Adaptable Pickling Spice

As Cathy Barrow notes in her book, you can get pickling spice in the spice aisle at the local grocery store should your recipe call for it. But the store-bought kind won’t be specifically tailored to your taste. This is the mix I adapted from Barrow’s book to suit mine. Feel free to swap out any of these dried herbs and spices at will as the spice mix does not change the chemistry of the brine that makes the pickles shelf stable, it only helps add flavor.
By / Photography By Kimberly Peck | June 28, 2016

Ingredients

  • 1½ tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1½ tablespoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon smoky red pepper flakes such as marash or urfa
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 whole star anise

Preparation

Crush the seeds and berries on a mortar and pestle. Combine with red pepper. Crush the cinnamon stick with a mallet and crumble the bay leaf. Add both to the mix. Pour the mix into a glass jar, cover, give it a shake and store it for up to one year.

Prepping the Cuke

Barrow does two things before dropping a cucumber in pickle brine. First, she cuts off the blossom end of the cucumber as it contains an enzyme that will make your pickles mushy. “The blossom end is the opposite of the stem end, but if that’s just too hard to remember, simply slice off a bit from each end and stop worrying,” she says. Secondly, she soaks cucumbers in ice water for an hour before pickling to both dislodge any grime and plump them up in the process.

Ingredients

  • 1½ tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1½ tablespoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon smoky red pepper flakes such as marash or urfa
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 whole star anise
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