Can You Reuse Pickle Brine?

half empty jar

At least once a week, someone asks me if they can reuse the brine that’s leftover in the jar when all the pickles have been eaten. I’m here to say, yes! You can absolutely reuse that brine as long as…

  1. You’re only using it to make refrigerator pickles. Once a brine has been used to can something, that’s it. You can’t do it again because you can’t guarantee the acidity level once it has been heated up, hot water processed, absorbed by vegetables and refrigerated for an unknown amount of time.
  2. It doesn’t look murky or cloudy. I typically find that the maximum number of times you can replenish the veggies in a jar is three. After that, you’ve lost too much brine volume and it’s developed an unhealthy scum.

refilled pickle jar

One tip when refilling your pickle jar is to take out the last of the pickles from the previous batch before popping the fresh veg in. I forgot to do it last time, and now all my wonderfully cured pickle slices are trapped at the bottom of the jar.

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33 Responses to Can You Reuse Pickle Brine?

  1. 1
    Livia says:

    The most I’ve ever had the courage to do was twice, but I am glad that you have tested this for science. 🙂

    Just made a batch of my favorite asian-inspired cucumber and carrot pickles this morning and was very sad I didn’t have any onions to slice in. (I had pantry moths, and I think they liked the onion skins, so I’m trying not to buy more until 6-8 weeks from when I had them… my resolve is weakening)

  2. 2
    wynk says:

    Hmm I have always wondered about this. Of course I tend to DRINK my pickle brine, soo…:x

  3. 3

    This post came at such an opportune time–I literally just pickled some quick red onions. I didn’t let them sit in the brine for too long, and was under the impression that I could reuse the liquid. In fact, was going to do it tomorrow! Who knows, perhaps you’ve scared me off. We’ll see when I face my fridge, and my onions 🙂

    http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/2009/08/whats-in-bag-turkey-burgers-with-beet.html

  4. 4
    David says:

    So…how long after placing new cucumbers into brine will they be ready to eat!!!

  5. 5
    Marisa says:

    David, when you reuse pickle brine, it really depends on the strength of the brine. If it’s really pungent and vinegar-y, you should be able to eat the pickles within a couple of days. If it’s less strong, it might take a bit more time. The best thing to do is to taste them after a few days and see for yourself whether you like their level of pickle-ness.

  6. 6
    Abby says:

    When you reuse the brine, do you have to boil it again or just throw the cucumbers in and go with it?

  7. 7
    ziggy says:

    i just bought some cucumbers to use with pre bought brine.
    i sterilized the jar, lightly boiled the brine and put them in…
    its been 24 hours. the cuckes have just started to turn dark green and the taste is still far off…will update in a few days time…

  8. 8
    ron says:

    what about leftover brine that was not used. I used too much vinegar/spices and did not have enough cukes to use it all. I put it all back into the jug after cooling. Can I reuse it as well?

  9. 9
    M J D says:

    I canned a batch of lime pickles last week & had half the brine left over. Last night I canned another batch, using the half batch of used and adding another half batch of fresh. Please tell me I haven’t wasted all that time, effort & produce!!

  10. 10
    marisa says:

    MJD, I would imagine your pickles should be fine.

  11. 11
    Ginger says:

    Dill pickle brine, especially kosher, and olive oil with some Mrs. Dash seasoning makes a wonderful salad dressing.

  12. 12
    Patty says:

    I canned some watermellon rind relish from You Can Can. After processing I found the headspace had increased to 1 inch and the liquid has been mostly absorbed.
    The seal is good. Is the relish safe?

  13. 13
    M Leuzzi says:

    Fresh cukes, cauliflower or other ‘hard’ veggies… at least 3 times.

    It’s just vinegar, salt and maybe a tad o water.

    Do NOT empty pickles, let the brine sit out in the heat for a while, then reuse.

    Very dangerous.

  14. 14
    Joe Rose says:

    I have done it too, and only use the same brine twice. I fill the jar with white vinegar to top it off. After a few days they are great.

