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Gut Healing and Immune Benefits of Pickle Juice

 

Pickles are delicious and wonderfully healthy when fermented using a traditional method of lactic acid fermentation – but don’t toss out the pickle juice! The cloudy, herb-filled brine in pickle juice is great for sipping or adding to a variety of recipes to amp up the acidity and flavour. There is also tremendous gut healing and immune benefits of pickle juice. Apparently, it’s getting trendy too and can often be found at farmers’ markets and in health food stores sold as ‘gut shots’.

What Is Pickle Juice?

Pickle juice is the liquid that your pickles are stored in. Most pickles sold at grocery stores are stored in vinegar, and are tasty but not fermented. Sour pickles are the traditional alternative that use salt to kick off the fermentation process. Traditional sour pickles are raw after culturing, unlike vinegar-based cucumber pickles that are cooked during the canning process – this destroys the enzymes, beneficial bacteria and heat-sensitive vitamins.

Health Benefits of Pickle Juice

The benefits of pickle juice are basically the same as for all fermented foods. One of the added benefits of pickle juice, along with sauerkraut juice or the brine left behind from any fermented vegetable, is that you’re getting that probiotic-rich liquid without the fiber.

It is so supportive of digestion and immune health that sauerkraut juice was one of the first foods our son ever ate.

I promise you he loved it and kept wanting more.

Muscle Recovery

Athletes have been drinking pickle juice for some time as an alternative to sports drinks, hence the product and claim on that display below. The high mineral content is great for providing the body with post-workout electrolytes and some studies show it can help ward off muscle cramping, though overall there is limited evidence about this.

Pickle Juice

This was at the checkout at a health food store in Joshua Tree. Just when I thought I’d seen everything in this field, this shows up! 🤣

Digestion

The probiotics in fermented foods nourish the gut microbiome, the community of bacteria in the digestive tract, helping to balance and promote good digestive health. The fermentation process can increase vitamin and mineral content while reducing anti-nutrients that may interfere with digestion, like phytic acid.

Immune Health

About 70% of our immune system resides in the gut, which means that our gut health and immune health are intricately connected. The probiotics in fermented foods support and enhance immunity while helping to modulate immune-related conditions such as inflammatory diseases, allergies and some types of cancer. Fermented foods also have anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-allergenic properties – this helps us combat infections and cultivate healthy immunity.

Cognitive Health

Our digestive tracts and brains are connected through the gut-brain axis (sometimes the gut is referred to as ‘the second brain’). It’s a two-way street: what happens in our gut affects our mood and cognition, and emotional factors can influence digestion. (Anyone who’s had a ‘gut feeling’ or stress-induced diarrhea can probably attest to this!) Fermented foods can boost cognitive function, encourage the production of brain neurotransmitters, calm the nervous system and improve mental health and wellbeing.

Alternatives to Pickle Juice

The brine of most fermented vegetables can be consumed – the benefits will remain even if you don’t like cucumber pickles. Try the brine of:

How to Make Your Own Pickles

Fermenting your own pickles and making pickle brine is easy. All you need are veggies, clean water and salt, plus any herbs you love, along with a jar to hold it all. Grab this step-by-step photo pickle tutorial here and start fermenting!

If you’re not interested in making your own pickled vegetables or pickle brine, store-bought is an option. Ensure that you purchase lacto-fermented pickles, which will be in the refrigerator section of the grocery store or health food store (the pickles in jars or cans in the aisles will be vinegar pickles and not fermented). Check labels, where you should see only vegetables, salt and herbs used.

how to use Pickle Juice

A little goes a long way with pickle juice. You don’t need to drink it by the glass, as this may produce some uncomfortable digestive symptoms (especially if you aren’t used to consuming fermented foods). Here are a few ways to use pickle juice:

  • 1-2 Tbsp post high intensity exercise to replenish electrolytes (start off with 1 tbsp)
  • Mix into salads, egg salads, tuna salads, bean/sweet potato salads or any dish where you might normally use pickles for flavour
  • Mix a few spoonfuls into dairy-free yogurt or kefir to make an awesome chip or veggie dip
  • Add to marinades for fish, tempeh, chicken or whatever you might be marinating (it’s a good meat tenderizer)
  • Use in place of vinegar in your favourite salad dressings
  • Add it to crackers or kale chip recipes
  • Use the brine as a starter for subsequent batches of pickles, sauerkraut, fermented nut cheese or fermented hot sauce
  • Use it to gently poach fish or vegetables
  • For those of you who are martini drinkers, you can also use pickle juice in place of olive juice if you make it dirty.

More Fermented Foods: Resources + Recipes

Do you like pickle juice? Please share how you like to use it in the comments!

Probiotic benefits of Pickle juice

44 responses to “Gut Healing and Immune Benefits of Pickle Juice”

  1. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday says:

    Do you think the high salt content of conventional pickle would be a detriment to its health benefits, seeing as so many of us get too much salt as it is?

