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Reusing Pickle Brine

By Cook's Illustrated Published July 2014

Can you use leftover pickle brine to make a batch of homemade pickles?

We tried quick-pickling fresh cucumber slices in leftover brine using two common methods. For the first batch, we put fresh cucumber slices right into the leftover brine. For the second, we brought the leftover brine to a boil and then poured it over cucumber slices that we had salted and left to drain for 1 hour. We refrigerated both batches for 24 hours before sampling them.

Although the untreated cucumbers picked up a little tang from the brine, for the most part they retained their fresh cucumber flavor. The treated cucumbers, on the other hand, produced good results. They had the right dense texture and deeper color, and they were brightly flavored and well seasoned with garlic and dill from the brine.

To make quick pickles from leftover brine, toss cucumber slices in a colander with salt (1 1/2 teaspoons per pound of cucumbers) and let them sit for 1 hour; then transfer them to a jar. Bring the brine to a boil and pour it over the pickles. Seal the jar and refrigerate the pickles for 24 hours before eating. The pickles can be kept for up to two weeks. (We don’t recommend reusing the brine more than once.)