Reusing Pickle Juice

We love our Claussen pickles (they’re one of the few commercial brands of food we buy) and for years I’ve regretfully poured the pickle juice out, until my passion for reuse got the better of me and we did an experiment.

Claussen Kosher Dill Pickle Juice, Sans Pickles. Photo © Liesl Clark

We sliced some beautiful spanish onion very thinly and threw it in the pickle juice sans pickles. A few hours later, the pickled onions were perfect! We’ve been enjoying them ever since. They go nicely on a salad, in guacamole, in tuna salad sandwiches and would likely be perfect for hamburgers and hot dogs. My children eat them straight out of the jar.

Thinly sliced Spanish onion is perfect for pickling. Photo © Liesl Clark

I did a little research across several discussion boards, to make sure reusing the juice is okay, and here’s what I learned: You can definitely reuse the juice to pickle fresh or blanched veggies in your refrigerator. Some people expressed concern about the health risks in reusing pickle juice for a new stash of pickled somethings. But almost all sites concluded that you should simply use your best judgement. Many admitted even drinking the stuff. Perusing the web showed me that there are pickle  juice-reusers out there who have been doing it for years. With good instincts and taste buds, and as long as you only reuse the pickle juice for short-term pickling in the refrigerator (no more than a couple of weeks), I think your re-pickles will be worth the risk.

Pickled onion. Yum. Photo © Liesl Clark

Some people add a teaspoon of kosher salt and another of distilled white vinegar to the jar to ensure a strong brine.

We’ve even started pickling our fresh-laid (hard boiled) eggs in there for a delicious lunch snack for the kids when cucumbers aren’t in season. Vegetables to definitely try are: Green tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, cauliflower, and mushrooms (very short term pickling). I’d like to also try a kimchi experiment with cabbage and carrots and use the pickle juice when I’m brining my favorite kimchi.

Of course, the one down-side to Claussen pickles is that they’re not entirely plastic-free. There’s that little plastic neck thing that corporate food tends to have around it to prove that no one has tampered with the glass jar. Local organic pickles don’t have those annoying plastic sealers and most of us are used to hearing that “pop” when a jar of safely-canned food is opened. You can always make your own pickles. We do, when they’re in season, and we have a great refrigerator pickle recipe for you here.

Organic Homemade Refrigerator Pickles. Photo © Liesl Clark

Other pickle juice reuse ideas that I’ve discovered?

1) I found one reference online that said you can clean your copper pots with pickle juice. Just dip your sponge in the juice and polish away!

2) Make a salad dressing using your pickle juice.

3) Try your hand at Polish pickle rye bread.

4) Pickletinis: Mix pickle juice with a dash of vodka or gin. I dare you to try one. Or, just do a pickleback shot: One shot of Irish whiskey and one shot of pickle juice.

5) Some extreme athletes have claimed that pickle juice helps them fight dehydration and cramping.

6) Fight colds with your pickle juice! Here are some words from a reader: “When my throat starts getting scratchy and I can tell I’m coming down with a sore throat, I take a big swig of pickle juice, and another in a few hours if need be. Not sure why, but it never fails to wipe out that nasty sore throat before it takes hold.”

Do you have any pickle juice reuses to share? Please do in the comments below!

Swiss Chard Is Two Veggies In One

Don’t throw those swiss chard stalks out! We’ve discovered a delicious thing or 3 to do with them.

Swiss Chard Stalks are Pretty and Delicious. Photo © Liesl Clark

I’m ashamed to say our swiss chard has been languishing in the garden because our family just hadn’t taken to these easy-to-grow greens, until now…

Swiss Chard From the Winter Garden Being Washed in the Farm Sink. Photo © Liesl Clark

First, separate your chard leaves from the stalks and cut your stalks into 4″ long pieces. Save them in  a bowl. Aren’t they pretty?

Chard Stalks in a Bowl Awaiting Further Instructions. Photo © Liesl Clark

Spicy Swiss Chard Chips:

We all know what kale chips are. Well, try making chips with your swiss chard, too. They’re a delicious and nutritious substitute for potato chips. By adding a little garlic powder, salt, and some chili powder, you won’t be able to eat just one.

Turn your oven to 275 degrees. Place your chard pieces on a baking sheet or glass baking pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil per baking pan and toss the chard leaves with equal amounts of sea salt and garlic powder and chili powder. That’s it! Add your spice to taste and be sure to not make it too salty.

Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the leaves over and bake another 10 minutes if needed. Your bake time depends on your baking dish.

Spicy Swiss Chard Chips Disappear Quickly. Photo © Liesl Clark


Chard Stalk Pickles:

Now take your stalks and if you have a bottle of Claussen pickle juice waiting for something delicious to throw in, just stuff a few of your raw stalks in the bottle and within a few hours you’ll have delicious chard stalk pickles. My kids love them.

Raw Claussen Swiss Chard Stalk Pickles. Photo © Liesl Clark

I found another recipe for delicious pickled swish chard stalks at Cookistry. But if you want to read my entertaining version with home-grown photography, here we go:

Blanch your stalks in boiling salted water for about 3-4 minutes. You want them to stay crunchy so be sure to not overcook them. Drain the stalks and try a few at this stage. Aren’t they delicious? We loved the slightly salted cooked stalks so much we saved a few and had them as a side dish with dinner.

Find a mason jar or 2 and put your stalks in them.

Then, bring the following ingredients to a boil and make sure everything is completely dissolved:

2 cups water
3/4 cup white vinegar
1  1/2 teaspoons salt
2  1/2 teaspoons sugar

Pour your water into your mason jars with chard stalks in them and screw the tops on. Put them in the refrigerator when they’ve cooled and you can enjoy these pickles for a few weeks.

Pickled Chard Stalks. Photo © Liesl Clark

Do you have a favorite chard stalk recipe? I was so excited to find a way to save them from the compost bin or chicken yard I’d love to learn of other chard stalk rescue recipes.