reusing pickle brine, either commercially bought or homemade?
I'm making pickles and following the home cooking dish of the month thread, but I'm wondering about reusing pickle brine.
I've read some recipes that include the pickles and also some of the brine.
Can you safely use either commercial or homemade brine for salad dressings?
Or for making more pickles....should the brine be re-boiled?
Coincidentally, this question was asked in the current issue of Cook's Illustrated (Jul/Aug 2014, p. 2). A reader asked whether leftover brine from pickles (not specified if homemade or store-bought, but I suspect the latter) could be used for a batch of homemade pickles. The answer was 'Yes' -- salt cucumber slices (1.5 tsp salt per lb) and let drain for 1 hour; put in container; boil leftover brine and pour over; cool and refrigerate for 1 day before eating.
I drink some of it. It's better than Gatorade if you're really athletic. Really just google it. Full of electrolytes.
Here are two previous threads about this:
Yes, either brine can be incorporated in salad dressing. You can also heat it and toss it into your hot potatoes when making potato salad (same for pasta salads). Let cool before adding the rest of the dressing ingredients for these salads. The brine will penetrate and season the starch better by this method than by incorporating it cold with the chilled dressing ingredients.
You can re-use the brine but it becomes diluted each time. You should measure the amount the first time, before you add it to your vegetables, and when re-using, boil it down to that original volume. You may need to add a bit more vinegar once you taste it, as the heating will tame the tang. Safety-wise, the reboiling is not needed unless the brine has become VERY dilute.
I used to reuse pickle brine by adding fresh cucumbers, but I don't do it anymore. The last time I tried it, some kind of cloudy weblike substance started growing near the bottom of the jar after only a day's soak.
Pickle brine is good for soaking chicken breasts. Just pound them out, soak them overnight, then bread and pan-fry as cutlets.
I've had that substance happen too, when making pickles from scratch. I think it's from mold spores on the fresh cukes, and in your case night have happened because the vinegar had been too diluted by reusing.
In my case, I had fresh pickling cucumbers that were in a plastic bag in a hot car, then spent the night on a cool porch. When I got to them the next day, they were fuzzed in mold. I rinsed it off, thinking the brine would kill anything that might remain. Not!