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Can You Reuse Pickled Onion Brine? How, When, & When NOT to!

You might feel the pickle blues when you finish an expertly made and extra delicious jar of pickles. Now you are just sitting with the vinegar that is leftover from those marvelous pickles, and a thought pops into your head. Can you reuse pickled onion brine? Maybe you can relive that pickled onion bliss.

Pickled onion brine can be used more than once as long as you are following the proper procedure to reuse it in the safest way possible. Aside from making pickled onions, you can also reuse your pickled onion brine on so many other dishes and drinks to add or improve their flavor.

Here, learn how you can reuse your pickled onion brine safely so that you do not have to miss out on reliving the perfect pickle.

What other foods can be pickled? For a full guided list on what CAN and CAN'T be pickled, check out my article here.

How To Safely Reuse Pickled Onion Brine

You'll be happy to hear that you can most definitely reuse your pickled onion brine. As long as the pickled onion brine is salty, sour, and sweet enough, there shouldn't be any issues with reusing the pickle brine. 

Although, here are some safety factors that you need to know before reusing your pickled onion brine. If you want to reuse the pickled onion brine to make more pickled onions, then the best and safest way to do this is as follows:

  1. Blanche the onions in water.
  2. Then remove the herbs and spices from the brine.
  3. Then boil the pickled onion brine. 
  4. Let the pickle brine cool down.
  5. Add some more salt, vinegar, and water.
  6. Pour the brine over the onions.

The reason to blanch the onions first is to kill off any bacteria or microbes that are on the onions that could spoil the pickle brine and the onions. 

Some people do not blanch the onions first, but blanching is the safest way to start your pickling process and make sure nothing goes wrong.

Boiling the pickled onion brine will do the same thing for the brine as blanching the onions. During boiling, the pickled onion brine may lose some acidity and salt, so you will need to add extra to ensure your brine can pickle your onions properly.

Pickled red onions in an open jar.

You need to ensure that the glass jar you will use to keep your pickled onions in is clean and disinfected. This will make sure the jar itself has no bacteria in it.

This way, you will make sure that no harmful bacteria or microbes will be introduced to your pickle brine or onions, causing the pickles to grow unwanted mold. 

If bacteria is introduced to your pickle brine, then you will need to throw the pickles away and start from scratch again.

How Many Times Can You Reuse Pickled Onion Brine?

Although you can reuse pickled onion brine, is there a limit as to how many times you can reuse the same pickle brine?

The answer is yes, there is a limit. With every new batch of pickled onions you make, you are diluting the salt and acidity level of the pickled onion brine. 

Even though you do add more salt and acidity when you prepare the brine for the new onions, there is only so much you can add before the flavor starts to be overwhelmed by the new vinegar and salt. 

It is usually safe to reuse pickled onion brine twice, maybe three times, if you prepare the pickle brine correctly. However, the third time may also depend on the moisture in the onions you are pickling, as red onions have more than yellow onions. 

NOTE: The more times you reuse pickled onion brine, the riskier it gets in terms of bacteria growth and contamination.

Other Ways To Reuse Pickled Onion Brine

If you are not wanting to make more pickles using the pickled onion brine, but you do not want to waste the pickle brine, then there are a number of other ways to use it.

You can use pickled onion brine to season other foods. For example, you can pour some pickle brine over warm potatoes to add an extra kick to your potato salad. You can do the same for pasta salads too.

