If you’ve been buying pickles, eating the pickles, then throwing away the pickle juice, it’s OK. You can forgive yourself. You didn’t know what you were doing.
That was then, and this is now. I’m here to beg you. Please! Don’t throw this amazing ingredient down the drain. You’re missing out, because there are so many uses for this wonderful stuff.
Pickle juice is simply a concentrated zing of acid, salt and pickling spices that make magic. Not just dill pickles, but sweet pickles, bread and butter pickles, any pickled brine of that ilk. Tossing it is like throwing away really good, flavored vinegar.
Here are some uses for this brine divine:
The obvious — make more pickles. When you eat all the pickles, add another round of sliced cucumber for a fresh refrigerator pickle. Besides cucumber, try zucchini, carrot, radishes, onion or green beans. Let them hang out for a few days and check the flavor. The longer they sit, the more pickled they’ll become.
Add a zing to everything. Add a spoonful of brine to your next batch of tuna, egg or chicken salad. Substitute brine for vinegar in most recipes for extra complexity. Add to water when boiling pasta for pasta salad, or potatoes for potato salad. Use it to deglaze pans when making pan sauce after sauteing chicken, pork or beef.
Use as a tenderizing marinade. Simply add 1/4 cup brown sugar to 1 cup pickle juice to make a marinade for two pounds pork or chicken pieces. Marinade at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Make the best DIY condiments. Recipes follow.
DILL PICKLE VINAIGRETTE
3/4 cup dill pickle juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
Blend ingredients together, serve on salad.
THE SAUCE THAT’S GOOD ON EVERYTHING
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup pickle juice (any kind of pickle)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Blend ingredients, season to taste and use to dress salad, on cooked or raw veggies, or a sauce for meat, poultry or fish.
MUSHROOMS IN PICKLE-BRINE BUTTER
Yield: 4-6 servings Time: 30 minutes
6 tablespoons butter, divided
6 tablespoons olive oil; divided
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 1/2 to 3 pounds mushrooms, such as white button or cremini, thickly sliced or quartered
3/4 cup brine, strained from a jar of dill pickles
- In a large skillet on medium-high heat, melt together 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Divide your sliced onion and mushrooms into thirds. Saute one-third of the onion until very soft, about 3 minutes. Add one-third of the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender, golden, and delicious. About 5 to 7 minutes.
(When you first add the mushrooms to the skillet, they’ll try to absorb the flavorful butter and oil like little sponges. So, move them around the pan quickly so every mushroom gets some goodness.)
- When golden and delicious, add one-third (1/4 cup) pickle brine and stir until the brine is absorbed, about 1 minute. Transfer the cooked mushrooms to a serving plate and keep warm.
- Repeat this process twice more with the remaining onions and mushrooms, refraining from eating the mushrooms that you just cooked while no one is watching. We share if we must.
You also can add a spoonful of brine to your next Bloody Mary cocktail. If nothing else, use pickle brine as a chaser for a shot of tequila. Together let’s make sure no brine is left behind. Race you to the back of the fridge!
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at firstname.lastname@example.org
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