Whether they’re homemade or store bought, pickles are not only a terrific summer staple, but they’re a tasty treat year round. According to Pickle Packers International, Inc., the average American eats more than 9 pounds of pickles a year. Seeing how fast my family of three zips through a jar, I certainly believe it.
But once they’re gone, do you end up pouring all that salty-sweet brine down the drain? Such a waste!
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
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Why save that pickle juice? Not only is it environmentally friendly (it’s the 2nd “R” in “reduce, reuse, recycle,” after all), but pickle juice has potential health benefits.
It’s good for the gut.
If you buy your pickles from the refrigerated section or produce department, rather than a shelf in the condiment aisle, you’re likely getting lacto-fermented pickles, rather than those solely brined in vinegar. Fermented pickles contain probiotics, which “have incredible benefits on gut health and boost immunity,” says Jodi Greebel, MS, RDN, founder of Citrition, LLC.
Ingesting fermented foods, such as kimchi and kombucha, boosts good bacteria in your gut. “The balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria in most people’s gut is off,” says Greebel. As a whole, “we eat so many processed foods that we’re not getting enough good, probiotic bacteria,” she says. Too much of the bad bacteria can lead to stomach problems and getting sick more often. “Pickle juice is another way to get probiotics into your diet,” she adds.
It’s good for blood sugar.
Whether brined or fermented, most commercial pickles have vinegar as a base. A study out of Arizona State University showed that vinegar—and, by extension, vinegar-based pickle juice—may lower blood sugar levels in non-diabetic people when taken with a meal composed of complex carbohydrates (peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables).
“Controlling blood sugar can have important effects on appetite and hunger and, therefore, weight loss,” notes Greebel. “Stable blood sugar prevents cravings as well as overeating. It may also increase metabolism,” she says.
It’s good for muscle cramps.
Pickle juice has also been shown to decrease muscle cramps, which could benefit those who exercise frequently. Pickle juice is higher in sodium, which is an electrolyte that helps restore your body after a workout. “It’s very important to replace electrolytes when you do intense activity and lose a lot of fluids through sweat,” says Greebel.
“Sports drinks provide electrolytes, but usually come with a lot of calories, sugar, and food dyes,” she adds. Though most people who exercise can rehydrate simply with water, Greebel says pickle juice offers a way to get similar benefits that’s “healthier and less expensive” than sports drinks.
There is also anecdotal evidence that pickle juice helps with menstrual cramps. “Since many women crave salt during their menstrual cycle,” says Greebel, “pickle juice is definitely worth a try if you suffer from monthly cramps.”
What about the sodium?
If you’re concerned about sodium intake, Greebel suggests discussing it with your doctor. For healthy individuals, however, foods higher in sodium are “less of a concern, especially if you’re exercising, drinking a lot of water, and eating a diet composed primarily of whole, unprocessed foods,” she says. “Your body naturally regulates salt, when not consumed in excessive amounts. If you’re drinking a lot of water, and eating foods high in potassium, your body will flush it out.”
Sodium is much more of a concern for people who eat a lot of fast and processed foods. Still, Greebel cautions, “Don’t eat things with pickle juice every day. But as part of a healthy diet, every now and then is okay.”
While it’s difficult to determine how much sodium is in the brine of commercial pickles, since the labels refer to the pickles, not the brine, you can buy pickle juice. One product contains 94 mg sodium per tablespoon; another has 125 mg per tablespoon. Not all product labels, however, come with nutritional information.
If you make the pickles yourself, you can play with lower-sodium recipes. But even if you use a more standard recipe, bear in mind that different brands of kosher salt have different-size crystals. In other words,1 teaspoon of one brand might have more sodium compared to another brand. Always check the labels.
Calculating the sodium in your brine is pretty straightforward. For example, 1 teaspoon kosher salt has 1,920 mg sodium. Dissolved in 1 cup liquid (equal parts water and vinegar), that’s 16 tablespoons brine at 120 mg sodium each.
For reference, the daily upper limits for sodium is 2,300 mg, and 1,500 mg for people over 50. When using leftover brine as a marinade or to pickle something else, the amount of juice you use is less worrisome, since you’re not ingesting all of it. But for uses where you’re taking it straight, pay attention to how much you use.
