with a dash of vodka or gin. I dare you to try one.
Do you have any pickle juice reuses to share? Please do in the comments below!