Make Your Own Pickling Spice

Premix your favorite spices for perfect pickles every time.
Pickling Spice

Pickling Spice

Photo by: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo by Mick Telkamp

Pickling spice is a blend of brine-friendly herbs and spices.

If you've been pickling this summer, you know pickles come in a myriad of flavors. Hot and spicy, sweet and sour, garlic or classic dill—there’s a pickle for every palate. Recipes may include a laundry list of spices, but often the list of ingredients includes simply “pickling spice.” Although this common canning ingredient sounds rather mundane, there is more to it than meets the eye.

Pickling spice isn’t actually a single spice, but a blend of herbs and spices designed to add depth and complexity to pickling recipes. Often based on some combination of mustard seeds, allspice, peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves, the ingredients can include a wide range of savory spices designed as an easy shortcut when flavoring brine. Commercially available, pickling spice can be used on its own or as the building block upon which more complicated recipes are constructed.

Depending on the brand, pickling spice can produce a flavor that will please any palate. Some lean sweet, others spicy. Pickling spice can be found in most grocery stores, but making your own is surprisingly easy and can be customized to suit any taste. Don’t like cinnamon? Leave it out. Want to turn up the heat? Increase the red pepper or add a dried chili pepper or two. Preparing pickling spice at home guarantees the ingredients are fresh and your pickles will hit the mark every time without a need to tweak every jar.

Homemade pickling spice will last about two months without losing its punch—just enough time to take you through a summer of perfect pickling without repeated visits to the spice rack.

Pickling Spice

  • 3 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 3 teaspoons celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken

Place all ingredients together in a jar with an airtight lid.

Shake to fully combine.

Store in a cool, dry location for up to 2 months.

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