Pickling Spice

Homemade pickling spice mixture.This is my homemade pickling spice.  To be wholly honest I don’t use it very often.  I make a lot of pickles, but I prefer my pickled vegetables to taste of vinegar and garlic and maybe one other flavour like dillseed or caraway.  The only preparation for which I regularly use this mixture is corned beef, which I make once a year, for St. Patrick’s Day or sometimes Easter.

That being said I do really love the flavour and aroma of this blend.  To me there is something festive but medieval about it.  It conflates the so-called sweet spices (allspice, clove, cinnamon) and savoury spices (pepper, mustard, coriander, bay).  That distinction between “sweet” and “savoury” flavours is more or less arbitrary: a touch of star anise or clove in a meat preparation is a thing of beauty, and spices like coriander and bay easily elide into the sweet world of cream and sugar and lemon.  Anyways, I digress.

Like mulling spice, pickling spice is used to infuse a liquid, so I typically keep the spices whole, without grinding.  One other note: the recipe below is the spice blend that I keep in my pantry, but when I use it I always combine it will an equal weight of fresh, crushed, garlic cloves.  So for instance my corned beef recipe calls for 30 g of this pickling spice mixture and 30 g whole crushed garlic cloves.

Pickling Spice

Ingredients (by weight)

  • 2 parts coriander seed, whole
  • 2 parts yellow mustard seed, whole
  • 2 parts black peppercorns, whole
  • 1 part allspice
  • 1 part clove
  • 1/2 part chili flakes
  • 1/2 part bay leaves

Approximate Yield: if 1 part is 100 g, this recipe yields roughly 240 mL

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