Buying or making your pickling spice may sound confusing at first. If you love pickling vegetables, like me, then you surely know that using spices in the process can go a long way.
Before we dig into choosing your perfect pickling spice, you probably wonder, what are pickling spices used for?
What Are Pickling Spices Used For?
Pickling spice is one that can withstand the pickling process and adds flavor to the fruits and vegetables. Usually, it consists of whole or crumbled spices, but not ground.
To use my pickling spice, I add it to the cooking process tied in cheesecloth. After the flavors are done releasing, I remove the cheesecloth and finish cooking. Pickling spices are meant to infuse your food with flavor, but not change the texture.
These are the 5 steps to choose your next pickling spice
Step #1: Check out pre-packaged pickling spices
Not everyone likes to use premade and pre-packaged pickling spices, but if you are running low on time, they may come in handy. If I’m running low on time, I buy mine in bulk and use it as is or mix it with other spices.
Step #2: Make your blend at home for better flavors
While not all of us have time to do this every time, if you do find time to make your mix of spices, I suggest you try it. Some good ideas for spices to include are:
- Bay leaves
- Mustard seeds
- Cardamom seeds
- Celery seeds
- Red pepper flakes
- Dill seeds
Step #3: Use your spices in time
I have asked myself often, do pickling spices go bad? The truth is, they don’t spoil per se. If you use a commercial pickling mix, this will last for about 1-3 years without any problems.
On the other hand, a homemade pickling spice mix does have somewhat of an expiration date. For one, the spices may lose potency with time, they may dry out, and they may start smelling.
When the time comes to pick your pickling spice, be sure to smell them and even try them just to be sure they are still safe to use.
Step #4: Don’t confuse pickling salt with a pickling spice
I have seen people confused about the difference between pickling spice and pickling salt. The truth is, pickling salt is canning salt or preserving salt, but it doesn’t contain any ingredients that could make the pickling liquid cloudy.
Most pickling salt is simply sodium chloride, and it doesn’t have iodine or anti-caking ingredients. However, in my experience, this salt isn’t the only one you can use. Kosher salt works well too.
Step #5: Choose spices based on your vegetables or fruits
Finally, I find that picking the right spice depends on what I’m pickling. If I’m pickling jalapenos, I try to go with spices that also have a bit of heat, like red pepper flakes. For pickles, I experiment with any spice I like. If I’m pickling carrots, then ginger, garlic, and fennel seeds are delicious.
Make sure you try your chosen spices first, then make your mix at home, and add it while cooking.
Now you are ready to become a true expert at pickling with the right pickling spice!