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Refrigerator Pickles - Can the Brine Be Reused?

  • g

I have been making Spicy Dill Pickles (from Epicurious Web site) every summer since 1993. They are awesome. A friend asked if the brine could be reused - they are not processed pickles, and the brine is not cooked. Has anyone tried this or is it a good way to get botchulism?

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  1. Somewhere in the cobwebs of my brain I seem to recall expert picklers saying NOT to re-use the brine b/c you are more likely to get mushy pickles which, as we know, one has to throw out.

    I never have left over brine becuase I put it in meat selianka, the greatest undiscovered soup in the world (see any russian recipe book/web site).

    There is a fine book, "The Joy of PIckling" that can answer all your questions. I have a copy somewhere around here but damned if I can lay my hands on it just now. Maybe someone Out There has a copy to hand.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Hazelhurst

      In the Washington, D. C. area the original Jerry's sub shop back in the 1950's and 1960's took crushed cherry peppers and mixed them with a small amount of pickle juice to make what, to this day, is the best hot sauce relish I have ever tasted for a sub. Today, Jerry's is a chain with over 100 stores. They use bottled relish that is nowhere near as good.

    2. m
      Morris Malken

      I have strained the pickling brine and added it, a tablespoon at a time, to potato salad to achieve a delicatessen-like flavor.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Morris Malken

        My mom does that instead of vinegar. It makes a difference from what I can tell.

      2. Reuse it once to pickle hard boiled eggs. Let them pickle for a week before eating them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ironmom

          I did the same thing after eating a jar of Classens. I put the hard boiled eggs in the brine and put the jar back in the refrigerator. Then I forgot about them. It's been over 2 months now, they've been in the fridge the whole time. Should the still be O.K. to eat? Asked Kraft foods and they had no answer.

        2. I didn't realize it could be a bad thing to re-use the pickle liquid. I just finished a jar of Claussen pickles and was curious with one of the cucumbers from my back yard so I cut it up and put it in the jar for a week in the fridge. I ate them today and they tasted better than what was in the jar from the market! :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: tonicart

            toni, we may have been seperated at birth, as I do exactly the same with Claussen as well. I wash the cukes first as cut in 1/4 spears to get as much as I can in the jar.
            However, I found that a second batch in the brine just isn't the same...
            So I usually have a jar of true Claussen going concurrently with a jar of redux...

            I'm not a pickle expert, but I don't think Claussen are processed either, since they require refrigeration at all times, so it may be a parallel to the OPs Spicy Dill Pickles?

          2. put some of the brine in a bloody mary ( seriously!) it rocks

            1. I add it to tuna salad for an extra kick. Second adding it to bloody marys too!

              1. I re-use brine all the time with no side effects. You generally can only do so one time thogh as the liqid exchange from the cukes waters the brine down so much. After that they do become mushy and need to be tossed.

                1 Reply
                1. re: blaprell

                  i dont know about homemade brine, but i know that "lazy pickles" are a common recipe, reusing commercial pickle brine to make new pickles. i have also heard that this is quite successful. i don't honestly see why the hell you couldnt be able to reuse even an uncooked homemade brine, hell with the whole food safety aspect. i think common sense goes a long way in this regard and you know what is safe and what is not through your basic five senses. i'm sure we are not the first people to reuse a brine with such qualities.

                  more suggestions; http://www.ilovepickles.org/articles/...

                2. Botulism? I think not, but it is a way to fail to get pickles, the second time around.

                  I tried it once, and without getting technical, the first batch uses up most of the "pickle power" of the liquid. You wouldn't like a second batch on the same liquid.

                  However, I have played around recently with all sorts of "refrigerator" and "countertop" pickles - I find that cucumbers, cut thick, soaked (not necessarily submerged) in a mixture of white vinegar, sugar, and (optional) red pepper flakes or thin-sliced jalapenos, the liquid added boiling, left covered on the countertop and tossed now and then, yields same-day mild fresh pickles that taste just right in as little as 2 hours.

                  1. I reused brine from commercial jarred pickles ( Mt Olive brand) and put zucchini slices in it. But I kept it in the refrigerator the whole time while I allowed the zucchini to "soak" a day. I think as long as you were to keep the brine in the frig you would be fine.

                    Otherwise, if you wanted to keep it on the shelf, you probably should boil the brine to whatever temp to kill bacteria and then sterilize the jar, etc.

                    Someone can correct me but I think the issue with botulism is that its heat resistant, so once the bacteria are there, you are out of luck... heating won't help it.