This is a new one old idea from ancient times. Did you know that before sports drinks like Gatorade or PowerAde became a thing, runners and athletes were known to drink pickle juice? They used it to replenish sodium and potassium which helped them reduce muscle cramps and speed up recovery after exercising. Sodium is an electrolyte.
Pickles were considered a health food in the time of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. They date back to 2030 BC when travelers from India preserved cucumbers in water and salt. Over their journey, the cucumbers would become fermented by probiotic bacteria called Lactobacillus. Today’s pickling process removes the bacteria but you still get the sodium and potassium.
Drinking something with sodium and potassium can help your body get hydrated quicker. Small doses of pickle juice help relieve muscle cramps within minutes of ingestions. In a 2009 study by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that frozen pickle juice also helps reduce mealtime glycemia or blood sugar spikes from carb heavy meals.
Fast forward to 2007 at the Bushwick Country Club in Brooklyn and you could get a shot a whisky with a shot of pickle juice. This came to be known as “The Pickleback” and was said to be created by Reggie Cunningham. Reggie popularized the Pickleback in the Northeast and also gives credit to its origin in Texas.
While it was popularized in upstate New York at a country club, our pals in Texas swear it has been a constant for nearly 100 years in that state. Colloquially, they shared that oil field workers coming off the job would pull into their favorite saloon, parched and dehydrated asking for a shot of whisky and pickle juice shot. Interesting combination with the sweet flavor of the whiskey chased by the salty pickle juice. We tried it at home so we wouldn’t make a scene at the bar. Wow! It is an interesting flavor and it seems like during these last few weeks of summer, we are hankering for an experiment.
So, we asked master chef Brooke Eggers of Greyline Taste factory about this. “Oh, hell yeah! Having spent time in Texas I had my share of Jamo and a Pickleback,” she exclaimed. We got to talking about it and she introduced me to her sous chef Meaghan Gilmore, a Texas gal, who told us about the hydration properties of pickle juice and set us off on a research project to find out more.
To this end, chefs Brooke and Meaghan made us some pickle juice popsicles as a way to chill and hydrate. Who would have thought that you could get so much from pickle juice?
So, while you are hitting that rig for the next dab and start getting cottonmouth, you may want to experiment and try an infused pickle juice pop to enjoy over the upcoming Labor Day weekend.