Uses for leftover pickle juice
As a pickler
You can reuse pickle juice to pickle vegetables almost indefinitely. Add more water and vinegar (in equal parts), if needed to cover the vegetables with the brine. Since this starts to mess with the pH of the pickling solution—and its ability to safely preserve food—it is not recommended for canning or dry-storing pickles. Opt instead for quick pickles, which can be stored in the fridge. Gently heat the liquid before pouring over the veggies.
As a vinegar replacement
If you’re going to replace some or all of the vinegar (or lemon juice) in a recipe, first consider what else goes into the dish. If there are high-sodium ingredients—condiments (mustard, mayo, BBQ sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, soy sauce, tartar sauce, relish), commercial salad dressings, commercial seasoning mixes, commercial pasta sauce, vegetable juice, olives, shrimp, canned tuna, ham, deli meats, sausage, most cheeses, flour tortillas—skip any added salt, or maybe try another recipe. Depending on your pickle juice, aim for no more than 1 or 2 tablespoons of pickle juice per serving, or no more than ¼ cup to ½ cup for 4 people. Try replacing vinegar in dishes such as potato salad, gazpacho, or even cole slaw with pickle juice for extra zing.
On its own
Often, a little goes a long way. With all its herbal and salty notes, pickle juice becomes its own instant ingredient, especially when homemade. Try pickle juice as a meat marinade, use it as the base of a bloody mary, or freeze it in ice cube trays and pop a cube into seltzer water for a post-workout pick-me-up.
You can even use it as a weed killer. “One of the most important organic herbicides is a group of products under the big name horticultural vinegars,” says Mike McGrath, host of the nationally syndicated public radio show “You Bet Your Garden.” While pickling vinegar isn’t full strength, “it can be very effective,” he says. Spray it on big leaves, but wait until a hot and sunny day when there hasn’t been a lot of rain, he says, then pull the weed once it’s brown. You can also pour it right around the roots of a problematic plant that’s resisting pulling (just not poison ivy!) during a hot, dry spell. “You’ll give it a hurtin,’” says McGrath.
While he’d rather use it in the kitchen, McGrath notes “it would be a sin to throw away” that pickle juice. We couldn’t agree more.
54 Surprising Ways to Use Leftover Apples
Here’s some shocking news: Apples are good for us! The plump little fruits are a good source of vitamin C and fiber, and have been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, certain cancers, and asthma. Apple-products phytochemicals and processing: a review. Soler C, Soriano JM, Mañes J. Natural product communications, 2009, Jul.4(5):1934-578X. Add in the flavor, and we can understand why it’s easy to go hog wild at a farmer’s market or orchard.
But then you end up with more raw apples than a belly can handle in one sitting (or even several) and run out of ideas for how to use them. So we’ve rounded up 54 creative ways to maximize apples’ benefits and keep them from going to waste.
1. Bake ’em.
Eat them on their own, sprinkled with cinnamon, or on top of a bowl of cereal or oatmeal for a healthy breakfast, snack, or dessert. Better yet, bake them with breakfast inside.
2. Stew ’em.
Pair the stewed apples from this recipe with whole-grain waffles or toast, some plain yogurt (the apples will provide enough sweetness!), or oatmeal for a snazzy, vitamin-packed addition to breakfast.
3. Sauté them with onions.
Combine the health properties of apples and onions into one delectable side dish.
4. Make apple butter.
After simmering and puréeing those apples, you’ll be able spread them over whole-grain toasts and bagels for many breakfasts to come (a great alternative to butter or margarine).
5. Make applesauce.
The childhood classic is fairly easy to make healthy (as long as you don’t dump a ton of sugar in there) and can use up a whole bunch of apples in one go. Bonus: Use the sauce to make an applesauce cake.
6. Add them to sandwiches.
PB&A is the new PB&J. Apples also go great with turkey, Swiss, and mustard on whole-grain bread.
7. Make a gratin.
The round fruit will be barely recognizable after mixing it with eggs (for a healthy dash of protein) and popping it in the broiler.
8. Add them to pancakes.
This recipe had us at “pancakes”. The apples give the ’cakes a texture similar to potato latkes and add sweetness without all those refined sugars.
9. Add them to chicken.
It might not look very appetizing, but this recipe tastes good and gives the body a dose of protein and antioxidants, to boot.
