Do you ever have brine left-over at the bottom of your ferments? That brine is actually *teeming* with beneficial bacteria. Gut-healing bacteria. The type you pay big money for in the store under the name of ‘probiotics’.
That’s why fermentation (not pickling) is so much more than a natural source of food preservation- it’s also an age-old way to balance our inner ecosystems.
In fact, one MD actually went so far as to have his ferments tested and found that “it had 10 trillion colony-forming units of bacteria. Literally, one serving of vegetables was equal to an entire bottle of a high potency probiotic!”
Considering that good quality probiotics can be quite pricey and that making ferments at home can be done for just a few bucks (or less), it only makes sense to eat not pop your probiotics whenever possible.
Whether you buy or make your own fermented kraut, pickles, kimchi (or whatever) here are a few simple ways you can use every last drop.
*Some of these tips are also helpful for *disguising* ferments in food for kids (or adults) who just won’t eat them otherwise…
1. Add to salad dressings: it adds great tang and *hint* of saltiness. Yum!
2. Add to your morning glass of water, or, if you can handle it, drink it straight. Have you ever heard of the old fashioned remedy of drinking pickle juice to cure a hangover? Obviously, past generation inherently recognized the gut-soothing properties of naturally made ferments (sorry- that doesn’t carry over to vinegar-laden, heat-processed versions that line today’s store shelves). That leads me to the next point if you have the occasional drink…
3. Add it to a Ceaser or Bloody Mary. I don’t drink but apparently this tastes great : ) I really like the idea of brine and tomato juice though. That just sounds good.
4. Re-use as a starter for other ferments (few tbsp per quart). This will help jumpstart the process.
5. Use to marinate meat. I use leftover brine as well as lacto-fermented drinks like kombucha and kefir to marinate meat (especially moose roast). It helps tenderize the meat and tastes delicious.
6. Pour into a bowl of soup. Let your soup cool a bit though so the beneficial microorganisms aren’t killed. Adds a nice tang to soups like this kale and navy bean version I cooked up for a friends fundraiser cookbook.
7. Add a splash to your fresh juice or smoothie. When it’s in a smoothie, I find it goes best in the green versions.
8. Mix into rice and stir frys. I find brine to complement these meals very well- particularly if it’s from something like, say, kimchi or a kraut seasoned with curry…
9. Make an absolutely fabulous tuna or egg salad sandwich. This is oh-so-good. It adds a certain je-ne sais quoi to what can be an otherwise boring stand-by…
10. Feed it to your chickens. Your girls will thank you for the immunity boost. Just add it to their water.
Do you have other ways to use your leftover brine? Share them! We’d love to hear from you…