Other Purposes For Your Pickled Onion Brine

There are so many uses for pickled onion brine that it would be such a waste to not reuse such a versatile ingredient and just throw it away. Here are some creative ideas for how to use it:

  • Use the pickled onion brine in place of vinegar in salad dressings (like where you would use an red wine vinegar or a balsamic vinegar)
  • Use the pickle brine to add some extra zing to your tartar sauce for your seafood 
  • You can marinate goat cheese or any other soft cheeses in your pickled onion brine
  • Combine pickled onion brine with mayo or yogurt and fresh herbs to make a dip (super easy recipe!)
  • Uses the pickle brine as a marinade for meats such as chicken or pork- such a good thing to try
  • You can use pickle brine to poach or steam seafood
  • You can also add a small tablespoon or two of the pickle brine to mac and cheese
  • You can add the pickle brine to certain soups like Borcht soup
  • You can add pickle brine to burger meat or meatloaf to add extra flavor. - The best thing to make on here!
  • Add some pickle brine to a Bloody Mary or make ice cubes out of the brine for your cocktail
  • You can try making a picklini, which is a martini with added pickle brine.

Next time you're sautéing vegetables, stir-frying noodles, or making a stir-fry, consider adding a splash of pickled onion brine. The acidity and unique flavor profile can serve as a secret ingredient, elevating the taste of your dishes to new heights. Be mindful of the salt content in the brine, adjusting the amount accordingly to maintain the desired balance.

After you've enjoyed with onions and quick pickles, save the brine in an airtight container or other sealed container to use in any of these recipes. 

2 bloody Mary cocktails on a wood platform.
Make pickled onion brine ice cubes and add them to a Bloody Mary cocktail

Related: Check out my article here for 20 ways to Use up Leftover Pickle Juice!

When Not To Reuse Pickled Onion Brine

There are a few scenarios when you should not reuse your pickled onion brine. 

If you intend to can some pickled onions, then do not reuse pickled onion brine. This is because to safely can pickled onions, the pickle brine needs to have a certain vinegar and salt concentration to ensure that the pickled onions can last and do not grow any bacteria.

You cannot reuse pickled onion brine for canning as there will not be enough vinegar and salt in the brine as the old pickles would have soaked it up, and the brine is now quite diluted.

If you can your pickled onions with used pickle brine, then you will most likely have to throw that batch away due to bacteria growth.

How To Check If a Pickle Brine Can Be Reused

Another reason to avoid reusing your pickled onion brine is if the pickle brine is off. So, before you reuse the pickle brine, there are a few things to consider to make sure the pickle brine is still safe to consume. 

  1. First, you need to look at the jar of pickled onion brine. Do you see any mold anywhere? On the sides of the jar? On the lid? Or floating in the pickled brine itself? 
  2. Also, look at the color of the pickle brine. Is the pickled brine milky, cloudy, clear, or a mixture?
  3. If you do see mold on/in any of these locations and your pickled brine is a milky or cloudy color, then you should throw the pickle brine away as it is not safe to consume.
  4. If you do not spot any mold, then the next thing you need to do is remove the herbs and spices from the pickled brine by pouring the brine through a fine mesh strainer like this one from Amazon.
  5. Now for the fun part, taste the brine.
  6. If the pickle brine tastes good, then it is probably still fine to use. The tasting is the best way to determine if it is usable and will also help you decide if you need to adjust the vinegar and salt in the pickled onion brine. 
An open jar of pickled onions.

Conclusion

You can reuse pickled onion brine, but you need to first make sure the pickle brine is still safe to consume, and the pickle brine can only be reused for pickling outside of a can. 

There are multiple other ways you can reuse pickled onion brine that can help to spice up your cooking if you are looking for a change. 

Do not throw away your pickle brine (unless it's off), as it has many different uses and is a valuable ingredient to have in your home.

 If you're looking for a great way to lower your food waste and to make sure to use leftover brine without having to make more of your own pickles, then these ideas are perfect for you!

Enjoy your sliced onions and feel free to share your favorite way to enjoy your reused brine with us in the comments below. 

You might also be interested in:

Keep checking back to read more on our easy pickled onion recipe using your favorite quick pickle method and your favorite vinegar mixture like apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, rice vinegar, and a few other basic ingredients to enjoy some homemade pickled onion made from simple ingredients. See how making your own favorite condiments can help your health and be a creative way and very easy way to save you some money and eliminated a trip to the grocery store.   

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