Instead of tossing this spicy vinegar mixture, designate it the flavor-packed secret ingredient of all your summer cooking.  

By Ananda Eidelstein
Updated May 21, 2018
pickle juice
Credit: Sanny11/Getty Images

One of our favorite tricks for adding big, bright flavor to seemingly basic ingredients is to quick pickle vegetables. We love to pickle shallots in red wine vinegar to add zing to tacos or this Soft-Boiled Egg and Radish Smorrebrod. The sweetness of white balsamic vinegar complements these carrot ribbons in a crunchy salad and even distilled white vinegar adds big flavor to simple crudite.

But pickling can require a decent amount of vinegar that often ends up being discarded after its main job is done—even though it's packed with flavor. To pour this salty, spicy, and sometimes sweet vinegar mixture down the drain is practically a culinary sin! We recommend these ways to use it up instead:

Smash and chop cucumbers and toss with any leftover pickling liquid (even the stuff that came with your Kosher dills). Smashing and then chopping cucumbers, allows them to absorb even more flavor. For more cucumber inspo, this salad is a great place to start.

Or swap the vinegar called for in recipes like Green Beans with Bacon Vinaigrette or use it to make a simple dressing for a green salad. Remember, you’ve already seasoned the vinegar so be sure to taste the new dressing before you add any more salt.

Craving salt and vinegar chips? Drizzle a tablespoon of pickling liquid over roasted potatoes seasoned with salt and pepper. Or fold in a bit of the liquid into a potato salad for added vibrancy. Serve either alongside fish or steak.

Ripe summer tomatoes are a dream with just a sprinkle of salt, but can be taken to another level with a couple tablespoons of spiced brine.

Basically, you can (and should) use pickle juice to replace vinegar in pretty much any savory recipe.

And if you're vegan, there's another soaking liquid you should be hanging onto instead of pouring down the drain. Aquafaba, a.k.a. the viscous liquid found in a can of chickpeas, is the new egg replacement that will change your life—and the way you cook.