Chat Leftovers: Reusing pickle juice

August 27, 2014

“Local boy makes good” is the kind of story everyone likes, so you won’t want to miss Tim Carman’s look at Aaron Silverman, a young chef whose star is on the rise. The Rockville/North Potomac native and Wootton High School grad is the brains (and skill) behind Rose’s Luxury, Washington’s hottest restaurant, which has attracted crowds since its opening last October. Read all about it here.

Also this week: How to grill the perfect kebab? It’s an art, and Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin has mastered it. His tips will help you turn out great skewers of meat, vegetables, even fruits — and he’s got recipes, of course, just in time for Labor Day feasts.

And there’s more: Weeknight Vegetarian Joe Yonan preaches the gospel of grilled beets; Lisa Yockelson gives us a no-bake fruit bar; Dave McIntyre attends a gathering of elite sommeliers in Texas; and funnyman and food fan — don’t call him a “foodie” — Max Silvestri talks to Sarah Kaplan about his new gig as a TV personality on a comedic cooking show, “The Feed.”

Then, of course, there’s Free Range, which has to be the world’s best live food chat. You can be a contributing part of it — or, heck, just a happy lurker — by joining us today at noon sharp. Culinary questions are happily received. Not that we’ll have time to answer all of them, mind you. There’s always a leftover, like this one from a recent chat:

I loved your Curry Spiced Pickled Green Beans recipe; we ate a batch in a week! I saved the liquid and wonder whether I can just stuff the jar with another batch of beans and reuse the liquid.

The answer is yes and no. Yes, if your idea is to make a quick pickle for short-term storage in the fridge, maybe a few days to a week or so. No, if you want to use the liquid in an actual long-term canning operation like the one that created those terrific beans, which came to us from Canning columnist Cathy Barrow.

In other words, “you can reuse it but cannot safely can with it,” Cathy says.

Reuse it how? Yes, you can make more of those beans; “they’ll be nice and pickled in about a week,” Cathy says. She says she reuses the juice to brine chicken.

And, as it turns out, there are a zillion other thing you can do with pickle juice, either homemade or store-bought. (The curry flavor in the particular juice we’re talking about here, of course, might be somewhat of a limiting factor.)

Here’s a rundown of pickle juice uses gleaned from several online sources, including the Web site ilovepickles.org, where you can buy a golf putter that looks like a pickle, a pair of pickle-slice earrings and more.

We’ll start with our own Heloise, who slices cucumbers into pickle juice, where they stay crisp for a day or two and thereafter remain edible for days. She treats canned beans, canned beets, sliced carrots and celery in the same way.

Other possibilities for that treatment: fresh, cooked or canned vegetables including radishes, sliced onions, garlic, summer squash, artichoke hearts (canned), shredded carrots, watermelon rind, Brussels sprouts (cooked). Also, hard-cooked eggs, but I wouldn’t leave those in the juice for more than a week.

In recipes that call for vinegar, try using pickle juice instead. It’s a natural in vinaigrettes and other salad dressings, for example.

Boil mushrooms in it for a few minutes to give them a subtle pickled taste.

Use it to add flavor to foods, including stuffed/deviled eggs, egg salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, and macaroni and other pasta salads. Use it in potato salad — pour it over the sliced/cubed potatoes while they’re still hot from cooking, or add some to the potato cooking water. Add to barbecue sauce, salsa, gazpacho, hummus, cole slaw, seviche, tartar sauce, chili, meatloaf, mac and cheese, borscht.

Use it as a brine/tenderizer for meat. Poach fish in it.

Make King Arthur Flour’s Rye Sandwich Bread.

Freeze it into popsicles. (Read our story about the Pickle Sickle.)

Add it to pimento cheese. Or mix it with cream cheese (with or without chopped-up pickles) as a bagel topping or chip/cracker dip.

Drizzle it over cooked fish or vegetables. It’s great over cooked collards, spinach and other greens.

Add it to cocktails, including martinis and bloody marys.

Drink it as a chaser for whiskey, vodka or tequila.

Drink it straight!

And finally, there are claims of various medicinal uses, but I could find only one that seemed to have actual scientific support: The National Institutes of Health reports that drinking pickle juice relieved muscle cramps almost immediately in athletes who took part in an experiment in 2010.

That’s probably more than you wanted to know about using pickle juice. In case you’d like specific ideas, try these recipes from our Recipe Finder database; they all call for pickle juice in some amount:

David Hagedorn’s Bread and Butter Granita for oysters.

A savory cocktail, the Harry Caray.

2013 Top Tomato contest contender, Bloody Claire.

Jalapeño-Baked Fish With Roasted Tomatoes and Potatoes, which uses juice from pickled jalapeño peppers.

Sour Cucumber Soup.

And by the way, leftover olive juice is pretty versatile, too: See my Chat Leftovers from a few years ago.

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