10. Add them to soups.
Mix some vitamin A with apples’ vitamin C in this carrot-apple-ginger soup.
11. Make a compote.
With no added sugar and a cornucopia of antioxidants, this fruit compote is a healthy, delectable way to use up those apples and spruce up a breakfast, snack, or dessert.
12. Pickle them.
Just in time for cold season, this spicy recipe uses up apples and goes to war on behalf of the immune system.
13. Turn them into relish.
Relish this relish recipe! Up the health factor by using less sugar than the recipe calls for.
14. Add ’em to salads.
Apples brighten up any salad and add some juicy crunch to those greens. For a salad that’ll keep you full, check out this apple, pecan, and bleu cheese salad recipe.
15. Turn them into a marinade.
Make a marinade for meat dishes with a healthy dose of apples, garlic, and spices.
16. Add ’em to coleslaw.
Finally, a mayo-free coleslaw that looks just as delicious as the original version!
17. Make a chutney.
Chock-full of apples, onions, garlic, and spices, this chutney is basically a delectable mashup of superfoods.
18. Make a salsa.
For a preservative-free version of the store-bought stuff, make this spicy apple salsa.
19. Grill them.
These flavorful apple rings make for an awesome side of vitamin C and deliciousness.
20. Mix them with chickpeas.
For a low-fat, vegetarian protein dish, check out this recipe for apples and chickpeas—the perfect dinner for a brisk fall day.
21. Mush ’em into jam.
Jam recipes usually call for a lot of sugar, but what sets this homemade jam apart from the store-bought stuff is that it’s made with fresh fruit and contains no preservatives.
22. Scramble ’em with sausage.
This sausage and apple sauté is full of protein, herbs, apples, and some healthy fats from olive oil. Replace the sausage in this recipe with turkey sausage for a leaner meat alternative.
23. Serve a healthier dessert.
Slice some apples in half, scoop out the center, and fill them with raisins, honey, and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Bake and top with Greek yogurt—you might not miss the pie and ice cream (but no guarantees).
24. Bake ’em into chips.
For a healthier alternative to the potato variety, try out this recipe for homemade apple chips.
25. Put ‘em in a frittata.
This frittata is so low-calorie, low-sugar, and low-fat, it’s almost hard to believe. (It calls for egg substitute, but we’re happy to use the real things.)
26. Stuff ’em into a squash.
This dish calls on the health properties of apples, pecans, squash, and lean turkey sausage—with beautiful results.
27. Add ’em to granola.
All that’s needed to make this apple granola is a blender, a roasting pan, and an oven. Cut down on the sugar to make it even healthier.
28. Cook ’em with sprouts.
Brussels sprouts are all the rage this time of year, and when paired with apples and butter they’re pretty much an unbeatably delicious side dish.
29. Bake some bread.
The description of this apple-cinnamon bread had us drooling. Swap in whole-wheat flour to make it even more nutritious.
30. Put ‘em in a pie.
Okay, so it’s predictable, but it’s also classic: Apple pie is probably one of the greatest comfort foods out there. Make it healthier by cooking the filling in the apple—it’ll cut back on excess crust (and look really cool!).
31. Make a (quinoa) cake.
This recipe is Greatist-approved, loaded with more protein than most baked goods (thanks to the quinoa), and probably pretty easy to make gluten-free (just substitute in gluten-free flour).
32. Make some alcoholic popsicles.
Don’t mind if we do! Cherries, apples, and limes add a shot of color and antioxidants to this frozen whiskey treat.
33. Preserve them.
If you seriously cannot eat another apple right now, then don’t—can, freeze, or dry them so you can enjoy them six to 12 months down the road.
34. Whip up a tartine.
A tart-what? We’re not sure either, but it seems to be a healthier version of dessert pizza—use whole-wheat flour, apples, and some natural sweeteners for a meal fit for anytime of day.
35. Give the dog a treat.
Make Fido’s day with these homemade, preservative-free dog treats.
36. Add them to smoothies.
Perhaps one of the quickest ways to get rid of leftover apples is to drink them for breakfast every day until they’re gone. Keep the classic b-fast beverage interesting by trying out these varied apple smoothie recipes.
37. Make apple juice.
The homemade, unfiltered, unsweetened variety retains all the good stuff and adds nothing bad.
