What Is Pickling Spice?


Pickling spice is a type of seasoning used in cooking and canning. Pickling spice is a mixture of many spices and is typically used to make foods that are "pickled," including dill pickles, sweet pickles and pickled meats. There are many recipes for pickling spice, or it can be purchased at a grocery store.


  • Pickling spice can be made from various combinations of spices, creating a mixture that is usually coarse and loose. According to Allrecipes.com, pickling spice recipes can include a combination of allspice, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mustard seeds and peppercorns. Other recipes may include juniper berries, dill seed, mace and hot peppers.

Foods Enhanced by Pickling Spice

  • Pickling spice can be used to make dill and sweet pickles as well as flavor meat, such as corned beef; vegetables, such as cabbage, onions, and beets; and fish, such as salmon and herring, according to Chow.com. You can also use pickling spices in hot sauce, to make pickled eggs and to season salsa, among other foods.

Spice Bag

  • To use pickling spice, most recipes suggest wrapping a small amount of pickling spice in cheesecloth or a coffee filter and tying the makeshift bag with a string. Chow.com recommends 1 tablespoon of pickling spice per quart of liquid. Use the bag of pickling spices while you're cooking, and remove the bag before serving or canning the food. Leaving the spices whole helps keep spice residue out of your food, according to Chow.com.

Spiced Vinegar

  • You can also cook the spice directly in vinegar before the vinegar is used to make pickles, according to Epicentre.com. You can crush the spices or leave them whole. Place them in an enameled saucepan with vinegar and bring them to boil. Strain the spices out of the vinegar before use. You may also infuse the vinegar with spices without boiling the mixture. Place the spices in a bottle of vinegar and allow it to sit for two days. Strain the spices from the vinegar and discard, or use the spices to flavor another bottle of vinegar.

Sample Recipe

  • Epicentre.com recommends the following 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 inch (2.5 cm) piece of dried ginger root
    1 inch (2.5 cm) of cinnamon stick
    3 dried bay leaves

    You may want to experiment with your own combination of spices to perfect your pickling spice recipe.

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