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      It’s about the quality of the sea salt. Himalayan, or even celtic sea salt compared with table salt is like comparing raw goat milk cheese with kraft single slices if you know what I am saying. High quality salt and clean water are pretty much what we’re made of… like the ocean.

  2. Odelia says:

    I was made fun of to no end for eating beets (“Ewww, they taste like dirt!”), um I also have a thing for sardines and mouthfuls of dry raw oatmeal.

    My mom served a lot of health foods in the ’80s like tofu, weird grain breads, and soy milk that are totally mainstream today, but at the time, I was embarrassed to invite friends over. My dad bought special “normal” cookies and snacks to preserve my reputation! (My mom often found them and threw them out anyway). Funny that today I’m probably worse than my mom!

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      I ate dry oatmeal as a kid at summer camp. Turns out it wasn’t the oatmeal I hated but the gross peach and maple flavours added to it. And yep- I too think beets taste like dirt, but that’s kind of why I like them!

  3. Metta says:

    I don’t eat pickles, but I imagine the same results could be had from lacto-fermented saurkraut juice – yes? I typically use it in place of vinegar.

    I don’t think there is anything in particular that I eat that others say is gross, they just think my food smells awful. I cook with a lot of “Indian” spices, and for some reason that smell I love seems to be very off-putting to the people I know.

  4. Lauren says:

    Hm.. people don’t drink the juice.. new to me! ;) I love pickles (raw, fermented of course) I’ll drink that juice with a straw!

  5. Kelly Calisto says:

    hahah when I was little I used to beg my mom to let me drink the pickle juice and she wouldn’t let me. As I got older I started drinking it anyway, so good. Then once I got to college I found that the morning after drinking (too much) nothing made me feel better than drinking the juice out of the pickle jar! Granted this was store bought pickles and probably lacked a lot of the health benefits but at least a bought the good kosher dill refrigerated ones instead of the nasty bright green shelf variety.

  6. Erika says:

    Woohoo pickle juice!
    Personally, I loooove drinking the juice out of olive jars! I also like to drink balsamic vinegar straight out of the bottle. Sometimes I crave it!

    One of the habits a lot of my friends think is weird is my propensity for having steamed broccoli for breakfast. I find that it’s a great way to start the day – lots of great properties, fiber, and it’s GREEN! Also goes great with eggs, if that’s your thing (it’s mine). I’ve actually become a bit notorious for my broccoli habits; I’ve been known to eat several heads of it over the course of a morning!

  7. Alex says:

    My mum has always drunk sauerkraut juice, much for the same reasons. She prefers it with a dash of beet juice for a lovely liver ruby drink. Much to my delight (horror?) I have recently acquired the taste for this “cocktail” as well. I recommend you try it! Knocks the dirt right outta beets ;)

    Ps. I’ve been seeing this recipe around the blog scene lately where you roast potatoes after marinating them in white vinegar, and have not tried it because white vinegar is a cleaning product in my house, but maybe pickle juice would be a better alternative? I’m guessing the roasting would kill all the good probiotics though, right? But still tasty. Like dill pickle chips, without the poison :)

  8. Sarah says:

    So, I totally don’t count towards the tally because I’m pregnacious, but I absolutely love pickle juice!

  9. Helen says:

    I have been making Lacto fermented pickles and Sauerkraut for a few years now and I love it. I had to stop using whey when I found out I had a dairy allergy but once I got used to the extra saltiness I still love my pickles. The best LF food for a beginner is salsa I find. Everyone loves it and no-one knows it’s even lacto fermented

  10. Susheela says:

    I LOVE drinking pickle juice! I save it and use as salad dressing, adding a little olive oil, mixing with some kalamata (sp?) olive juice. Do you have a easy refrigerator pickle recipe Meghan?

  11. Jennifer R. says:

    I took my youngest 2 kids to an event at their school tonight — fruit and vegetable bingo. They had fun, but of course, there was no jicama, brussels sprouts, okra, or kale to be called out. When I told the mom across from me what vegetables we had for dinner tonight, I think she was quite shocked — brussels sprouts, beets, and yams (roasted — oh so delicious!). Oh, and the rest of the people there — ate pizza at the school for dinner!

  12. Mary says:

    When I was a kid we always took the pickle juice and froze it in the freezer. It was delicious, eating it frozen. It’s like a pickle Popsicle. Also, my great aunt taught us to thin the mayo in tuna or chicken salad, you mix some pickle juice and mayo Ina bowl, and then put it in the chicken or tuna recipe.

  13. Autumn Greene says:

    I have been drinking the pickle juice from my pickles ever since I was little. lol I just love the way it tastes!!!

  14. Leah says:

    Ever since I was a little girl I have been drinking pickle juice straight out of the jar. About 5 years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. When I have a flare-up I stock the fridge with a HUGE jar of pickles and start drinking. This alleviates muscle spasms I get from dehydration. Also like you added above, replenishes the electrolyte loss from extreme diarrhea. Too funny on the good bacteria in your gut, because I just recently read an article on the fermented foods carrying the good bacteria. People with Crohn’s are missing the good bacteria.