38. Make cider.
This might be surprising, but it’s not that hard to make apple cider at home. The homemade stuff is full of vitamin C and doesn’t use any preservatives or added sugar.
39. Make hard cider.
This one’s a little more complicated, but for those dedicated to getting their gluten-free drink on, we’re sure the reward is worth the investment.
40. Infuse some vodka.
It sounds fancy-pantsy, but it’s really easy-peasy. Just chop up some apples, pour vodka over them, and let the mixture sit around for a few days or a couple weeks. Voila!
41. Hold candles.
Fill a boring Saturday and pretty up a home with these homemade apple candle holders.
42. Make potpourri.
Bring the smell of fall indoors (without the chemicals found in air fresheners) with this homemade potpourri recipe.
43. Suck up extra salt.
If you’ve sweated over a soup or sauce only to discover you added too much salt, don’t fret! Just toss a few apple slices into the pot, stir, and remove before serving—they’ll absorb the extra salt and guests will be none the wiser.
44. Soften brown sugar.
Who hasn’t opened up a bag of brown sugar only to find that it’s calcified into a couple of grainy bricks? No worries: Just pop an apple slice into a sealed bag, place the bag in the brown sugar, and in a few days those grains will sift right through your fingers.
45. Ripen other fruits.
The ethylene gas emitted by apples can help avocados, bananas, and other fruits ripen more quickly, so plop an apple in the fruit basket next to these other fruits next time you don’t feel like waiting five days to make guacamole.
46. Keep baked goods moist.
Plop a cake or other baked goods into an airtight container with half an apple. They’ll stay fresh longer thanks to the apple’s moisture.
47. Amp up a workout.
While doing crunches, squeeze an apple between the thighs for an added muscular challenge.
48. Give yourself a facial.
Apply apples’ health powers to your face with an apple and honey face mask.
49. Nip a headache in the bud.
Studies have found that smelling a green apple can reduce the intensity of a migraine and help it end sooner.
50. Drink out of them.
These simple apple cups are easy to make, easy on Mother Earth (since they eliminate the use of disposable cups or the washing of reusable ones), and easy to munch down on if you’re in need of a snack after that drink.
51. Make stamps.
Add a homemade touch to holiday cards with these easy-to-make apple stamps.
52. Shrink some heads.
Halloween may be over, but you can still get your gruesome on with these crafty shrunken heads.
53. Make a bird feeder.
Make a Mother-Earth-friendly birdfeeder from completely biodegradable (and bird-safe) materials. Or, if not feeling particularly crafty, just toss the fruits out into the yard and let the animals do the work themselves.
54. Share them!
If there are still some apples left over, we have to wonder how many you bought (we’re imagining several truck’s full). But seriously: Sharing is caring. And eating with other people is often more fun (and better for our health) than eating alone.
Don’t toss your leftover pickle juice, especially if that jar of pickles was pricy. But even if the pickle juice was store-brand dills, celery sticks steeped overnight in pickle juice (in the fridge) are delicious the next day. And they only get better after a few days in the fridge. 6 Surprising Ways to Use Up Celery - Waaay beyond ants-on-a-log! #HealthyKitchenHacks via @TspCurry Click To Tweet
7 Surprising Uses For Pickle Juice
1. Vinegar Replacement
You can use pickle juice in almost any recipe that calls for vinegar. Try using it in salad dressings, soups, coleslaws, and more. Pickle juice adds an extra boost of flavor to anything you put it in!
2. Make More Pickled Food
Toss a handful of baby carrots or shredded carrots in there and let it sit in your fridge for a few days. The pickled carrots make a deliciously tangy snack!
Another option delicious option would be using thinly sliced red onions, plus a few sprigs of cilantro for an extra pop of flavor. These quick pickled onions would be perfect as a topping for salads, sandwiches, or tacos!
You can also put a few peeled hard-boiled eggs in pickle juice to make pickled eggs! (Again, just leave them in the fridge for a few days to let the pickle juice work its magic.)
3. Marinade & Meat Tenderizer
Salty, tangy pickle juice makes a great marinade for meat. You can also use it to tenderize tougher cuts! For a marinade that’s perfect for pork or steak, whisk together some pickle juice, minced garlic, pepper, and mustard. Brush the mixture on the pork or steak, then let it marinate for an hour or up to overnight. Grill or roast the meat for a tender and flavorful meal!
