Pickling spices make appearances in recipes for canning pickles as well as for preserved vegetables and homemade corned beef. Store-bought versions usually contain cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and chilies along with whole allspice, black pepper, mustard seed and coriander. Some versions contain ground mace, coriander and ginger as well.
Whip up your own blend of spices as a substitute for the bottled kind or opt for other, altogether milder alternatives.
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- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into small bits
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon dill seed
- 1 tablespoon allspice berries
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 5 large bay leaves, crumbled
Mix the ingredients and place them in an airtight container. Add to recipes that call for "pickling spices" measure for measure.
Be creative and add other whole spices, including juniper berries, star anise and fennel seeds.
Cherry leaves and grape leaves help pickles retain crispness in a jar. You won't get the same complex blend of flavors as you would if you add the whole spices, but the pickles will turn out crisp and tangy. Whole cloves of garlic, celery leaves and large hunks of onion also add flavor to pickles when they don't have pickling spices added.
For corned beef, you can get away with adding just a few whole black peppercorns, allspice and bay leaves instead of the complex blend of pickling spices. Again, a simpler mixture yields a simpler flavor, but one that is still enjoyable.