Pickles that rise like the Phoenix
February 16, 2015 3:10 PM   Subscribe

I had a jar of delicious pickles. I really liked them. They're gone now but I still have the jar full of brine. Can I, like, chop up some cukes, toss 'em in there, wait, and then rejoice? Is this how pickling works?

Assuming (aka hoping against all hope) the above works, how many times can I reuse the brine?
posted by radiosilents to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
yeah, you can. the results might not be the same though. When I've done it (with regular cheap commercial pickles), it seemed like maybe the brine in the jar wasn't the same brine that gave the pickles their flavor. They tasted brined, but the other spicy flavors weren't there or were really dull.

I put the jar of brine in the microwave to boil it for a bit, just to feel better about stuff that may be living in there.

I have done pickled eggs this way with leftover kosher dill brine.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:22 PM on February 16, 2015

Well, strictly speaking pickles are made with "kirby" cucumbers, not regular store cucumbers. Not to say that you couldn't pickle a regular cucumber, or even zucchini for that matter. Just that texturally it might be a bit different.

I assume cucumbers will give up some of their water and dilute the brine a little bit. You'll have to taste it after the fact and see if it seems strong enough to repeat.
posted by O9scar at 3:52 PM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Most commercial pickles have an additive (alum I think it's called) to keep them crisp, they are also heated in the jar during the canning process. It would be perfectly viable to make some refrigerator pickles with the juice. I would not keep then around for too long though, or reuse the brine more than a time or 2 as the acidity will change as you keep adding the more alkaline cucumbers into it and the acidity is what keeps the pickles food safe from botulism etc. They will not taste exactly the same as the store bought ones and will most likely have a different texture but should be pretty close.

If there is a list of ingredients you might be able to recreate the recipe, fridge pickles are pretty easy to make, and proper canned ones in a jar aren't much harder.
posted by wwax at 3:53 PM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

The first batch of pickles absorbed a lot of salt, vinegar, and flavor out of the brine. You might want to rebolster it. To get an exact recreation would take some math based on the sodium content listed to replace the salt, then putting the exact amount of the same type of cucumber back in (whatever the drained weight of the pickles was), then topping it back off with vinegar (that's mostly guesswork unless you have a pH meter).

Other than that, it should make decent fridge pickles. They won't be exactly the same, especially because if these were shelf-stable pickles, they were pasteurized (cooked), but they should be edible. Look for pickling or Kirby cucumbers at the market.
posted by WasabiFlux at 4:19 PM on February 16, 2015

Sorry this isn't strictly an answer but I use my leftover pickle brine whenever I brine a chicken I'm going to roast. The flavor of the brine in the chicken is ever so faint but the brine makes a super nice, moist chicken.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 7:45 PM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

It might work better to make a cucumber salad with the brine. Slice cucumber in half lengthwise and then into super-thin slices (so you get a whole bunch of half-circles), lay them on a clean towel or paper towel to remove some of the moisture (so it doesn't dilute it) slice up 1/2 a red onion the same way...super thin. Soak it in the brine in the refrigerator overnight. Add garlic and/or cracked pepper and salt to taste. (I usually do this japanese style with just cucumber, onion, and sometimes wakame in rice wine vinegar with a little salt...yum!)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:48 AM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

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