Wednesday 13 March 2013

Pickle Juice Vinaigrette

It has always bugged me that when you've eaten all the pickles in the jar, you're left with a great quantity of "pickle juice."  That leftover brine is chock full of flavour and often has lots of yummy herbs and spices floating around in it.  What a waste to pour something so tasty down the drain!

I use my pickle juice for all sorts of things:  It makes a great base for a marinade. It can be incorporated into sauces.  I use it to make pickled eggs.  It often finds its way into my salad dressings.

A basic vinaigrette is infinitely variable.  Once you learn the proportions, you can change the flavour profile drastically by varying the ingredients.  Using pickle juice instead of regular vinegar is a quick and easy way to change things up.

At any given time, we have several different kinds of pickles in our fridge.  Each one has a distinct set of flavours all its own. Lots of variety there for the taking and, even when we haven't used up the whole jar of pickles, there's usually enough extra brine in the jar to make a batch of salad dressing.  It's a simple way to change things up.

Next time you find yourself wanting something new on the plate, you might want to look to that jar of pickles at the back of the fridge too.  Who knows what salad greatness you might find there!

To make Pickle Juice Vinaigrette, you'll need:

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons of pickle brine (I used the brine from my tomato, jalapeno, and lime pickles this time)
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used olive oil.  You can use whatever oil you think will work well with the flavours in your dressing.)

Salt will not dissolve in oil, so you'll need to begin by mixing the seasonings into the pickle juice. I do this by putting them all in a sealer jar and giving them a vigourous shake.

When the salt has dissolved, add the oil into the jar, reseal it and shake it again until the ingredients are well combined and the vinegar emulsified.  

Taste the dressing at this point and adjust the seasonings.  You may find that you want to add in a little honey or some fresh herbs.  This would be the time to do that.

If you're not going to use it right away, your pickle juice vinaigrette can be stored in the fridge for a few days.  The oil and vinegar in the dressing will probably separate after a while.  If they do, simply give the vinaigrette another good shake before serving it.