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Upcyle your pickle juice: make "Cheezy Trashy Ranch" dressing or dip

 
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So, I was listening to the podcast version of The Splendid Table, which is the long-running National Public Radio (NPR) food show.  There was an episode called Second life for faded food: reducing food waste with chef Abra Berens that, honestly, I found disappointing, as I think most Permies would have.  Pay attention to your produce, eat it or store it before it goes off, a few easy things you can cook with things that are right on the edge of losing their freshness.  I mean, really?  Maybe this is all new to the Lexus-driving Whole Foods shopper, but going to the root cellar and bringing back the worst carrots first, then washing and cutting off the black bits was literally my chores before I got out of the first grade.  So I didn't find it very earth shattering.  

There was, however, a half-paragraph that plucked at my ears:

This is another thing I love; we call it trashy ranch in our house. It’s equal parts pickle juice from the jar as after you've eaten all the pickles and mayonnaise. Shake it up into a really nice dressing. It's like Super Tangy. You can do it with sauerkraut juice. You could do a Kimchi juice. Anything that's like really acidic in that way.



I love proper ranch dressing, but my chosen way of eating excludes most processed foods and added oils.  Ranch dressing is both; and it's most often made with low quality oils that taste rancid to me right out of the bottle after a few years of not buying/eating them. So I don't buy it and I haven't troubled myself to make a high-quality homemade substitute; if I did that, I'd have it on hand by the quart, and I'd eat it by the quart, and I don't need to be eating quarts of greasy condiments.

For various reasons, however, I do keep on hand and consume small amounts of mayonnaise.  It's a departure from my overall food scheme, but a very minor one.  

So I tried the "Trashy Ranch" -- and I like it!  Mostly because I can put a couple of teaspoons of mayo and a teaspoon of pickle juice in a little pyrex / glass prep bowl and whisk them together when I just need a tablespoon of condiment to dip, like, one fresh garden carrot and a sliced up cucumber in.  It's portion controlled -- keeps me from eating six ounces of greasy goodness at a sitting, which is important for an old binge-eater from way back like me -- and salty and acidic and satisfying and indulgent in that necessary way we discussed in the thread about sometimes not wanting to eat the food that you grow.

It's also a lot more strongly-flavored (more acidic, saltier) than true ranch dressing, which means that a smaller amount goes a lot further toward satisfying various cravings.  At least for me.

I'm not saying one damn thing about it being actually healthy, of course.  These are mostly salt/vinegar brines I'm using -- the juice from commercial pickles, green olives, and capers.   Sodium, oh my!  And depending on the pickled products, maybe even a few ugly preservatives to boot.  (Hopefully not much!)  If you're making your own fermented stuff, you might have delicious sour brines full of probiotic excellence to work with.  

I did work out one "improvement" on the Trashy Ranch "recipe" from Splendid Table.  What happened was, I kept messing up!  And splashing a tiny bit too much pickle juice into my prep bowl.  So when I whisked up my trashy ranch, it was too runny, and dripped off my dipping veggies.  

Well, that wouldn't do.  I tried a couple of things, but what worked best was whisking in a teaspoonful of the dreaded nutritional yeast -- I used powder, but flake would probably work just as well.  I am in the camp of plant-based eating people who thinks "nooch" (I hate that diminutive, but it's all over the cooking web) does in fact give foods a sort of cheesy flavor, though I admit this is probably just because I don't get very much "real" cheesy flavors (and I miss them).  

So when my Trashy Ranch is too runny, I mix in just a smidge of nutritional yeast, and that not only thickens it up to a nice ranch dressing consistency, it turns it into what I call "Cheezy Trashy Ranch" -- hence the subject line of this post.  

Hope somebody tries this and enjoys it!


 
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I use leftover pickle juice to "washout" salad dressing or mayo jars.  You know, to get out that last little bit.  I save these jars in the fridge until I want to make potato salad.  This mayo/pickle juice concoction is my secret ingredient for making great tasting potato salad.  
 
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Wow I love this idea, thanks!
 
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