Pickling Spice is a typically British spice mixture that can be purchased ready-mixed, but some cooks prefer experimenting and emphasizing different flavours. Sometimes the spices are crushed before adding to the mixture; for other recipes the spices are tied into a cheesecloth bag, which can be removed after cooking.
In some recipes, the bag of spices may be boiled with the vinegar, then allowed to infuse. Added to a sweet or salty brine, pickling spices preserve while adding flavor. Customize your own special pickling spice by changing the proportions or adding other dry spices from your collection to this easy combination. The spices are then discarded and the flavoured vinegar is used in the pickle.
Recipe for Pickling Spice
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon cloves
- 3 or 4 dried red chilies
- 1″ (2.5 cm) piece dried ginger root
- 1″ (2.5 cm) piece cinnamon stick
- 3 dried bay leaves
Mix all the spices. Tie them in a piece of cheesecloth and use as directed in recipe. Alternatively, place the spices in a stainless steel or enamelled saucepan and pour in vinegar. Heat gently until boiling, allow to cool, then strain the vinegar and discard the spices.
To make cold spice vinegar, add the spices to a jar or bottle of vinegar and leave to infuse for two days. Strain and use as required; the spices may be discarded or used to flavour another bottle of vinegar.
Photo by Máirín (CC BY 2.0)