  15. Leah says:

    I just read the section “About Meghan” and see that you too were diagnosed with Crohn’s. I have found my own way through the diet issue. After looking at a bunch of information, about 18 months ago I went with the JJ Virgin Diet. It’s been very helpful. My biggest complaint is with medical doctor’s, they do not teach nutrition. I am very happy you were able to find your way to help yourself and others. Good Luck!

  16. Jason says:

    I have been a football referee in Houston Texas for 14 years. Towards the end of summer it is still blistering hot and chasing around teens on the football where the temps exceed 110 degrees on the field I have a two full cups of pickle juice at half time to replenish and 4 cups after the game. I feel right as rain the next morning while my fellow officials are dehydrated and wore out. One day they will learn from us, the smart ones. I call my pickle shots, Picklers. LOL!!!

  17. Musette says:

    As an older person I value pickles for this reason: pain relief for stiff knees.
    Ingesting either 1 pickle or some of the juice = in 20 minutes roughly =
    pain relief as good as over the counter aspirin etc, without side effects. I alternate with bananas one day (the magnesium soothes stiff knees) and pickles the next day (again, magnesium….). This isn’t medical advice. No. Just a passing on what I’ve found to work well for myself over time.

  18. Margie Semon says:

    I drink dill pickle juice and also eat sauerkraut which I love. Can anyone tell me if the Bread and Butter pickles do the same as the Dill ones for muscle cramps? Thanks…

  19. Janice Herren says:

    I have always had a shot or to of pickle juice when ever I start having a sore throat, and it has always helped. I think the viniger and salt help. My children and Grandchildren also know and love this trick.

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      That would likely help numb your throat but the really super powers are likely the probiotic benefit- essential for immune health.

  20. Roger says:

    Finally. After years of being labelled odd by family for my love of pickle juice (since I was a child) the heaven’s opened and revealed this bit of truth. Thank you!

  21. Tom says:

    How much pickle juice do you recommend taking?

  22. Ashley says:

    Do store bought pickles still have probiotics if they’ve been pasteurized? I know most of the brands in my grocery store are pasteurized.

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      They do not. Pasteurization would kill all bacteria. Bubbie’s is a store bought brand to look out for where there is still beneficial bacteria.

  23. Rhianon says:

    Great article! We certainly believe in the power of pickle juice! If you are looking for some pickle juice that still contains live beneficial bacteria, check out http://bubbies.com. We also have an assortment of recipes posted in case you are looking for a great way to spice up your next meal!

  24. ed de la cruz says:

    i ferment cucumbers to make pickle & i always drink the pickle juice on regular basis but i cant eat the pickle cuz i have no teeth Is it safe to blend the pickles before or after i ferment

  25. Ann-Marie says:

    Our fermented pickle juice takes caesars to a whole new level of Awesomeness! A little goes a long way so taste as you add to find your perfect mix.

  26. Brandy says:

    I have Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and one major problem I have is electrolytes
    And hydration.. I’ve just started learning all about how good pickles are for us potsies.. also because of pots mcas and Ed’s I need to find a no chemical cleaning option thanks for all the awesome ways to make cleaners and oils:-) I’m looking forward to the diffusers to :-)

  27. saundra boyd says:

    i love the sweet pickle juice in the bread and butter pickles, it is so good and now that i know the benefits of pickle juice. i need to find out how to make and take it.

  28. Daniel says:

    I moved furniture for over 25years and as long as I can remember if we were working and started getting cramps from heat dehydration and just pushing your body to it’s physical limits. Pickle juice never failed

  29. Robert Werbowesky says:

    Hi There, Thank you for the article, however I’m still a bit confused. You make a small mention how store bought pickles are vinegar based and not fermented. So I’m assuming that juice is not beneficial to our gut biome. Our inquiry is the result of looking at the label for Antipasto from costco. Low sugar, low fat and not terrible salt content. But we wanted to know if it was having a positive or negative effect on our gut. Any thoughts? Thanks, Robert

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Robert! That’s right – a lot of store-bought pickled veggies are preserved in vinegar and not fermented. I wouldn’t recommend drinking the juice from those products, as you won’t get the health benefits. Look for the lacto-fermented veggies, which are in the refrigerator section. It’s also very easy to make your own: https://www.culinarynutrition.com/make-pickles/

  30. Alex says:

    Is it just the salt in the pickle juice that is gut-healing? Can’t I just drink water and salt and have the same benefits?

    • https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/599ccdf73b6d2f26a247dd52e9e5f8b8?s=51&d=blank&r=g Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Alex! It’s the fermentation process that yields the benefits. Drinking water with a pinch of salt won’t offer the benefits I’ve described.

  31. dan roberson says:

    I get severe leg cramps at night and CRAWL to the frig for a swig of pickle juice. Usually, cramps gone within 2 minutes. I don’t much care for the taste, but the results are worth it!

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