How to Safely Reuse Brine [Storage, Uses, & Expiration Signs]

Brine is a saltwater and vinegar solution used to pickle vegetables and keep meat and poultry moist and flavorful.

Needless to say, a fresh batch is very useful in almost all culinary areas. It can be hard to toss it out after a single-use. But should you?

Vegetable brine can be reused, but not for canning purposes. Vegetable brines can be reused up to three times for “refrigerated pickling.” Salt and vinegar may need to be added with each use. Brines used with meat, poultry, or seafood should never be reused.

If you’re looking for ways to cut down on food waste, you might consider reusing brine.

But there is a safe way and a not-so-safe way to go about it.

Knowing how to reuse your famous brine safely can help you get the most out of your ingredients and shorten your grocery bill.

Can You Reuse Brine?

The most straightforward answer to this question is yes and no, which makes things all the more complicated.

Not all brines can be reused. And the ones that can shouldn’t be used to “can” again. Here is the breakdown.

Can You Reuse Brine for Chicken, Poultry, Meat, and Seafood?

The brine used for chicken, or other kinds of poultry, meat, and seafood, should never be reused – even if you’re brining the same type of product.

The issue is that food-borne bacterias live on the exterior of poultry, meat, and seafood.

When placed inside a brine, the solution soaks up the bacteria. Essentially, your product is floating in a bacteria-ridden brine.

Not only that, but the ingredient soaking in the brine will absorb the majority of the salt and acidity.

If you try to add a fresh piece of chicken, meat, pork, or seafood, you won’t get the same great flavor and moistness.

You may also open the door for heightened bacterial growth, which could be dangerous

To have the safest and most effective brine for your chicken, poultry, meat, and seafood, create a fresh batch of brine solution every time.

Can You Reuse Brine From Pickled Eggs?

You can safely reuse brine from pickled eggs.

Pickled Eggs

Can You Reuse Brine for Pickling?

Although it is not safe to reuse brine for meat, poultry, and seafood, you can safely reuse brine for pickling vegetables.

However, there is a right and wrong way to go about it. 

Don’t: Never reuse your vegetable pickling brine for canning. Used canning brine will no longer have the required amount of acidity and salt to keep your vegetables safe in the pantry. 

Do: Reuse vegetable pickling brine for “refrigerator pickling,” otherwise known as quick pickling.

Quick pickled veggies are kept in the fridge, so you don’t have to be overly concerned with the acid and salt levels preventing bacterial growth.

How to Reuse Brine for Pickling

As mentioned previously, brine for pickling can be reused. Here’s how to do it safely:

Leave the Vegetables Raw or Lightly Blanched

When reusing pickling brine, you can leave the vegetables raw or lightly blanched. Which way is best? Well, that depends on the kind of vegetables you’re pickling. 

  • Softer vegetables with high water content, such as cucumbers, should be left raw. Add a few sprinkles of salt for the best results.
  • Harder vegetables, like cauliflower, carrots, and onions can be sliced thin and left raw or lightly blanched. Make sure to drop them into cold water after cooking to stop the cooking process.

Place Inside of the Brine Solution

Add the vegetables to the brine solution inside of an airtight container. To do this, you have three options:

Leave as-is

Since this brine is placed in the fridge, you don’t need to worry about the salt or acid content.

Simply place the vegetables in the brine solution and stick it into the refrigerator.

Add More Salt and Vinegar to the Brine

Since this is reused brine, it will have a lower salt and acid content. You can add a pinch of salt and a drop of vinegar to enhance the solution, but it’s not necessary.

Boil the Brine Before Storing

It is believed that hot brine is more readily absorbed by vegetables, ideal for reused brine. You can boil before storing, but again, it is not essential to reuse the brine.

Store For Up to Two Weeks in the Fridge

Reused brine does not last as long as the initial brine used for canning. The good news is that pickled vegetables should be ready to consume in as little as an hour after it’s placed in the brine.

However, three days tend to be the “sweet spot” for flavor. Consume within two weeks of storing.

How Many Times Can You Reuse a Brine?

For the best results, you should only reuse brine once

However, you can safely reuse a brine up to three times. At this point, the acid and salt levels will be pretty low, so you shouldn’t expect similar results to the initial or second brine solution.

