Why Pickle Juice Is The Potato Salad Ingredient You Didn't Know You Needed

Everyone has their own tried-and-true way of making a potato salad. Celebrity chef Alton Brown tosses his potatoes with a mix of cider vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard powder, and spices. Nigella Lawson serves her potato salad warm, with garlic-infused oil, bacon, mustard seeds, and white wine vinegar. And while Ina Garten recommends adding splashes of white wine into her potato salad mix, there are home cooks that say you can't go wrong by subbing the wine with pickle juice. 

Far from being the bothersome liquid you throw out after all the pickles have been consumed, pickle brine is a well-seasoned ingredient that contains a trifecta of flavors that come from the use of vinegar, salt, and sugar, all of which are essential to prepping vegetables so they can spend more time on a shelf. Aside from the three, pickle juice can also contain spices that range from garlic, bay leaf, and dill, to red pepper flakes, and these can work together to add extra depth and dimension to the flavors of your next potato salad. 

How to incorporate pickle juice into potato salad and other uses for it

To make a mouthwatering potato salad dressing with pickle juice, just mix equal amounts of mayonnaise, dijon mustard, a dollop of yogurt, and pickle juice and adjust to taste, before tossing the dressing with your potato salad ingredients. Because it normally takes a while for potato salad to reach its full potential, you might want to start by being conservative with your quantities and adjusting the dish to taste after a few hours. While the combination might sound a bit exotic, know that this is just one of the ways German cooks make their potato salad or "kartofelsalat" — with a splash of pickle juice and it's especially delicious with a serving of currywurst.

Potato salad isn't the only dish that benefits from a splash or more of pickle juice, because it can be used to dress up other salads, like macaroni and chicken. It works because not only does pickle juice complement the flavors presented by other traditional salad dressing ingredients like mayonnaise and mustard, but it also makes a great vinegar substitute since it has elements of sour, sweet, and salty in it. And if you're not a fan of potato salad, know that pickle juice also works wonders as a vinegar substitute in other dressings.