You can also use pickle juice to marinate chicken. Place your chicken in a ziplock bag and pour in some pickle juice. (Add a splash of milk too for a more toned-down pickle flavor.) Let the chicken marinate overnight, then grill to your liking.
You can also use pickle juice as a basting mixture while you grill. Just add some minced garlic and your favorite spices to some pickle juice, then spoon it over your meat as it cooks. Yum!
4. Health Drink
As strange as it sounds, there are plenty of good reasons to drink your leftover pickle juice! Here are just a few of the situations where drinking pickle juice could be helpful:
- Post-Workout Drink – Drinking pickle juice after an intense workout can help prevent muscle cramps. It also contains electrolytes (even more than most sports drinks!) that can help you stay hydrated.
- PMS Remedy – The sodium content of pickle juice can help prevent muscle cramps, and not just the kind you get after working out. You can drink pickle juice to help reduce PMS-related cramping too!
- Heartburn Remedy – Take a few sips of pickle juice to help reduce heartburn.
- Laxative – Drink a small glass of pickle juice to help gently ease constipation.
- Upset Stomach – Drink a small glass of pickle juice to help with general “upset tummy” symptoms. It can help with digestion, which usually clears up low-grade stomach discomfort.
- Hiccup Stopper – Some people swear by drinking pickle juice as a cure for hiccups. Give it a try the next time you have hiccups you can’t seem to shake!
5. Food Enhancer
Adding a splash of pickle juice is an easy way to enhance the flavor of many foods! Here are a few ways to use it:
- Make your own Utah-style “fry sauce,” our favorite dipping sauce for french fries! ( Get the recipe here. )
- Liven up store-bought barbecue sauce by adding a tablespoon of pickle juice.
- Add a splash to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.
- Marinate soft white cheese in pickle juice for a tangy twist.
- Mix pickle juice with a little beef broth, and use the mixture as a broth for Korean-style cold noodles.
- Add a splash of pickle juice to your fresh vegetable juice.
- Elevate hummus with a few dashes of pickle juice.
- Use pickle juice to perk up poached fish.
- Add a splash to your meatloaf mixture when you add the other condiments.
6. Cleaning Agent
Make your tarnished copper pans sparkle by cleaning them with pickle juice! You can also use it to clean off your grill grates. Those charred, crusty bits are much easier to scrape off after you soaked them with a bit of pickle juice.
7. Garden Helper
Some plants like hydrangeas and rhododendrons thrive in acidic soil. You can add pickle juice to the soil around these plants to help increase its acidity. Avoid pouring it directly on your plants, which could cause damage. (Speaking of which, you can also use pickle juice as a weed killer! Just pour a bit on dandelions, thistles, and other weeds as a pet-friendly herbicide.)
Over the last few weeks my OGT team and I have had the pleasure of creating a dessert table for two different parties, including the beautiful table . Continue Reading
I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I've been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!
Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!
Surprising Ways to Add Pickled Foods Into Each Meal, For Gut Health
When I mention pickles, most people I encounter automatically picture a cucumber, maybe cut into spears or coins or as relish, but almost always cucumbers. That’s why I’m here to tell you that there’s so much more!
Incorporating pickles of all varieties is one way you can provide support to your body by directly “feeding” your digestive system with healthy bacteria (probiotics), native yeasts and digestive enzymes. This can help you break down meals easier, thus increasing the levels of nutrient absorption, among other health benefits.
What Exactly is Pickling?
Pickling is technically a method of “cooking” or breaking down food, sometimes to preserve it, and sometimes for more immediate consumption. This breaking down can occur two different ways: pickles can be fermented over time, or cured quickly in acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice. Massaging vegetables with the later will yield the sour, pickled taste you crave in less time than fermentation.
So, What Makes A Veggie Pickle?
Sometimes I pickle raw or lightly steamed veggies by heating a combination of acid, sugar, salt and maybe some spices, then sealing them together in jars. You can find my vinegar-pickled carrots and radishes recipe here. When fermenting, the sour relies on living bacteria or yeast – sometimes added and sometimes naturally occurring – to transform carbohydrates to alcohol. This takes longer than vinegar pickling, and requires a fairly stable ambient room temperature, but the health benefits are huge.
