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It's something you run into almost immediately once you start fermenting foods. (Photos for collage from Flickr: 1, 2, 3, 4) It's something I get asked all the time. What do you do with all that leftover brine? You've eaten your sauerkraut, pickles, carrots, or whatever delicious ferment you've made. Now what? Stop! Before you pour that delicious, effervescent, probiotic liquid down the sink... check out these delicious ideas! I bet you could think of more, too. This is just a short list to get you started.
20+ Ways to Use Leftover Brine from Fermented Vegetables
- Drink like a tonic- Either sip it straight, or dilute it with water or even sparkling water for a fun fizzy experience.
- Reuse for second ferment- this is a great way to kickstart fermentation rather than adding whey or vegetable starter culture. Or you could even use a little of both.
- Salad dressings- This is a delicious choice, indeed! Treat it similar to vinegar, add a little bit of oil, spices, even raw honey. The world is your fermented oyster.
- Nut cheese- I used this recipe but used brine from a ferment rather than the rejuvelac it calls for. Delish!
- Pickled eggs- This can get exciting. If you've made a colorful sauerkraut for instance, you can pickle hard boiled eggs in it to get fun colors.
- Cold soup base- Making gazpacho? Or cold cucumber soup? Add a little probiotics to it!
- Flavor to warm soup (not too hot, though!)- This is a favorite use at our house. Pass on the salt, a little fermented brine has more flavor, anyways. Just make sure the soup isn't so hot it will kill the good bacteria you want in your gut.
- Deviled eggs- Use it in place of lemon juice or mayonnaise or other liquid when you're blending those yolks.
- Mix into hummus- Make that olive oil go a little farther by using some brine, too.
- Tuna salad- Add a little more excitement to your tuna salad. Especially delicious with lacto-fermented relish juice.
- Egg salad- Again pass on the typical liquids or mayo. Add a little more excitement into your life.
- Potato salad- I think your starting to get the idea.
- Savory carbonated beverage- I haven't tried this personally, but Cultures for Health suggested it here. You add a spoonful of sugar (*cue music*) to a Grolsch bottle and ferment for a day or two. (Personally, I'll stick with kombucha, water kefir and Jun... but you go for it!)
- Speed up compost- Definitely don't throw it down the sink. At least compost it. The bacteria will love their new home.
- Drizzle on grains- What a great way to spruce up delicious rice, quinoa or other properly prepared grains. Or, if you don't eat grains, I'm sure you can think of something else to drizzle it over on your dinner plate...
- Use as a marinade- In a similar vein to vinegar, it tenderizes!
- Feed it to your chickens- Cluck, cluck cluck. They'll love you forever.
- Add to your veggie juice- Are you a juicer? Why not add a spritz of probiotics to that lovely concoction you make.
- Bloody Mary- Not a fan of the typical drink myself. But, actually, if it was made with brine from a ferment I might give it a go.
- Dirty Martini- See above.
- Sautéed greens- Rather than adding in a bit of oil, vinegar or anything else, use a bit of brine. The heat will kill the probiotics, but the flavor will be there.
- Add it to cultured mayo (or regular mayo)- if you make your own mayonnaise, use this liquid in it.
- Mix it into a dip for veggies- adds a fun flavor accent that will have guests wondering what your secret is.
- Pickle juice popsicles- yeah, I know, I've gone to far... But I''m sure SOMEBODY would like them, right? ;)
Those are the ideas I could think up and that I learned from other folks. What are YOUR ideas? What do YOU do with your leftover brine?
Wanting to learn more about FERMENTATION?
Check out these books I use and love!
Wanting to have on hand a simple guide to all things fermented? This is THE book for your kitchen. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods covers the basics of everything from simples cheeses, meats, vegetables, fruits, sourdough, simple beer, kombucha and much more. The recipes are very easy to follow, and most contain variations to give you room to play end experiment. I reference this book ALL the time for both information as well as recipes. I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you could only have one book on fermentation, this is the one I would suggest.
This book, The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the Worldby Sandor Katz (author of Wild Fermentation) will take your grasp of fermentation to the next level and beyond. It is a veritable tome of fermentation knowledge. This is not the book to have if you are looking for recipes. It is however the book to have if you want to know a little more about all things fermentation. It contains history, lore, science, and a cultural overview as well as tips for making and selling ferments. I love this book. I use this book both as a reference for information and for kitchen inspiration.
True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Homeis your go-to book for learning about beverage ferments. It covers everything from homemade ciders to beer, wine, kombucha, soda pop and much more. As the cover shows, it has absolutely gorgeous images that will inspire you! The recipes are laid out in a straightforward manner, and there are trouble-shooting sections that are very helpful when you have questions or when something doesn't go quite the way you thought it would in your fermentation kitchen.
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