How Long Will Brine Keep in the Fridge?

If the brine is simply salt water brine with nothing added, it will indefinitely last in the refrigerator.

However, once you add ingredients to the brine – such as seasonings, vegetables, or meat – the brine will only last up to two weeks.

Can You Add Something Extra to the Brine to Make it Last Longer?

Many people have heard of the “15-year-old brine” that’s been sweeping social media sites, but this isn’t a new trend.

It’s known as Sichuan Pickles and is a Chinese fermented vegetable practice. 

To make this long-lasting brine, you will need to add alcohol with 50% or more ABV (such as Erguotou) instead of traditional vinegar. 

You can reuse Sichuan pickling brine. To do so, simply remove the fermented vegetables with a clean spoon. Consume immediately or place in a jar with fresh brine and stash it in the fridge for up to a week. 

Add new vegetables to the room temperature Sichuan pickling brine, then top it off with more brine ingredients (water, alcohol, and salt).

Allow the vegetables to brine as long as desired before starting the process again with fresh vegetables.

How to Know When Brine Has Gone Bad

The most significant indicator that your brine has gone bad and should not be reused is a hazy and cloudy appearance.

cucumber in brine

However, spoiled brine can also grow mold, acquire an unpleasant pungent smell, or have a sour flavor that leads to gross and slimy veggies.

Cloudy and Murky Appearance

The easiest way to determine if your brine is safe for another use is to check the consistency.

If you notice any cloudiness or murkiness, it’s gone bad and should not be reused. Empty it down the drain and start with fresh brine.


Many things can cause your brine to mold: too much oxygen inside the container, too much bacteria, or getting too hot for an extended period.

Regardless, if you notice any fuzziness or discoloration that’s green or black, it’s time to get rid of it – mold can make you sick.

Unpleasant Odor

Some people may not like the smell of brine due to the acidity, but it isn’t too overwhelmingly unpleasant.

If you open the container and find that the scent is gag-worthy, the brine has gone bad. 

Slimy Vegetables

A clear sign that your brine is no good is if your vegetables end up slimy. They may also change color.

However, this isn’t always a reliable sign, as green vegetables can turn pale or brown during fermentation. It’s better to check the veggies for slime.

Bad Taste

Last but not least, check the flavor of the veggies. While fermented vegetables are an acquired taste for most individuals, it’s not so unpleasant that it tastes rotten.

If it tastes spoiled, it likely is. Throw out the vegetables and the brine and start fresh.

Other Ways to Use Leftover Brine

As long as the brine is used solely for vegetables, you can use it for other purposes.

So, don’t think you have to reuse your salt brine water to brine vegetables a second or third time. Consider one of these great options for using leftover brine.

Add to Potato, Tuna, Chicken, or Macaroni Salad

Not only will these “salads” benefit from an enhanced overall flavor, but they will get a hefty dose of moisture that is highly enjoyable.

Create a Sauce or Dressing

If you’re a fan of vinegary dressings on top of your green salads or sales, consider transforming the leftover brine into a delicious sauce or dressing.

Boil Potatoes in it

Why stick with boring water? Boiling potatoes in leftover brine will ensure it has a glorious acidity and delightful flavor.

Use a Marinade for Soft White Cheese

If you’re looking for a serious punch of flavor, consider marinating a soft white cheese inside the brine.

Drink it

The combination of salt and vinegar inside a brine means it’s jam-packed with essential nutrients.

Drink it after a strenuous workout or after a rough (but fun) night of drinking to get back to feeling splendid.

Get Rid of Weeds

Who said you had to consume it? Drench your pesky weeds in leftover brine, and they’ll scurry in a hurry.

Clean Copper Pans

You can also use brine for cleaning copper pans. So simple!

Final Words

You can reuse vegetable pickling brine for “refrigerated pickling” but not canning purposes.

You should never reuse brine used with turkey, pork, meat, or seafood, as these food items carry dangerous bacterias that will render the brine unsafe for a second-round – even if you’re using the same type of meat.

Reused brine can be used up to three times and last up to two weeks in the fridge.

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