Reusing pickle juice for eggs is probably the question I receive most often, so this post is long overdue.
As a general guide, pickle juice for eggs can be reused. While pickling juice from eggs can be reused, it is not recommended. Reused pickle brine lose their acidity levels every time they are re-used.
In fact, eggs can be pickled in their shell without changing process or ingredients for a 3rd, 4th and even a 5th time. However, this is not recommended as the acidity levels in each brine bath becomes progressively weaker with each reuse. There is no exact science when it comes to how many times pickle brine can be reused.
There’s a difference between “recycle” and “reuse”. Reusing is when things or materials are used again for the same or similar purpose while recycling is reusing to produce a different product which have more value than the original product. In other words, recycling means turning old products into new.
If you reuse pickle brine, you are recycling the same brine. This is not good because it dilutes flavor and can become unsafe.
So, if you want to pickle eggs in their shell then put them in fresh water every time after removing to clean off any excess salt or spice mix on the shells or repeat until satisfied.
First of all, I want to make it clear that I am not advocating recycling or reusing pickle juice in an attempt to obtain a certain pH (I’ll leave that one for the chemists out there).
For cooking purposes, you can reuse pickle juice for eggs as many times as you want to. However, I do not recommend it because of the fear that some chemical or compound might have leached into the brine over time.
We’ve all heard of scientists finding BPA in just about everything nowadays. Although anything is possible, I doubt that you will find BPA in pickle juice. Pickle brine is mainly vinegar, water and salt. Milk products are usually not used to make pickles.
Pickling does involve nitrates which can be broken down into sodium nitrate by the bacteria living on the pickled product – whether it’s cucumbers, peppers or whatever. But even this is safe within limits.
To reduce the risk of botulism, I recommend using fresh brine every time you pickle something in the shell. A 3rd use might be okay if followed up with a 4th and 5th use of fresh brine but that’s about it.
There is a certain acid level in which you can pickle your eggs safely without compromising the flavor of your pickled product.
However, it’s important to understand that when you start recycling pickle juice not only do you increase the risk of botulism poisoning for yourself and others, but also the acidity drops significantly every time you reuse the pickle juice.
The acid level in homemade pickle juice is typically 5% vinegar by volume, and water makes up the balance of the solution. If you wash your eggs before pickling them, this reduces the amount of acid present even further; if you make a really big batch of brine at one time (and it’s not practical to use it all in a timely manner), the same applies.
When you begin recycling pickle juice, your acidity level is probably less than 3%. Once you continue to reuse pickle juice for eggs, the amount of acid continues to drop until it’s no longer safe to use on eggs or anything else. For this reason, there’s a very short window of time over which you can reuse pickle juice without the risk of unsafe levels of acid or botulism poisoning.
If you truly want to use up leftover pickle juice from eggs, it is recommended that you first dilute the juice with an equal amount of water and vinegar. In other words, mix 1 part pickle juice to 1 part water and 1 part vinegar for recycling for eggs. This reduces the acidity (and therefore the risk of botulism poisoning) without significantly altering the flavor.
If you plan to reuse pickle juice, it’s not a good idea to save leftover brine from potatoes or other vegetables; be sure to make a fresh solution and use it up quickly. Another alternative is to pour the leftover pickle juice into ice trays and freeze it. Once frozen, transfer the cubes of pickle juice to a Ziploc bag for storage in the freezer.
Pickling Eggs And Making Egg Pickle Brine From Scratch
When I plan to pickle eggs, making a fresh batch of pickle brine is always a bigger part of the plan. I’ll use my very simple “tried and true” 5% vinegar brine method , which is sometimes just labeled as pickled eggs in our recipe index.
As you can see, when I make pickle juice for eggs from scratch, it always requires vinegar, salt and water. You do not need sugar or any other ingredients to successfully pickle eggs at home, but you certainly may add some ingredients if you prefer.
Recipes For Homemade Pickled Eggs – Refrigerator Or Fermented
When it comes to fermented pickled eggs (also known as old-fashioned pickled eggs), the brine is naturally fermented, meaning it’s already an acid. Once you allow your refrigerated leftover egg pickle brine to ferment for 4 to 6 weeks at room temperature, the lactobacillus in the mixture breaks down into lactic acid (which is kind of like vinegar).
When fermenting pickle juice for eggs, the flavor changes somewhat because the bacteria eat away at the sugars in the solution. The typical aroma of vinegar is less pronounced in fermented pickled eggs, and they also have a much more mellow taste.
Recipes For Quick Pickled Eggs With Refrigerator Storage
For quick refrigerator-stored pickled eggs, you need to use a fresh solution of vinegar and salt. I do not suggest refrigerating leftover egg pickle brine from fermented eggs because the lactobacillus may cause other rather unpleasant odors and flavors to develop.
If you decide to buy commercially-canned pickled eggs instead of making your own from scratch, watch out for any additional ingredients the eggs may have been treated with after being canned. I try to buy pickled eggs that are just “pickled” in vinegar, salt, spices and perhaps a bit of sugar.
How To Pickle Eggs Without A Recipe – A FEW RULES
When it comes to recycled pickling brine, the acidity (sometimes called the pH level) should be very close to 3.0; if it’s not, you can adjust it with a bit more vinegar or a diluted form of lemon juice .
If you want to add other spices and flavorings, do so in either the brine solution or when you add them to each jar . If you’re adding all your ingredients at once and then allowing the jars to sit overnight before moving them to the refrigerator, avoid stirring; it tends to break up pickled eggs.
When I make pickled eggs from already-cooked potatoes (such as scalloped or twice-baked), I like to add a few cloves of peeled garlic for flavor.
