If you have brine from previous pickling efforts and are wondering whether or not you can add cucumbers (in whole or slices) into it, then the answer is yes you can.
But one question must be asked which concerns the goal you intend to achieve by adding the cucumbers into the pickle juice.
If by doing so you want to reuse the brine to pickle the cucumbers, then too bad your efforts wont pay off that much. A much better intention to settle for is marination, which would work perfectly well with the cucumber.
In the rest of the article, we’ll discover how you can add cucumbers to a leftover pickle juice in order to marinate it, as well as how to make cucumber pickle from scratch using the fermentation and non-fermentation methods.
Can you put cucumber in leftover pickle juice?
It is not advised to put cucumber in leftover pickle juice in order to pickle them because the strength of the juice must have already deteriorated from the dilution that occurs when water and sugar are pulled out from the cucumber into the brine during the first fermentation. So the pickles wont be fermented, and definitely wont store for long either.
If using the vinegar method, then the strength of the vinegar must have deteriorated from the previous fermentation too so you wont be getting enough of the vinegar flavor too.
Using a juice with low salt content or low potency can mean that harmful bacteria would be able to thrive and compete with beneficial bacteria and in that course triumph and cause faster spoilage of the pickle or cause them to become harmful when ingested.
A fresh brine or juice solution is always best for pickling cucumber or any other vegetable or fruit.
The salt concentration in a fresh brine is perfect for killing harmful microbes while allowing the beneficial microbes to thrive and ferment the sugars in the cucumber.
While you cannot reuse pickle juice to pickle fresh veggies, you can definitely use it to add some flavors to your vegetables provided it was stored properly after opening, meaning that it was kept in the refrigerator immediately after opening so that no harmful microbial growth is present.
Here’s how to reuse the left over brine
First, prepare the cucumbers by washing them and slicing. Then, salt the cucumber slices (1 1/2 teaspoons per 2 cups of cucumber slices), then let them sit for one hour then put them into a fresh clean jar. Bring the leftover pickle juice to a boil and add it to the jar making sure to leave a 1/2 inch space. Marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours before consuming.
The pickles would last a maximum of one week.
Can you pickle cucumbers?
Cucumbers can be added to pickle juice to make a delicious pickle. The cucumbers can be added whole or sliced and they would need about 4-6 weeks to become fully and perfectly pickled.
For cucumbers, only a brine solution would even suffice to turn them into pickles.
When submerged, the salt would keep the beneficial bacteria that naturally inhabit the surface of the cucumbers safe while simultaneously suffocating the harmful ones.
This gives the good bacteria (Lactobacilli) room to breed and multiply so they are able to ferment the sugars in the cucumber to produce lactic acid which helps with preservation as well as development of complicated flavor profile.
The lactic acid helps with preservation by boosting the acidity of the medium which ensures that “more illness or spoilage causing bacteria suffocate and die” while the beneficial ones survive.
While trying to create a pickle out of a cucumber using the fermentation method only, it is very important to exclude air as much as possible from the process otherwise harmful bacteria wont suffocate and will instead breed and multiply to cause spoilage or illness.
In order to ensure an oxygen free environment, the lids must be sealed though not tightly during fermentation.
How to pickle cucumber
Having discussed how cucumbers turn into pickles, let us now see the process of actually turning cucumbers into pickles using the fermentation method first, then the non-fermentation method later.
For the fermentation method, you will need the following ingredients:
- Cooled, boiled water
- Small cucumbers (about 5-6 in the 4-6 inches range)
- 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
- 1 quarts jar
- A clean cloth
- Rubber band
Wash the cucumbers thoroughly to eliminate any dirt on them. Make sure you’re starting out with really fresh cucumbers and not ones that are bruised, aged or infected.
Create a brine solution by adding the salt into the water and stirring continually until the salt is completely dissolved.
For the type of salt to use, make sure to employ pure salt that is free from:
- Anti-caking chemicals which will turn the brine cloudy
- Lime which will make the brine less acidic therefore allowing harmful bacteria to thrive which would negatively affect the shelf life of the pickle
- Iron impurities which would cause vegetables to turn dark
- Magnesium which will cause the pickle and brine to adopt a bitter taste
- Carbonates which will prevent pickles from achieving a crisp nature.
This is the reason why kosher salt is preferred because it is a pure salt and wont cause ay problems during fermentation.
Next, clean the fermentation jar, add the cucumbers starting from the largest all the way to the smallest, making sure to give them a tight fit to prevent the cucumbers from floating in the brine as they loosen up during fermentation, and also from developing mold.
Now add the brine solution to the jar until the cucumber is covered, you should make sure to leave at least 1/4 inch head space. You can use a fermentation weight to hold down the cucumbers in the brine.
Cover with the cloth and hold using a rubber band at the rim. Allow container to store for 4-6 weeks before you consume. Store in the refrigerator and make sure to consume within a week.
Fermentation would typically start within 1 week and continue all the way to week 4, and how fast the fermentation happens would depend on pH level of the solution, the strength of the brine, and the storage temperature which optimally should be at 70 degrees F.
Fermentation is seen as the rise of bubble gas in the glass jar and when that no longer happens, the fermentation no longer takes place.
As for extra additions for flavor and taste, you can choose to add mustard seed, garlic and fresh dill heads.
Non-fermentation method for pickling cucumbers
The fermentation method employs the use of salt and water a.k.a brine solution which ferments sugars to produce lactic acid that does most of the job. In the non-fermentation method, an acid is supplied in the starter solution in the form of vinegar which does the preservation and addition of flavor.
To prepare pickles using this method here are the ingredients and procedures:
- 3 cups of water
- 2 cups of white vinegar
- 1/4 cup of pickling salt
- 1 quarts jar with seal and ring
- Small cucumbers (about 5-6 in the 4-6 inches range)
- First clean the cucumbers as instructed in the “fermentation method”.
- Stuff them into sterilized jars starting from the largest to smallest.
- Bring to a boil the solution of water, vinegar and salt and then keep at simmer.
- Using a ladle, pour the mixture into the jar until the cucumbers are submerged. Make sure there is at least 1/2 inch of head room at the top.
- Put the seal on the jar then tighten using the rim.
- Place the jar in a water bath (boiling water), submerged, for 15 minutes then place on the counter and allow the seal to set, usually with a slight pop sound turning the concave rim into a convex shape. This may take between 24 to 48 hours, and while doing so, make sure to not touch the jars.
- Afterwards, store the jars in a cool dry place for 4-6 weeks before consuming.
If you notice that the seal isn’t tight on the jar, simply put it in the refrigerator and allow 5 weeks before consuming, since the refrigerator would slow down bacteria activity which means slower fermentation.
Can you pickle sliced cucumber?
You can absolutely pickle cucumber slices. After thoroughly washing the cucumber, cut them into thick round slices and then add them into the jar, then add the brine solution and proceed to lid and ferment.
Can you put cucumber in store bought pickle juice?
No, you should not put cucumber in a store bough pickle juice. Always use fresh brine to pickle cucumber as that would develop the best flavors and taste. You can however, put cucumber in store bough pickle juice to marinate, but you need to make sure the marination is done in the refrigerator and that you consume the cucumbers within 2 weeks.