Pickling Spice–How and Why to Make Your Own

Homemade Pickling Spice--In a Jar

If you’re reading this, I assume that you pickle.  And if you are already committed to that old-timey homesteading endeavor, you might as well take the next step, and make your own pickling spice too.   Yes, it is worth it:  making your own takes very little time;  ensures a fresher product than the ready-made pickling spice you find at the supermarket; allows for combinations of spices that you choose; and costs much less.

For the freshest product sold at the best price, go where you’ll find a high volume of sales.  First stop—the Indian grocery store.  India is home to the Spice Coast.  You‘ll find nearly every spice that you need here sold for a song.  Allspice, the rare New World spice, can be purchased at local Middle Eastern or Caribbean Mom & Pop shops. Lastly, dill seed is reasonably priced at the supermarket or try a Jewish or Polish grocery store.

To really get in touch with your pioneer roots, try growing some of the spices. I plant dill every year and it just goes to seed eventually.  I collect some seeds to use in pickling spice and the rest just replant themselves—the perfect lazy gardener specimen. Like dill, cilantro also goes to seed quickly.  I collect all I can though I usually have to buy some too.  I guess we eat our cilantro too fast to make enough seeds. Lastly, I  buy the chilies from the farmers market and dry them on newspapers or in paper bags.

Once you have purchased or dried all of your spices, transfer them from bags to jars or containers with tight fitting lids.  I recycle peanut butter jars and the like for this purpose.  Storing spices in a jar keeps them fresher and makes them easier to handle. Just be sure to label them with the spice and the date.Storing spices in recycled containers

The recipe below is what I use during the fermenting process for cucumber but it may be used in fresh pack pickles too.  I usually triple the recipe and that lasts 1 season of pickling.

Pickling Spice
Recipe type: Herbs & Seasonings
  • 3 T mustard seeds
  • 6 Mediterranean bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 - 6 dried red chilies, crumbled
  • 1 T whole allspice berries
  • 1 T dill seed
  • 1 T coriander seed
  • 1 T whole black peppercorns
  1. Mix and store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.

This is a flexible recipe so I let the girls do the measuring and mixing completely.  No knives, no fire, what could go wrong?

Homemade Pickling Spice--girls measure and mix

Working as a team without my instructions. Just reading the recipe!

Homemade Pickling Spice--girl crushes bay leaves

Crumbling bay leaves–perfect activity for little hands.

Homemade Pickling Spice--cutting the dried chilies

Using scissors to crumble the chilies–probably should have had her use gloves as we had an itching eye incident. Oops.  Good thing it happened to the tough kid.

Girl Holds Homemade Pickling Spice

Ready for pickling.

For more information and recipes on pickling and fermentation see the following links:

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