Canning Day! We just made this season's first batch of bread and butter pickles today and that got me thinking about all the delicious pickles (and pickle juice) we'll be eating in the winter time. Pickle juice is what we call the leftover vinegar and spice mix after all the veggies are eaten out of the jar. Many people dump this yummy mix down the drain, but there are so many uses for it that I never waste a single drop!
Of course you can always just drink it, but there are way, way better options for putting it to good use. It can be substituted in any recipe that calls for vinegar and spices, plus all of the flavors have had plenty of time to meld for extra deliciousness. Bread and butter or dill can be used for any of these options below, but you can experiment and see which you like best for each use. I generally just go with what I have on hand, though. Also, don't forget that there are other pickles other than ones made with cucumbers. Have fun experimenting with pickled beets, tomatoes, olives etc. Plus, if you use facto-fermented pickle juice, you can add some gut health boosting bacteria to many dishes!
Ok, you might find this hard to believe, but you have never, ever, ever had a decent deviled egg until you try one made with
pickle juice. I'm serious! This simple trick totally changed deviled eggs for me forever. I simply mix the yolks with a little pickle juice, oil, mustard, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika and voila! The best deviled eggs you've ever sunk your teeth into! They call them deviled for a reason, it's because they're sinfully good when made right. BUT WAIT! What about the mayo??? is what I'm sure you're yelling at your computer screen at home. You don't need it. I know, I know, how dare I suggest that? But honestly, the only ingredients in real mayonnaise are oil, vinegar, and eggs anyways. So why add more of what is already in it? Save yourself a buck and a trip to the store and go without.
If you must absolutely have mayonnaise to put in your deviled eggs, though, its is perfectly easy to make at home. Simply combine pickle juice and egg whites in a blender and blend, adding cooking oil slowly while blending on high speed. This is hard to do with a hand crank mixer but works well with with an immersion blender.
For a great recipe, check out a recipe for homemade mayo by my good friend at Rabbit Ridge Farm.
Pasta salad is a great way to feed a lot of people, but it is also an excellent way to get rid of a lot of pickle juice fast. Simply mix pickle juice, oil, mustard, and spices and mix in with your pasta and veggies and refrigerate.
Sauces and Glazes
Honey glazed carrots with bread and butter pickles is one of the best recipes that comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cooking in Quilt Country by Marcia Adams. This amish recipe consists of cooked carrots covered in an orange and honey glaze with dices pickles mixed in. Just a bit of bread and butter pickle juice is enough to really give it that pickle-y flavor. Pickle juice can be used in all sorts of sauces and glazes, too!
Salad dressing is one of the best uses for pickle juice. This great recipe for Italian dressing from Rabbit Ridge Farm takes less than a minute to make and is delicious! You can substitute it for vinegar in any salad dressing recipe, though.
Add it to Bean Burgers or Sloppy Joes
When all else fails, hide it. Pickle juice can be substituted for water or vinegar is any recipe that you would eat pickles with anyways.
Make More Pickles
There's nothing worse than running out of pickles, but you can make more by simply adding veggies back to the pickle juice and letting sit in the fridge for a couple of days. You can do this with cucumbers and keep it simple or get funky with it and try some crazy combinations! One of the best I've tried recently is putting purslane, a common garden weed, in pickle juice- it tastes amazing and is great on sandwiches! Plus you can weed your garden at the same time. You can't re-can this pickles, but they are awfully good just kept in the fridge and allowed to soak in the flavor.
Use it as a Dye
This one won't work with your dill or bread and butter pickles, but it works great with pickled beets. That red color with stain anything! While beet juice and vinegar is traditionally used to preserve and make pickled eggs red, it can be used in all sorts of other foods. For example, you could add a little pickled beet juice to raspberry kombucha to give it a nice vibrant red color.
Fruit Fly Trap
If all else fails, an empty jar of pickle juice left out on the counter makes a great fruit fly trap. We have a big problem with this here because don't have any screen doors or windows but have to keep them open because of the heat (especially when canning like today). Just leave it out for a couple of days and then dump it after you've killed a satisfactory number of flies.
Make Fried Pickles
This is only recipe on this post you actually need whole pickles for, but it sure is a good one. When making fried pickles, use the juice instead of water in the batter for extra pickle-y fried pickles! You can also try mixing it in with your dipping sauce if using. Here's a great recipe from She Wears Many Hats.
That's all I've got for now, but if you have any creative ideas on how to use up pickle juice we'd love to hear about it in the comments below! Thanks for reading and happy pickling!
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