It was a weird request. My friend Mary Ann asked if she could borrow some pickle juice. Huh? Who keeps pickle juice?
The purpose of pickle juice is to keep the pickles fresh and flavorful. And when the pickles are gone, out goes the juice, right? That practice makes Mary Ann cringe.
Here's the deal: Mary Ann is famous for her potato salad. She makes 10 pounds at a time, and it disappears faster than homemade ice cream on a hot summer day. Her secret (which she confides to only a chosen few) is sweet pickle juice. Not pickles, not relish — only the juice. And lots of it.
So, I wondered if there might be other uses for the briny stuff? A quick search of the multiple thousands of tips readers have sent to me over the years, plus research online, came up amazingly positive!
Really, I had no idea that pickle juice had so many health benefits or could be used in so many ways.
In the kitchen
Most marinades to tenderize meat contain the key ingredients of vinegar and salt. Adding things like garlic, pepper or even a bit of sugar improves the flavor and end result. Bingo! Those are common ingredients in pickle juice — either sweet or dill.
Use pickle juice to tenderize and flavor pork or beef — especially if you're dealing with a particularly tough cut.
Pour a can of drained, sliced beets into the pickle juice (sweet or dill), and after nine days, enjoy delicious pickled beets.
For a lively taste, use leftover sweet pickle juice in deviled eggs, or mix into meatloaf or meatballs.
Make your own french fry dipping sauce like this: 2 parts mayonnaise, 1 part ketchup, ½ teaspoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon sweet pickle juice. Mix well. Enjoy.
Put any variety or combination of fresh vegetables like sliced cucumbers, onions, carrots or pieces of cauliflower in leftover pickle juice (dill or sweet). In a couple of days, you'll have delicious veggie pickles.
Drop a few peeled hard-boiled eggs in pickle juice to make pickled eggs. Yum! Store the jar in the refrigerator for a few days until they become magically pickled.
Mary Ann's potato salad dressing
While she says that she never makes it the same way twice, Mary Ann insists on Best Foods (Hellman's) mayonnaise, lots of sweet pickle juice, mustard, salt and pepper — all to taste.
Drinking pickle juice may seem really gross to you, and I was right there with you. But I changed my mind quickly once I learned its amazing health benefits.
Drinking a small volume of pickle juice relieves muscle cramps within seconds of ingestion — something for which there's lots of anecdotal and medical evidence.
Just a few sips of pickle juice can quickly soothe annoying heartburn. Pickle juice seems to have the same health effects as straight-up vinegar.
It's mandatory to stay hydrated, especially while exercising. Hard workouts for longer periods of time, especially in the heat, can become problematic because sweating quickly depletes sodium (electrolytes) and potassium. Pickle juice is loaded with both. Sipping pickle juice after a hard workout will help you recover normal electrolyte levels more quickly.
One last thing: Just in case you're not one to consume enough pickles to produce lots of leftover juice, no worries! You can buy pickle juice in a six-pack, 12-pack or gallon!
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