Is there a use for brine from pickles and olives?
January 2, 2010 10:14 PM   Subscribe

This is going to sound weird, possibly gross. I was eating olives today, and the following question occurred to me: is there a culinary purpose for the brine and/or oil from products such as pickles and olives? Could it somehow be added to my cooking, or need I send it right down the drain before I recycle the jar?
posted by kensington314 to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
If it's oil, you could use it to dress a salad. The brine I'm not so sure about...
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:18 PM on January 2, 2010

Not weird at all. Uses for pickle juice.
posted by amyms at 10:19 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dirty martinis for sure. People spend upwards of 6 dollars for a small bottle of salt-water with weird added flavors to simulate the effect of olive brine. If you don't like them, I'm sure you can keep it for company.
posted by lizjohn at 10:20 PM on January 2, 2010

the brine might be good for marinating meat.
posted by lester at 10:20 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

A dirty martini, and the competition.
posted by lizjohn at 10:25 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I tried using pickle brine as an ingredient in barbeque sauce once. Don't do that. I figured, salty, tangy, but noooooo.
posted by telstar at 10:26 PM on January 2, 2010

My mother is fond of adding some pickle juice to her tuna salad.
posted by pmdboi at 10:27 PM on January 2, 2010

Oh my yes, keep the oil! At work we get these gorgeous tiny black taggliasche olives packed in oil, and I use the oil to dress our olive oil-poached tuna salad. It's divine.

The brine... mehh. Depends on how flavourful it is. You could maybe try keeping a bunch and then brining a bird in it before roasting.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:30 PM on January 2, 2010

I tried pickle juicing my salmon, since I figured dill goes well with fish. Don't do that, either.
posted by Pomo at 10:31 PM on January 2, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I finished a jar of sauerkraut and on a whim drank the brine. It tasted great and I felt like I had superpowers for two days afterwards.
posted by wobh at 10:35 PM on January 2, 2010 [5 favorites]

I made some spicy garlicky pickled green beans and saved the brine for my bloody maries. Yum.
posted by padraigin at 10:39 PM on January 2, 2010

sauerkraut juice has a lot of reputed health benefits when taken as a tonic.

whey (left over from yogurt or cheese making) can be used as a soup flavoring or base, to speed along lacto-fermentation or in any recipe calling for buttermilk.
posted by chickadee at 10:50 PM on January 2, 2010

Polish pickles tend to come in a really nicely-spiced brine, which I've used many times to re-pickle things like beets etc. Not a long-term pickling, mind, more of a few days in there while they pick up the flavour.
posted by Mundungus at 10:50 PM on January 2, 2010

I drink my pickle juice - I think it's delicious and it makes me feel great! Pickles and pickle juice doesn't last long in my house.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:09 PM on January 2, 2010

Try it (pickle juice in particular) in place of citrus juice or vinegar in potato salad or coleslaw. Pickle juice, as we Southerners call it, makes excellent potato salad. They can also be interesting in salad dressings. Or just throw something else (baby carrots, jalapenos, radishes, whatever) into the jar, let sit a week or two, and see what happens.
posted by mostlymartha at 11:09 PM on January 2, 2010

Echoing tuna salad and potato salad. Also: egg salad, with relish too.
posted by Nattie at 11:11 PM on January 2, 2010

I read once the easiest way to make pickled eggs was to use leftover pickle juice/brine.
Just hard boil the eggs and place them into the jar(s). Leave them for a while ( I just guess) and voila! Pickled eggs. I've used different pickle juices and for various lengths of time.

At Christmas time use one jar of pickled beet juice and one jar of gerkin juice to make green and red Christmas pickled eggs. Easy and tasty! LOL
posted by Taurid at 11:16 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing refrigerator pickles for brine and salad dressing for oil.
posted by desuetude at 11:22 PM on January 2, 2010

My Polish co-worker once brought some home-made pickle soup for me to try. It was absolutely delicious. Yum, yum, yum.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:27 PM on January 2, 2010

I love dill pickle brine in chili (the hearty bean/tomato stew, not the pepper).

I also like to drink it straight.
posted by mezzanayne at 12:56 AM on January 3, 2010

I was once told that pickle juice was an excellent hangover remedy. I can't speak to its efficacy, but I can say that cold, salty, and a little spicy tastes pretty good when you're a bit dehydrated and groggy.
posted by pupdog at 1:45 AM on January 3, 2010

Vinaigrettes, you'd use it like any other vinegar. I was taught to sprinkle pickle juice over hot potatoes prior to making potato salad. My parents mix pickle juice with brown sugar and use it glaze ham. Olive juice could be used to thin out a tapenade in place of olive oil. If you were using olives as component in a dish (black olives and broccoli is good) you could use it to make a vinaigrette specifically for that. The vinegar from hot peppers, just a dash, is good in salad dressings also.

Pretty much: if they're acids, you can treat them as acids, if they're fats, you can use them as oil substitutes*, and if they're brine, it's basically a salt component. If their ingredient components are used again within the dish, so much the better.

*I wouldn't necessarily try active cooking with them, I think their sediment or whatever would make the smoke point really low.

You could whip the oil from olives into mashed potatoes with a few actual olives.

Pretty much done now.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:51 AM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

My wife used to make what I considered the world's best egg salad using olive juice.

Your question reminds me that I need to ask her why she never makes it any more. I'm hungry just thinking about it.
posted by imjustsaying at 3:10 AM on January 3, 2010

I add a little left over oil from the sun-dried tomatoes (complete with capers) when I am frying sliced chorizo sausages to go in pasta. Yum.
posted by bystander at 4:27 AM on January 3, 2010

re: pickle juice being a hangover remedy- my husband tells me football players used to drink pickle juice to help avoid getting leg cramps. Something to do with the sodium, perhaps? I guess it's the precursor to Gatorade.
Also: I use pickle juice in my potato salad. yummers!
posted by phogirl at 5:45 AM on January 3, 2010

Drink with whiskey when you are binging. Flavors go well together and the electrolytes will do you right the next day.
posted by Seamus at 6:20 AM on January 3, 2010

The secret to Chik-fil-a chicken breasts is that they marinate them in pickle juice. I tried that one time for some chicken I was throwing into a casserole with very pleasing results.
posted by kimdog at 6:31 AM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just tried this yesterday and it was very good: I added some of the juice/brine from Kalamata olives to some onion, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, and a few of the chopped olives. The result was a very tasty sauce that goes well with pasta or potatoes, or I'm sure other things as well.
posted by squawk at 7:30 AM on January 3, 2010

I use left over pickling juice and spices for saurbrauten. Marinate a pot roast in it, then add enough water to cover and simmer it until it is almost falling apart. Serve with noodles or spatzle and warm German potato salad.
posted by Pennyblack at 9:49 AM on January 3, 2010

I add olive brine and a few chopped olives to pasta sauce and it's delicious
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:36 PM on January 3, 2010

I also use brine from olives and capers as a quick way to flavor pasta sauces and chicken cacciatore. It works well to substitute half olive or pickle brine and half mayonnaise when making egg salad. Never thought of using it on potatoes before, but I will try this.
posted by amusebuche at 3:25 PM on January 3, 2010

I put some of the brine from green and black olives into my pasta puttanesca, it helps the flavor of the olives in there go further (and saves money).
posted by crabintheocean at 4:21 PM on January 3, 2010

At my hometown's creepy little roller skating rink, they used to sell it at the snack bar. A cube of "pickle ice" was just frozen pickle brine frozen in a normal ice cube tray. It cost a quarter, and it was sent from God.
posted by lauranesson at 5:08 PM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

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