  15. 15
    Maren says:

    I use mine to make salad dressing, gives it a unique flavor.

  16. 16
    Olivia says:

    We canned pickles and had extra brine (bread and butters). We went ahead and just canned the brine with no vegetables, can I use it to make sweet relish?

  17. 17
    Julia says:

    Just made some fridge pickled cauliflower and carrots (the latter’s a new experiment for me!). I’m a bit confused because the article states that you can reuse the brine (assuming it’s not cloudy) *only if* you’re making refrigerator *pickles*. A previous commenter stated that “hard veggies” (e.g. cauliflower) can make for reusable brine too. Do carrots fall into this “hard veggies” category? Can I reuse brine from my fridge-pickled *veggies* (not fridge pickles)? I’m almost certainly splitting hairs here, but I’ve never reused brine before…I absolutely want to if I can, because it seems silly and wasteful not to…

    • 17.1
      Marisa says:

      Julia, you only want to reuse the brine for refrigerator pickles because the concentration of acid becomes reduced and so may not be safe to be used for processed pickled. If you’re processing the pickles for shelf stability, you want to use fresh brine.

    • 17.2
      Astrid says:

      I think the confusion is a terminology one. Fridge pickles is an umbrella term for fridge-pickled-things as far as I am aware. So you should be good to reuse it for fridge-pickled-stuff, just not for canning-preserving.

  18. 18

    Great New! I just finished some Bubbie’s Kosher Pickles and will reuse the brine to make more pickles. Thank you.

  19. 19
    Jennifer says:

    I’m making canned apple rings using cucumber slices. They are to soak in a water/pickling lime mixture for 24 hours. Then drained. Can that soak be used for another batch? It is just a soak; not chilled or heated.

  20. 20
    bob wall says:

    I made lime pickles and had left over brine. Can I remake another batch of pickles in 4 days. I put the brine in the ice box.

  21. 21
    Betty Smith says:

    Can you use used pickle brine for pickled eggs? And would you have to reheat brine?

  22. 22
    Rosita Chua says:

    I want to reuse the leftover brine of the gherkins I bought. I want to pickle the French Beans I have and would like to know whether I need to scald the beans first before putting them into the brine.

    • 22.1
      Marisa says:

      If you want them to soften nicely to pick the brine, you will need to blanch the beans before putting them into the brine.

  23. 23
    Agua Caliente says:

    Just made my first batch of pickles…success! They will not last long an I was wondering if the brine could be re-used. This was refrigerator brine, but I did have to heat the brine mix to start. Still OK to re-use?

    • 23.1
      Marisa says:

      You can easily reuse the brine once, but more than that and it won’t have much flavor left. And always add an extra splash of vinegar to the brine when you’re reusing it to strengthen the flavor.

  24. 24
    Emilie says:

    After finishing jars of storebought pickles and tomatoes, I thought I’d reuse the juice by refilling the jars with carrot pieces and vinegar. I let the first batch sit 2 weeks, and they were great. The second batch sat for 1 week because I got impatient, and they weren’t nearly pickly enough! But admittedly with my third batch I’ve waited almost 2 months and am now nervous. The juice started bubbling ages ago and the juice is a bit murky. I opened the jars and they smell very fermented. Could they still be safe? I’m leaning toward throwing them out, but I’d hate to waste a good thing.

    • 24.1
      Marisa says:

      You don’t want your remade pickles to be fermenting. These instructions are only for reusing vinegar-based pickle brine. There should be no fermentation in that process. I would not eat these pickles.

  25. 25
    Susan says:

    I’m in the process of making 14-day sweet pickles. Instead of using alum on day 10, I used lime pickling (1/2 c. mixed in hot water) in a #4 crock of cucumbers starting on day 1. The cucumbers were in the crock for 7 days. I had to individually wash each cucumber slice as I could feel the lime pickling on them. The lime pickling turned the cucumbers a greenish-yellow color. Do you think the lime pickling was on the cucumbers too long (day 1 to day 7) and are they fit to eat?

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