Pepperoncini juice is the liquid in which pepperoncini peppers are packed. It is a pickle brine. It’s not unlike the brine in which pickled cucumbers come, which is often referred to as pickle juice. Pepperoncini juice is mostly vinegar, but it has been infused with liquids from the peppers as well as salt and any other seasonings that are used in the pickling process. While many people discard pepperoncini juice once they use the last of the peppers, they are missing out on a versatile and useful seasoning that can add a zing to quite a few recipes. Here are some of the ways that you can use pepperoncini juice.
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Because pepperoncini juice consists mostly of vinegar, it is perfect for marinating meat. Vinegar is an ancient ingredient for meat preparation. The reason it has been so popular for centuries is that vinegar not only adds flavor, but it also tenderizes meat fibers. The acid starts to break down meat — sorry to be a little gross here — like your stomach acids do. Think of it as slightly pre-digesting meat. The result is that the meat is a little more tender than it would be without the vinegar.
Pepperoncini juice won’t add a ton of flavor to meat; however, it adds enough for a light background note that complements other seasonings. One of the functions of a marinade is to keep meat from drying out; pepperoncini juice will bring moisture without watering down the flavors in a dish. Pepperoncini juice may have a little heat before you cook it, but your dish is not likely to retain any of that after cooking.
Other benefits that come with using pepperoncini juice to marinate meat include making meat safer to consume. The acidity helps to kill some bacteria that can cause spoilage and foodborne illness.
Acidity helps to cut the bitterness of some raw vegetables and may also make them a little more digestible. This is why there is a whole class of vinegar-based salad dressings. Pepperoncini juice provides all the benefits of plain vinegar along with some extra flavor. Along with the tartness of the vinegar, you get salt and pepper flavor from pepperoncini juice as well as a little heat.
You can make a simple vinaigrette by combining pepperoncini juice with a little garlic and olive oil. Shake until the two are combined.
Bloody Mary cocktails
This is one of our favorite pepperoncini juice uses. The Bloody Mary is arguably the world’s favorite savory cocktail and is always improved by tart and spicy notes like those from pepperoncini juice. It’s flavorful without being too spicy, which can be a benefit for some people. Also good is that the pepperoncini peppers are great garnishes for a Bloody Mary.
Acidity is an important part of the traditional barbecue sauce flavor profile, which is why vinegar in one form or another shows up in most recipes for sauces and mops. If you’re not a barbecue fan, the mop is a term for the basting sauce. Pepperoncini juice can work as well as apple cider vinegar or any other source of acidity for grilled and smoked meats.
The shot of brine that you use to chase your shot of whiskey is called a pickleback. While pickle juice is the traditional option for this, pepperoncini juice can work just as well.