Should Brine Be Refrigerated?

A woman standing in front of an open refrigerator with a questioning look on her face.

Brine is the perfect thing to keep most meats juicy and flavourful, and it is used to preserve meats and other foods. It is the perfect mixture between salty and a bit of sweetness with a few fresh herbs added in to jazz up the taste. Some brine recipes may require making at least one gallon, which can be too much for certain meat cuts. Can you keep the unused leftover brine? If so, should it be refrigerated to be stored correctly?

You should definitely refrigerate your brine. This will allow your brine to last longer, giving you time to use the whole batch instead of throwing half of it away. This will also ensure that the brine does not grow mold or other things that could potentially contaminate the brine and make you sick.

There are many brine recipes out there in the world. Some brines last longer than others, and some are only single-use brines. How do you make sure the brine is ok to save and use later?

How To Store Unused Brine Correctly

If you want your brine to keep and remain unspoiled, then it should be refrigerated. Some brines are still useable if left on the kitchen counter overnight for one night. However, all the experts recommend refrigerating brine as soon as you can after making it.

If your brine contains any fresh herbs and spices, then refrigerating the brine is best as they can spoil the brine faster if it is not stored properly. If the brine is fully saturated with salt, then the brine with fresh ingredients can last at room temperature overnight as the salt will preserve them.

If the brine is not fully saturated with salt, then the fresh ingredients may spoil if unrefrigerated overnight and the brine will have to be thrown out. To store brine correctly, ensure that it has not come into contact with anything else that could cause spoilage.

First, let the brine completely cool down to room temperature. Then place the brine into an airtight container, like this one on Amazon, and place it in the fridge.

The refrigeration of the brine can prolong its freshness and usability for quite some time. Brine that does not have any fresh ingredients in it can last almost indefinitely in the fridge. Brine that does have fresh ingredients in it will only last about two weeks in the fridge, so make sure you will be able to use the leftover brine before this time is up.

A whole chicken brining in a bag with fresh whole herbs on top, the bag is open showing the top of the raw chicken.
If brine has already been used on meat, it is not safe to reuse it

Should You Keep Used Brine?

You may have used all of the brine already and are wondering what to do with it now that the brining process is complete for your cut of meat.

If you have used brine at all, especially on meat, then it is highly recommended to throw out the brine that was used. If it is used on another food, it could contaminate the new food that you put into the brine. This could lead to food poisoning.

If the brine was used for vegetables, then it may be possible to reuse the brine with caution. Make sure that the brine is still saturated with salt and that nothing has started to grow in the brine. Also, be sure that it was stored correctly in the refrigerator before you use it again.

A lot of people do still believe that no matter how the brine was used, it should be thrown out after use. This is a personal preference; use your own discretion in this decision.

What about reusing pickled onion brine? Read my article about how, when you can, and when you shouldn’t!

Things To Consider Before Storing Unused Brine

The following are a few things to keep in mind if you are deciding on whether you should or should not store your unused leftover brine.

Brine can take up a fair amount of space in your refrigerator. Make sure you are willing to give up this fridge space until you have the opportunity to use the leftover brine.

Brine can also be quite heavy so make sure your fridge shelves are structurally sound before putting a large quantity of brine into your refrigerator. The last thing you want to happen is for the shelf to collapse due to the weight of the brine, with the brine and everything else in your fridge spilling everywhere.

The ingredients to make brine are also quite cheap, so if you are not willing to give up fridge space or do not have enough fridge space to begin with, then you may want to throw out leftover brine. You can always make more at a later stage if you need to, with very little expense.

How To Tell If Your Brine Is Off

You accidentally leave brine out overnight while it is cooling, and don’t remember until later the next afternoon. Now what? Is the brine still okay to use, or is it spoiled?

The following are steps to follow to determine if your brine has indeed spoiled.

Step #1: Check for Mold in the Brine

Take a close look at the brine. Is the color uneven, or is there any indication of mold in the brine? If the color is uneven or you spot some mold in the brine, then this is a good indication that the brine is spoiled.

Step #2: Check The Smell of the Brine

Check the surface of the brine and smell it. If there is a foul smell or mold on the surface, then it needs to be thrown out, and you need to start the brine-making process from scratch.

A chicken in brining liquid in a pot with oranges and fresh herbs.
If the brine has fresh herbs, be sure to check them

Step #3: Check the Herbs

If you added whole fresh herbs to your brine, then fish a bit of them out. If the herbs feel slimy to the touch, this could also indicate that the brine is off and needs to be thrown out.

These three indications do not need to all be present together. If one or the other is present, then the brine is spoiled. Remember that a useable brine needs to have a pleasantly sour smell and a cloudy, dull color.

To make sure brine does not spoil, place it in the fridge to keep cool as soon as you can. This way it can be used at a later date. Set a reminder or alarm so you don’t forget about your brine.

One way is to make brine earlier in the day, so it has enough time to cool off and go in the refrigerator before you go to bed. Another way is to set an alarm on your phone to notify you when it is time to check on your brine.


Refrigerate brine to make it last longer and to ensure that you do not get sick from it spoiling. If you refrigerate your brine, then you will probably be able to use the entire batch without issue.

Refrigerating brine gives you quick access to a good, homemade brine that you know you can enjoy whenever you want. This is the best way to store brine to get the most out of it!

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