They call it green gold. Okay, no one actually calls pickle juice that, but they really should! Leftover brine has hundreds of uses, from sauce additives to cleaning applications, and it can add an extra zip to just about any dish. After you’ve sweated over the stove, sterilizing your (many) jars and burning your fingers a few times in the process, you don’t really want to pour the precious results down the drain, do you?
Instead, make your brine go further by using one of these clever kitchen hacks:
Reduce, Rejuice, Recycle
One of the best ways to give new life to your juice is to double down on its use! Stuff a handful of garlic cloves, a few boiled eggs, a chopped onion or some canned jalapeños in the leftover jars and wait. In a few days, you’ll have a garnish spread fit for a really, really resourceful king. Pair your second-generation pickles with cheese plates, martinis, and more.
For the Backyard BBQ
- I know that when it comes to barbecue sauce, folks have their opinions, but for the non-traditionalist, pickle juice can really add some salty flair to a classic. We like this hot raspberry version, which would probably get you banned down South, but tastes delicious nonetheless.
- Nothing perks up your standard oil and vinegar salad dressing faster than a bracing shot of brine. But in case vinaigrette isn’t your thing, there’s also a ranch recipe you can try out.
- I will eat potato salad just about any way you can fix it, but this dill pickle juice number has a special place in my heart!
For the Butcher and the Baker
- If it can do that to plain cucumbers, think about what it can do for a steak. Pickle juice is renowned by food industry professionals as an excellent meat tenderizer and marinade.
- Dill pickle bread is flavorful, soft, and has a tang reminiscent of sourdough. Try it as a base for grilled cheese.
For the Ladies who Brunch
- The best Bloody Mary recipes are big, bold, and accompanied with an elaborate garnish. This one calls for leftover juice and includes a section on making your own homemade horseradish ice cubes.
- A few stiff bloodys can definitely lead to shots—and gastronomical daring! Get a two-in-one by offering your lovable lushes some pickleback shots: one part juice, one part whiskey. My mouth puckers up just thinking about it!
- Just like a good friend, it’ll get you drunk and then take care of you the next day. Brine also makes a great hangover cure. Who knew?
And Then, for the Just Plain Odd
- I’ve read that along the route of RAGBRAI, Iowa’s annual cycling tour, gas stations for miles around sell out of pickles, and not because cyclists have an affinity for them. They buy the containers and chug the juice to stay hydrated and alleviate cramps. Does it work? Oddly enough, science says yes.
- Love popsicles, but hate how sweet they are? Yeah, me neither, but there’s a recipe for pickle popsicles anyway. It bills itself as a "great treat for dieters," which makes me wonder if I’ve been doing diets wrong this whole time.
Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Remodeling and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and About.com.