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Oct 23, 2010 12:41 PM

Pickling question

I pickled some cucumber for homemade pickles (a la Alton Brown - awesome BTW). I am wondering whether anyone knows whether I can reuse the pickling liquid. I thought I could boil it a few minutes just in case something hinky got in. Anyone done this? It seems wasteful to dump.

Here is the recipe should you want to make them yourself - and so you can see what the juice is comprised of: First of all, here's the recipe:

1/2 onion, sliced thinly
2 medium cucumbers, sliced thinly
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon pickling spice
4 whole garlic cloves, smashed


Combine the cucumber and onion slices in a clean spring top jar.

Combine the remaining ingredients, except garlic, in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for a full 4 minutes to wake up the spice flavors.

Add the garlic cloves to the jar. Slowly and gently pour the pickling liquid over the onion and cucumber slices, filling to the top of the jar.

Cool to room temperature. Top off the jar with any remaining pickling liquid and refrigerate.

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  1. Part of the pickling process draws some water into the brine so it is more dilute. I do know people who reuse it though.

    1 Reply
    1. Sure, you can reuse the pickle juice. I reuse mine all the time. If your food is in the fridge it doesn't matter what the brine strength could throw a splash of vinegar in there if it wasn't tangy enough.

      3 Replies
      1. re: momskitchen

        It does matter what the brine strength is. It has to have a certain acidity or salinity to pickle and thus preserve whatever you are pickling even in the frig. There are probably variables that could affect this, like how tightly you pack the cucumbers and how long you kept the first batch. You would probably be ok using a second time if you consume the pickles within a couple of weeks. I have done it but didn't like the pickles as well.

        1. re: wekick

          @wekick, for refrigerator pickles, brine strength isn't critical to food safety. Check out some of those great pickles featured in the Momofuku cookbook like this one pickle has a very, very weak brine. Good luck with your pickling ventures!

          1. re: momskitchen

            I have made those pickles and a quick pickle consumed in a week or two is a different thing. The difference would be if you are pickling for preservation. A certain acidity/salinity/hypertonicity are required to inhibit harmful bacteria. I have a recipe for green tomato relish, bread and butter pickles, and dill pickles that will keep for a very long time. I usually tell people up to three mos, but in reality they keep up to 9-10 mos or more.

      2. Sure you can use it - especially in the short term if the acidity is right. I like to pickle green beans and asparagus in leftover brine for bloody marys, and it's also good added to the base of a really delicious borscht.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mamachef

          After putting up 24 quarts of bread and butter pickles this summer, I had several quarts of pickling juice left over. I intend to bake a ham in it for a big party coming up. Will report back.

        2. Thank you all so much for the great advice and confidence. I think I am going to make some pickled beans to go with the cukes just to celebrate!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sal Vanilla

            I am going to try your recipe above. It looks good. I'm making green tomato relish tonight. We're having a hard freeze tonight so I just scavenged the garden.