When making pickled eggs, I love to use this handy cute little gadget called an EZ-Twisty egg peeler . It’s fast and efficient for peeling hard-boiled eggs without wasting any of the white. Plus it also removes easy-to-peel egg shells from fresh farm eggs.
On the other hand, you need to choose your source of vinegar carefully when it comes to commercial pickle brine.
Vinegar is created via fermentation processes that begin with either an alcoholic base made up of grains or grapes that are then distilled, or by acetic acid bacteria which break down alcohol into acetic acid (vinegar).
Distilled vinegar is often made with just water and acetic acid. However, commercially-available distilled white vinegar can be made from any number of things that are not true “vinegar” at all. For example, it could start with corn, wheat or even soy as its alcoholic base. It may also contain sulfites, chlorine, and other potentially-controversial chemicals.
As you can see, reuse of any pickled egg brine depends on what types of vinegar was used to make pickled eggs and how long you’ve allowed them to sit before eating, which is why I always advise against using plain homemade pickle juice for eggs if they have been sitting in your refrigerator for more than a couple of weeks.
You can use pickled egg brine that has gone bad over time (up to 2 months) as fertilizer or spread it around plants and shrubs, but this is not recommended for vegetable crops . Eggplant and potatoes are two common foods susceptible to contamination by the bacteria on boiled eggs.
If you want to use recycled pickle brine as fertilizer, I suggest diluting it first and only applying it once a month or so around the outdoor plants that you don’t plan on.
On the other hand, you could attempt to make vinegar at home; there are plenty of online tutorials available. However, homemade vinegar may contain many undesirable impurities unless tremendous care is taken during its creation.
If you don’t want to make your own vinegar at home, simply try some of the many different brands available in stores today. In fact, I enjoy adding a variety of vinegars to my salad dressings and marinades for new flavors . You can never have too much vinegar in your pantry!
How To Pickle Eggs Without A Recipe – What Is Brine?
Brine is simply a mixture of salt and water . It’s used as the primary preserving agent for canned vegetables, meats, eggs and other items before canning or freezing them.
However, pickled eggs are also incredibly easy to prepare by using store-bought brine. It’s recommended that you use at least five whole cloves of peeled garlic per quart jar.
If you don’t have any commercial pickle juice on hand, simply follow the instructions below to make your own!
I can’t tell you how many eggs I’ve ruined trying to perfect the pickle juice egg – but alas, I’m about to share my “pickling” secrets with you.
There are a few reasons why pickle juice eggs work so well: The acidity of the pickle juice contributes to how fast an egg cooks, while also helping to shape the white into a perfect circle.
The vinegar in the pickle juice alters the proteins on the outer layers of the egg – allowing them to stick together better and form that recognizable shape. The salt in pickle juice seasons the eggs inside and out.
Of course, pickle juice alone will not make a perfect hard boiled egg – there are some other important factors to take into consideration.
First things first, you need to start with old eggs. Freshly laid eggs do not peel well at all when being hard boiled – the shell practically disintegrates into thin shards that stick to the egg white.
You can find eggs that are between 3 and 10 days old at the grocery store – look for the ones with large air pockets (indicating they may be older) and avoid any eggs that feel really soft, or make a hollow sound when you tap them. Older eggs peel much more easily.
Secondly, you need to pickle your eggs first. A simple pickle brine can be made with salt, vinegar and water. A little bit of sugar is helpful in reducing the harshness of the vinegar, but it’s totally optional.
In general, you’ll want to use around 1/2 cup of non-iodized salt for every quart jar of pickled eggs that you’re making. For the vinegar, I use a white distilled vinegar with 5% acidity – feel free to experiment with other types of vinegar if you’d like.
Finally , make sure you get your eggs in brine within 24 hours of when you plan on eating them. The longer the eggs stay out of the pickle juice, the more likely they are to develop an off-flavor.
It’s critical that you’re not rushing through any of these steps – if you are, you’re setting yourself up for failure no matter how closely you follow the recipe below.
That said, let’s get started!
How To Make Perfect Pickle Juice Eggs (Step By Step)
- 4 eggs (3-10 days old)
- 1 quart pickle juice (5% acidity)
1. The first step in making perfect pickle juice eggs is to find the right eggs to use. You need eggs that are 3-10 days old, so you might have some trouble finding truly “old” eggs at the supermarket. However, there are many sources online that sell eggs by the dozen – for instance, it’s possible to find high quality eggs on Amazon.
2. Make sure you use non-iodized salt in your pickle brine – this is critical because using iodized salt could impart an off-flavor in your eggs (the chemical composition of iodized salt is slightly different than kosher salt).
3. Boil enough water to completely submerge your eggs, then add salt and stir until it has fully dissolved. I use around 1/2 cup of non-iodized salt for every quart jar that I’m making – you may need to adjust this depending on how many eggs you’re attempting to pickle.
4. Once your salt is completely dissolved in the water, add vinegar and stir until it has fully mixed into the brine. I recommend using a white distilled vinegar with 5% acidity – this will give you more consistent results than something like apple cider vinegar (which tends to be cloudy).
5. Now, place your eggs into the brine. If you have a vacuum sealer, go ahead and seal your eggs in a bag before placing them in the brine.
6. Place your sealed jars or bags of pickle brine into the refrigerator – here’s where you need to be careful about timing! You want to leave your eggs in the brine for no more than 24 hours – after that, they will start to develop an off-flavor.
7. When you’re ready to eat your pickle juice eggs, first remove them from the brine and rinse with cold water for several seconds. Next, place them back into a clean container with fresh cold water and let them soak for at least 5 minutes.
8. Finally, peel your eggs under cool running water and enjoy!