Remember though,it’s not all about veggies. Yogurt, fish sauce, and umeboshi are all ferments, too! I eat all types of these foods to bring a variety of health benefits, texture and flavors. This winter I’ve been pickling hard squashes (red kuri, delicata, buttercup, butternut) as well as rainbow carrots, beets, onions and radishes. I’m also still enjoying the benefits of last summer’s watermelon rind, zucchini and green strawberries.
Here are some other examples of how I get these beneficial “bugs” into my guts!
Fermented sauerkraut on top of an omelet.
Yogurt or kefir. Make sure to check labels… Some contain more sugar than a twinkie! Personally, I buy plain, grass-fed whole-milk yogurt and add berries or dates to sweeten.
Leftover veggies heated with bone broth and finished with a spoonful of miso once removed from heat.
Umeboshi nibbled with sushi.
Spring rolls loaded with both fresh and various pickled veggies.
Vinegar-pickled carrots and radishes, a chunk of cheese and a handful of nuts.
Prosciutto, pears and fermented green beans.
Fermented cauliflower on top of slow cooked pork shoulder.
A (bun-less) burger topped with vinegar-pickled onions, fermented radish.
Kombucha to accompany any meal!
Fermented sweet plums over coconut milk ice cream.
Flourless chocolate cake with crème fraiche or sour cream and berries.
Aiming to incorporate 2-3 servings per day works well for me, but I suggest starting slowly with 2-3 servings per week then build up over a few months.
Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
There’s ample information online about acidifying your soil to, for example, make your hydrangeas turn blue. (Soil is considered acidic at pH 5.5 or lower. More on that here.) A lot of folk wisdom mentions using vinegar for this purpose, since vinegar is acidic, and so pickle juice is considered an option. The problem is that pickle juice also contains salt, which can cause a plant to wilt. While in reality, acidifying soil requires changing the ratio of sulfur to calcium, a more scientific process, adding a little pickle juice into the soil around an acid-loving plant probably won’t hurt just be sure to dilute it heavily with water so the salinity doesn’t shock the plant.
This one’s a treat with the benefits of the sports drink, but more fun. I made pickle pops and had some coworkers test them. My recipe combined 1 cucumber, 1 cup pickle juice and a teaspoon of honey, blended and poured in popsicle molds (which made 6 pops). Julia, our resident pickle juice skeptic, said: “It’s basically frozen cucumber water with dill. It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.” Jill, also on our SEO team, was pleasantly surprised. “It’s just like a savory popsicle. The zing is really refreshing. I thought it would be something a kid would like, but now I think it's more for an adult.” Two editors on our staff, Keri and Alley, really love pickles, so they were delighted with the same flavor in popsicle form.
#6: Keeps You Hydrated
During a workout, it’s common knowledge that you need plenty of ordinary water, but you may also want to consider spiking it with pickle juice.
Salt is one of the most important factors in staying hydrated, because it encourages your body to hold on to its water deep down on a cellular level.
So next time you go for a run or hit the gym, be sure to sip some pickle juice too.
Pickling 101: A Beginner's Guide
Pickling any vegetable that's losing its crunch is a surprisingly easy thing to do. With a little vinegar, salt, sugar, and select spices, you can transform aging veggies into a savory stand-alone snack or zesty ingredient to revive a tired recipe. This is also one of the best ways to stretch your produce dollars and preserve summer flavors for the bland, winter months.
What you'll need
Dig out your two biggest cooking pots &mdash one for preparing the pickled vegetables and another for the canning process. You'll want to use the larger pot for boiling and sealing the canning jars. One inch of water should keep the jars covered at all times. Invest in a new case of Ball or Kerr brand canning jars, selecting a size that best fits with your pot. Keep a set of tongs handy to remove hot jars from boiling water.
Choose which vegetables you want to pickle. Typically, veggies with a tougher skin like cucumbers and peppers do best in the pickling process, but root vegetables like carrots and radishes also work well. A good rule of thumb is the sturdier the vegetable, the better.
Stock up on vinegar. Most recipes call for cider vinegar or distilled vinegar. Pull salt, sugar, and dry spices from your pantry and make sure you have enough of each veggie. If you want to boost the flavor, consider buying fresh herbs rather than using dried ones.
Pickling dos and don'ts
&bull Don't be lured by "European-style" canning jar marketing &mdash these options will only make the process more difficult and expensive.
