Wait, Don’t Throwaway that Pickle Juice!

What to Do With Leftover Pickle Juice in the Sustainable Kitchen In the time of COVID.

If you didn’t know by now, a type of pickle juice is one of those secret ingredients that gave birth to Gatorade.

Gatorade was created in 1965 by a team of scientists at the University of Florida College of Medicine, including Robert Cade, Dana Shires, Harry James Free, and Alejandro de Quesada. Following a request from Florida Gators football head coach Ray Graves, Gatorade was created to help athletes by acting as a replacement for body fluids lost during physical exertion. The earliest versions of the beverage consisted of a mixture of water, sodium, sugar, potassium, phosphate, and lemon juice. Yes the formula for pickle juice! Just like the recipe Grandma used for canning her summer cucumbers and other vegetables.

University of Florida football player Chip Hinton testing Gatorade in 1965, pictured next to the leader of its team of inventors, Robert Cade.

 Drinking pickle juice after an intense workout can help prevent muscle cramps. It also contains electrolytes (even more than most sports drinks!) that can help you stay hydrated. So, don’t throw away that precious pickle liquid!

So you’ve come to the end of a jar of pickles, and you are left with just the liquid, bereft of the delicious vegetables it once contained. Do not panic. Do not be afraid. Do not despair. And most of all, do not pour down the drain of your kitchen sink. That pickle juice or pickling liquid is not just watery trash.

Growing up, my grandmother and mother wasted nothing…..NOT A THING in their kitchens. They are we call now, sustainable cooks in the kitchen with ZERO WASTE. I remember the old Maxwell Coffee Cans that sat on the stove, being filled with bacon grease that was perfect for frying chicken livers in, or for roasting potatoes. I still keep an old metal coffee pot with the strainer to pour bacon grease in for reuse. They would also save the ends of vegetables and scraps of cabbage leaves and onion skins to make vegetable stock. And any organic material that was left, would go into the compost pile or my grandfather’s worm bed. He kept all kinds of worms in a pit he made out of discarded old bricks. And to say  that these were the best worms you could use to go fishing with. The best natural fish bait ever.

Happy memories……But I digress……  

So what is really in commerically made pickle juice

So what is really in commercially prepared pickle juice?
Always read the labels, because they will tell you everything you need to know as the ingredients are listed in descending order, from greatest amount of what is being used to the least amounts used in the product. Did you notice it is very similar to the original recipe for Gatorade?

Photo Credit: One Good Thing, 2018.

If you play it right, it can add some pickle flavor to all kinds of delicious things. Pickle juice is a precious commodity, and you should use it. How?

Marinate Chicken In It
You know how Chick-fil-A chicken is always impossibly tender and delicious? Well, I am going to let you in a little secret. Part of that is because it’s marinated in pickle juice. Use the same trick to make copycat Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches,or nuggets or tenders, whatever makes you happy, at home.


Meat Tenderizer
Salty, tangy pickle juice makes a great marinade for meat. You can also use it to tenderize tougher cuts! For a marinade that’s perfect for pork or steak, whisk together some pickle juice, minced garlic, pepper, and mustard. Brush the mixture on the pork or steak, then let it marinate for an hour or up to overnight. Grill or roast the meat for a tender and flavorful meal.

Photo Credit: One Good Thing, 2018.


Put It In a Cocktail
A pickleback—a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice—is one of those things you don’t think will work until it does. But what about a pickle martini? Use the juice like you would the brine from a jar of olives to make a pickle-y dirty martini, why not. It’s also an excellent addition to your next Bloody Mary.





Add It to Pimento Cheese
Ahhh, Pimento Cheese on a buttery Ritz cracker for most Southerners is like having a smidgen of caviar on a blintz. The next time you’re making a batch of beer cheese or pimento cheese try pouring a little bit of pickle juice in there for flavor and a little body. It’s delicious.

Photo Credit: Williams Sonoma, n.d.





Use It Instead of Vinegar
We are in the middle of the COVID Pandemic and you need vinegar but don’t have any around? Try using pickle juice. You could even use it as part of a vinaigrette to add some sour notes to a salad, or cut through the fat of something particularly rich, like a soup.



Add it to Mayonnaise for a Sandwich Spread
Do you like pickles on your sandwich already? Good news: You can combine mayonnaise and pickle juice for a pickle-y spread for all that flavor in one.



Make More Pickled Food
Toss a handful of baby carrots or shredded carrots in the jar and let it sit in your fridge for a few days. The pickled carrots make for a delicious tangy snack.

Another option delicious option would be using thinly sliced red onions or red radishes, plus a few sprigs of cilantro for an extra pop of flavor. These quick pickled onions vegetables would be perfect as a topping for salads, sandwiches, or tacos!

You can also put a few peeled hard-boiled eggs in pickle juice to make pickled eggs! Again, just leave them in the fridge for a few days to let the pickle juice work its magic.

Photo Credit: One Good Thing, 2018.

Eby, Margaret. (2019). What to Do with Leftover Pickle Juice. Food and Wine Magazine. Accessed May 20, 2020.

History“. 2012. Gatorade. Accessed May 20, 2020.

Kays, Joe (2003). “Gatorade – The Idea that Launched an Industry”. University of Florida Research. Accessed May 24, 2020.

Nystul, Jill (2018). 7 Unexpected Things You Can Do With Pickle Juice. One Good Thing. Accessed May 24, 2020.


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