Quick Chilli Pickle in Reused Olive Brine

When I met MJ and started reading the wonderful MJ’s Kitchen I discovered a whole new world of exotic dishes, ingredients and techniques. We share a huge love for chilli (or chile, as MJ would say) in all its forms, but her ways of cooking and using it are usually completely new to me. MJ might be surprised but I always think about her whenever I open a jar of olives. In fact, until I met MJ I would simply discard the olive brine from an empty jar, (unless my husband hasn’t drunk it!), but I’ve seen MJ use olive brine in so many creative ways, it started to make me think it’s totally wrong to throw it away.

One day I thought I’d recycle this brine and try making quick chilli pickles. The result was so good, I now always make sure I have two or three chillies in the fridge whenever I open a jar of olives. Such quickly pickled chilli slices are still crunchy, only lightly altered in taste and texture and they make an excellent snack or an addition to salads and sandwiches. If, like my husband, you like drinking olive brine, you can still drink it after you’ve finished this “secondary” pickle, but beware, the brine will be even hotter than the chilli. Now olive brine makes me think even more about MJ because I know as soon as I finish the olives, I’ll throw some chillies into the same jar and have a delicious hot snack I’m sure she would enjoy. Thank you so much, dear MJ, for your constant inspiration!

If you have just opened a jar of vinegar-pickled vegetables (cucumbers for example), once you have finished it, you can try the same method to make quick secondary cucumber pickles with leftover vinegar pickling brine:

Cucumber Pickled in Reused Vinegar Brine

TIPS: This quick recycled brine pickling idea is intended for olives pickled in salt brine (salt and water), not preserved in oil or with addition of oil (you might try it too, but I don’t guarantee the results).

The photo you see above was made at the moment I started pickling. The red chilli colour won’t change but the green chilli slices will soon turn olive green, so don’t worry, it’s normal.

Some olives are sold in plastic pouches. Once you have finished the olives, transfer the brine into a glass jar and then  pickle the chillies (don’t reuse the plastic pouch for that). Olives might be sold also in metal cans, but I’ve never tried pickling in the leftover brine from such olives. I’m worried it might take a metallic taste… If you ever intend to do it, make sure you don’t reuse the same can (anyway, I’m sure most of you know, metal cans should be emptied as soon as they are open, so you should transfer the olives with their brine into a ceramic or glass container as soon as you open them).

Obviously, if you don’t like fiery food and cannot handle chillies, you can pickle sweet peppers in the same way.

If your pickled chilli has developed a mould on top, throw it away and don’t be put off by this first experience. I have made these reused brine pickles at least dozen of times, always in the same way and once they developed mould, I have no idea why (it might have been some dirt on the chillies or a fork which had touched some other food product and then used to retrieve olives from this brine…).

Preparation: 2-3 days


a jar with brine from pickled olives (you can reuse the same jar)

raw chillies, washed, dried and sliced

Place the chilli slices into the brine, making sure the liquid covers all of them (they will float a bit of course, but don’t pack too much chilli, otherwise some of the pieces won’t pickle at all) and cover with a tight lid.

Place the jar into the warmest part of the fridge (vegetable drawer is a good place or the fridge doors) and wait 2 or 3 days (taste the chilli to see if it’s already changed the taste). You can shake the jar once or twice a day. Don’t keep these pickles for more than a week and transfer them to a colder place in the fridge once you think they are done. (After a certain time they might start developing mould).

12 Replies to “Quick Chilli Pickle in Reused Olive Brine”

  1. The vibrant colours in that top picture actually makes me wish I didn’t not like pickles as much as I do … cucumbers, olives … it doesn’t matter. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of ‘dirty’ martinis with the olive brine but since that would involve having a jar of olives in the house, it’s never happened. I wonder how caper brine would work. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, A_Boleyn. I haven’t heard about dirty martini… Sounds interesting, though I’m usually not a fan of martini.
      I did test caper brine, but the result was bad (probably because there is always vinegar apart from the salt brine, unless of course capers are preserved in salt only).

  2. Olive tree is blessed by Athina, goddess of wisdom and it was the gift she gave to Athenians for choosing her name for their city. It is truly a very important ingredient in our diet with substances that only recently we started realizing their therapeutic values. This little vase is packed with flavors and health!

    1. Thank you so much, Katerina, for the lovely comment. Strangely we have quite a big choice of olives in Swiss supermarkets, and recently they must have passed several deals with Greek producers because we have several varieties of Greek olives too! I love olives…

  3. What a creative and economical use of olive brine, although I think it may be a little too hot for me, but I do have the urge to try it! The colour is splendid and would dress up any old sandwich or as a condiment for meat. Recently, we have been eating a lot of fresh bowls, a little of these beautifully pickled red chilli’s would be a delicious addition.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. You know, there are different levels of chilli heat, so you should find those you can stand. Not to mention thin-skinned sweet peppers which would be perfect here too!

  4. I’ve yet to try olive brine in pickling (I tend to go the straight up vinegar route) but the funny thing is we go through at least one large glass bottle of olives a week in this house so we have plenty around and since we all adore the flavor, I’m guessing this would work well for us. As for the chiles, I’m fully open! I tend to buy pickled peppers (jalapeno usually) so this makes entire sense to me. It’s a fun project too – I notice that hatch chiles (MJ’s New Mexico classic) have started pouring in to our market maybe I’ll experiment with those. Good point about the metallic issue – I’ve never purchased olives that way but other things for sure and I’m always leery.

    1. Hi Kelly! Since you have so much leftover olive brine, you should try this quick pickling method. The result will be half-raw, still crunchy and with a slight pickle taste only, but I find it wonderful to avoid discarding this brine…
      I also love pickled jalapeños (the ones I buy are in vinegar). I even grow some jalapeños on my balcony (cannot find fresh ones here 🙁 ) but they are not enough to pickle in jars for the winter…

  5. WOW! I certainly wasn’t expecting this! What a sweetheart you are. I don’t know what to say but thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your kind words. 🙂

    I’m so glad that you tried this easy way to pickle chili peppers and that you liked it. Was it hard to get to the olive brine before your husband drank it? 🙂 I used to drink it as well, but now I’d rather use it in other ways. I love to add some of the chili hot brine to peas, beans, and dashed over vegetables. Of course the jewel is just eating the pickled chili if you are one that can stand the heat. Your jar of chili is gorgeous as always. Thanks for everything Sissi!

    1. Dear MJ, thank you so much for the kind words and compliments! This is me who should thank you once more for giving me the olive brine use idea! I have to browse through your posts once more and start copying all the ways you use it too. Thanks for reminding me!
      Luckily my husband likes these semi-pickled chillies so much, he doesn’t mind missing the brine drink 😉 Actually our favourite brine is the leftover brine from olives stuffed with jalapeños (I still cannot believe my nearest supermarket sells these all the time…. because I don’t really live in a chilli lovers’ country…). The chillies pickled in this brine are sensational!!!!

  6. I also like MJ’s blog a lot, amazing what she makes with chili. And I have never heard of using olive brine before, I always throw it away, I feel like such a fool right now. 🙂 I am totally trying this next time, I threw away the brine from the last jar of olives just yesterday… And I will try to put some veggies in the cucumber brine as well, I still have some of that in the fridge, I sometimes add it to soups or (potato) salads.

    1. Hi, Adina. You know, I have never done anything with cucumber brine, so thank you for the tips!

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