What to do with brine?

photo credit: Helga Gillard

I get a twinge of guilt pouring the brine down the drain from a previously delicious jar of pickled beets or pickles. There has to be something to do with that liquid! It’s very concentrated though and not easy to use. Do you re-use brine from pickled things? How? Please share your tips in the comments!

Below is a recipe I came up with for using pickled beet brine in a vinaigrette and I’ve got to say, it’s awesome! We use this salad dressing a lot and it tastes particularly good with combinations of goat cheese, chicken or mild fish, fruit slices (apple, pear, strawberries), spinach, mixed greens, dried fruit (raisins, cranberries), nuts and seeds (walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds), etc. You could substitute it in recipes where raspberry vinaigrette is called for because it’s similarly coloured and sweet.

This recipe is adapted from a maple vinaigrette recipe. I substituted the pickled beet juice for the vinegar in the recipe. Because the beets are already sweet and seasoned, I cut back the maple syrup and basil from the original recipe. It works fine to double or triple the recipe to use up all the pickled beet juice you’ve got at once. I’m going to try something similar with dill pickle brine, like a cucumber dill dressing, or olive brine, maybe for a Greek salad.

This recipe is quite sweet. If you prefer a less sweet dressing maybe experiment with increasing the beet brine and decreasing the maple syrup or upping the lemon juice.

Pickled Beet Juice and Maple Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil or 1 teaspoon fresh basil minced small
  • 1/4 cup pickled beet brine
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation:

Blend or whisk all the ingredients together. I find that if you blend it you get a frothier, lighter coloured dressing that seems creamy but isn’t. I usually store it in a mason jar and shake it up well before using each time because the contents will separate. Refrigerated, the dressing will keep for several weeks.
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