&bull Don't buy new cookware if your jars are too big for your largest pot buy new jars instead. Jars are far less expensive and come in 8-ounce and 16-ounce sizes. You can always find creative ways to use the extra set of jars.
&bull Do invest in a canning kit that includes wide-grip tongs to make the process go more smoothly. Ball sells a Canning Utensil Set ($10) with jar tongs, a wide funnel to make the jar-filling process easy, and a magnet-tipped wand that helps remove lids from hot water.
&bull Don't take shortcuts. The jar and lid sterilization process, boiling water timing, and amount of vinegar used are all critical components to crafting perfect pickles.
&bull Do consider both sweet and salty when making recipes. If you add more vinegar to the pickling liquid mixture, increase the sugar proportionally to keep the flavor balanced. Remember that you can always add more vinegar or sugar, but you can't remove any.
&bull Don't obsess when measuring fresh veggies. You can vary from the recipe's specified amount by a full cup without affecting the outcome. Just try to cut all vegetables to the same relative size and cover them evenly with the pickling liquid.
&bull Do get creative! Pickling provides great opportunity to play with a variety of herb, spice, and flavor combos. Blend together a few favorites to create your own pickling recipe others will envy. Just keep in mind that herbs like celery seed, turmeric, and garlic pack a heavy punch, so integrate them gingerly. Always taste your spice mixture and pickling liquid before canning, and remember that flavors continue to age and marinate after the jars are sealed.
&bull Don't be afraid &mdash pickles are one of the safest foods to can. They are protected from mold and bacteria growth due to high acidity levels in vinegar, and they won't explode during the canning process despite the water's high heat and pressure.
Press Table: For tender, tasty pork chops, try pickle juice marinade
Sometimes trying a new recipe that’s passed along by a friend or gleaned from some Internet posting requires a little bit of trust. Sometimes it requires a lot of trust. That was the case a few years ago when a friend shared a recipe that he’d “heard about somewhere.”
It went something like this: “You know what I saw today? Dill pickle pork chops!”
Dill pickle pork chops! You marinate them in leftover pickle juice.”
My first thought was. “Absolutely not.” Don’t misunderstand: I love pickles. All kinds of pickles and almost all pickled foods (sorry okra and pig’s feet). I eat pickles every single day. I like pork, too. It’s on the menu at our house often, marinated and cooked any number of ways. But pickle juice?
As odd as that seems, what you want in a marinade is something a little bit acidic, something a little salty, something a little sweet, and a nice hit of flavor all in balance. That’s exactly what dill pickle juice is, isn’t it?
As odd , with only a pork chop or two to lose we decided to try it.
I covered two thick, boneless pork chops in dill pickle juice and marinated them all day. I flipped them once when I got home from work, but didn’t bother them again until tossing them on the grill.
The results were surprising. The chops were not “pickle-y” at all. The meat was very tender and had a different but delicious flavor. It’s a really nice change from sticky sauces, rubs or other marinades, and it couldn’t possibly be any easier. You don’t even have to stir anything. We have eaten a lot of pickles and marinated a lot of chops since that first experiment.
PICKLE JUICE PORK CHOPS
1. Marinate boneless pork chops in the pickle juice for as long as you can. I try to marinate overnight if possible.
2. Sprinkle pepper on both sides, and salt if you want it. Some pickle brines are very salty on their own some are not.
3. Grill over medium heat/medium flame for 8 to 10 minutes per side. I usually use fairly thick-cut chops, so they take a while. The recommended safe internal temperature is 145 degrees. Just don’t overdo it or you’ll lose all the tenderness gained by the long marinade.
4. Enjoy … then convince your friends that pork in pickle juice really is a good thing. Once we’ve convinced a friend or family member to try it, they’re always happy with the result.
• What do you do if you’re not as pickle obsessed as I am and don’t routinely have multiple containers of pickles sloshing around the fridge? Visit your local sandwich shop, deli or restaurant. I’ve found that most places just dump the leftover brine when the pickles are gone and will probably fill a container for you or let you know when they’re ready to toss the leftover liquid.
• You’re also not limited to dill pickle juice. We love using the brine from horseradish pickles, but almost any kind would work. I haven’t tried sweet pickle juice just because it’s so easy to burn sweet glazes on the grill. That one might work better in the oven. Garlic or spicy pickle juice would probably be delicious.