by Leif Starbuck
Eat a lot of store-bought pickles? Read on to find out how, by reusing the pickle brine, you can "clone" your favorite brand of pickles at the cost of around 75 cents a jar.
This recipe makes one jar of pickles. You'll need:
1 ''used" jar of pickles with brine reserved
1 Tbsp white distilled vinegar
1 Tbsp table or kosher salt
2 cloves garlic (optional)
Step 1: Reserve Your Pickle Juice.
My favorite brand of store-bought pickles is Claussen. The juice is almost good enough to drink -- an option I gave into on a couple occasions when pouring it down the drain just didn't seem right. So, for this tutorial, reserve as much as possible, as there's a lot of flavor still in there after the pickles are gone.
Step 2: Add Salt, Distilled Vinegar, and Optional Herbs/spices.
To the existing pickle brine I added one tablespoon each of salt and distilled vinegar -- ingredients that are part of the original brine but had no doubt been absorbed (and eaten) in the factory pickles themselves.
I also added some fresh chopped garlic, which is optional. You could also try adding chili peppers, onions, fresh dill, mustard seed, or maybe even brown sugar. But when cloning, don't splice too many genomes, you could end up with a monster that wheezes "kill me" every thirty seconds.
When that's done, seal the jar and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Make sure all the salt has dissolved into the brine, instead of sitting uselessly at the bottom.
Step 3: Add Cucumber.
One cucumber cost me all of 59 cents, and one was all it took for a regular-sized jar. Start by washing the cucumber. Slice it into coins, or try your hand at making spears. I prefer to slice at about a quarter-inch cut, so that the pickles take less time to brine and sit easily on sandwiches.
Step 4: Refrigerate for a Week or More.
Put the jar in a drawer in your fridge and try to forget about them. The pickle are quite enjoyable after a week, and seem to get even more tender after two. And I'll be a monkey's uncle if they don't taste just like the Claussen pickles that sometimes cost over four dollars at the supermarket.
"Cloning" this jar of pickles cost me less than a dollar. Salt and vinegar are some of the cheapest things at the store. Adding fresh ingredients make this a creative -- if not diabolical -- experiment.
How many times can you repeat this? I haven't gotten that far yet, but I imagine the flavors start forgetting their roots about the third or fourth batch.
Please experiment with your favorite brand of pickles and share your results. Enjoy!