To Brine or Not to Brine

Don’t make a big to-do about the turkey; brine it, put it in the oven, and don’t think about it again.

Ruth Reichl

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar”.

Tilly: I’m with Jefferson when it comes to pickles!

Now for those of you who may be wondering what the hell I am talking about, well, sit back, be patient and grab the family bible. No, I am not going to be preachin’ at ya. Although the thought did cross my mind. I will just leave that up to Tilly the Tart. That British accent of hers will keep you listening.

Tilly: Bit concerned that you haven’t mentioned my wise words …

Olive: Wise Words, from you…remind me please.

Tilly: Oh! You know how to wound …

Have y’all noticed lately that everyone’s talking about brining, as if it is something new? For those of you, like me who speak in a more proper way, brining is pickling. Yep, just plain ole pickling, like you used make when your mamma was with ya.  I just love it when the high mucky-mucks change the language to make themselves sound intelligent.

How old is pickling? Pickling might have been around since the Mesopotamians. Yep, around BC 2400, before they could begin the process, they first had to get the cucumbers from India. Therefore, the next time you crunch down on one of those beauties, you can thank India for being so friendly as to share them with those “Meso people”.

Tilly: I have a suspicion sharing wasn’t necessarily voluntary.

Why cucumbers and vinegar hold a special place in the “good book”, this is the Bible to some of y’all. Don’t believe me…Numbers 11:5 and Isaiah 1:8 and as for the vinegar Matthew 27:34 and John 19:29. Look it up.

Tilly: You realize few will do this? Be a honey and include the verses here …or at the end.

Olive: Alright if you insist. See the bible verses at the end. Happy now Tilly?

Did y’all know that pickles were declared both medical aid and beauty aids? Aristotle praised the healing effects of cured cucumbers and Cleopatra stated that her good looks came from a hearty diet of pickles. I’m not believing either one of them statements can be proven today, so I wouldn’t be trying it y’all.

Tilly: Given that we are urged to eat sauerkraut and kimchi for digestive health, Aristotle and Cleopatra were ahead of their time. Healthy gut = healthy skin.

Well, now that you know the history of this biblical product allow me to give you some hints on what you can do with the brine that is left over.

  1. When you are finished with the pickles cover your favorite raw vegetables such as sliced red onion, cauliflower, carrots and celery in pickle juice and store in refrigerator. They are great just for snackin’ or for the tops of salads.
  2. Use as a Marinade for chicken or shrimp: 1-cup juice to ½-cup olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, in a zip-top bag. Add one pound of either chicken or shrimp, roll it in the liquid and marinate for an hour before grilling. You may also use parsley in the marinade.
  3. 3 tablespoons pickle juice to ¾-cup mayonnaise and mix with 3 pounds of cooked potatoes makes a great salad.
  4. If you want a classic macaroni salad, add 3 tablespoons to ½-cup mayonnaise and mix with 2 cups of cooked macaroni.
  5. During football season, make this delicious snack: ¼-cup pickle liquid with one jar of barbecue sauce and one large bag of little sausages in a crock-pot. Heat thoroughly and serve in the crock-pot to keep warm.
  6. Don’t like the flavor of pickle juice?  Here are just two things that juice can be used for: cleaning copper pans and controlling weeds. Just douse the weeds with the pickle juice. Weeds hate all that vinegar and salt. As for the copper pots, pour a little bit of the brine onto a sponge and clean.

Tilly: The pickle juice also makes interesting salad dressings, especially the kimchi juice. Three tablespoons pickle juice with I tablespoon toasted sesame oil and a 1-2 teaspoons Chinese fish sauce make are delicious over chopped tomatoes, radishes, cucumber, mango, spring onions. Scatter toasted peanuts (I prefer cashews) over the salad. Wonderful with a Japanese-type chicken curry.

For a look into the past try this Elizabethan recipe:

  1. To preserve Cowcumbers all the yeere. Take a galon of faire water, & a pottle of veriuice, and a pint of bay salt, and a handfull of green fennell or Dill: boyle it a little, and when it is cold put it into a barrel, and then put your Cowcumbers into that pickle, and you shal keep them all the yeere.

From Sir Hugh Platt’s Delightes of Ladies to adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets, and distillatories with Beauties, banquets,perfumes and waters. Reade, Practise, and Censure 1602.

Tilly: Verjuice?

Olive: Gees, Tilly “Verjuice (/ˈvɜːrˌdʒuːs/ VUR-jooss; from Middle French vertjus ‘green juice’) is a highly acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes, crab-apples or other sour fruit.  Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (1989) Sometimes lemon or sorrel juice, herbs or spices are added to change the flavour. In the Middle Ages, it was widely used all over Western Europe as an ingredient in sauces, as a condiment, or to deglaze preparations. It is still used to some extent in the American South.

Tilly: Jeez, Olive … I know very well what verjuice is – I was querying a possible typo. And it is used a lot in European cuisine, Quite expensive, but delicious. And has health benefits: Verjuice can relieve bowel and stomach disorders. One of the benefits of verjuice is that it is appetizing and also makes food easier to digest. It also prevents constipation. Other properties of verjuice on your digestive system is the treatment of intestinal worms.   21 Dec 2021’ And to remind us all to smile: ‘Having a crabbed face of her own, she’ll eat less Verjuice with her mutton.’ – T Middleton, Women beware Women, 1657

Well, I am done laughing now. I am sure y’all just understood every word right.

Tilly: What’s not to understand? It’s plain English …

Olive: Tilly, and you studied English where and when?

Tilly: English A-Level covered previous ages of English.

See below for the modern version:

A pottle is a Elizabethan unit of measurement. A pottle is a ½ gallon or 2.25l


500ml / 2 cups water (if using tap water boil and set aside to cool before use to remove any chlorine) 250ml / 1 cup verjuice or white wine vinegar 2 1/2 tbsp sea salt 500ml baby cucumbers (gherkins) a few sprigs of dill or fennel fronds To Preserve Cucumbers Preparation: Method: Combine the water, verjuice (to acidulate the brine) and salt in pan. Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Wash and pat the baby cucumbers dry. Pack onto a large jar with the dill or fennel. Pour the hot (but not boiling) brine over them and seal securely with a vinegar-proof lid. Allow to cool, label and set aside for at least two weeks to mature before opening. Once opened, store in the refrigerator.


Olive and Tilly

For a copy of the recipes see below


Bible Verses:

Numbers 11:5

We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.

Isaiah 1:8

Daughter Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard,

like a hut in a cucumber field, like a city under siege.

Matthew 27:34,

They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

John 19:29,

Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.


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  • Cristie

    In my opinion there ate few things better than a crisp dill pickle, yum, yum, yummy!!! I will however attempt using leftover pickle juice to keep the weeds at bay in the spring.

    • Olive

      Or you can get some jalapenos to slice up and put them in the pickle jar along with some baby carrots and bits of cauliflower, wait about 2 weeks and you will love them.

  • Jerry Bell

    And here, all these years, I did not know that brining was, in all simplicity, pickling. I’ve been pickling my turkey for years. Nor did I realize just how helpful pickle juice was. You can bet I’ll be experimenting with the juice no end now. There’s no doubt that I will find myself in quite a pickle in the future.
    Thanks for the knowledge and the read. I love you ladies.

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