Pickling spice is a coarse mixture of spices that flavors the brine used in the pickling process, which is used to preserve vegetables like cucumbers, cabbage and carrots. Pickling spice also can add flavor to soups, stews, gravies, marinades and garnishes.
These are the most common ingredients in pickling spice.
Mustard seed is used in its whole form.
Cinnamon is crumbled and left coarse.
Peppercorns can be whole or crushed coarsely. Crushing peppercorns will diminish some of their spiciness over time.
Allspice is finely ground into a powder.
Bay leaves are crumbled coarsely.
Though mustard seed, cinnamon, peppercorn, allspice and bay leaves are the essential ingredients of pickling spice, other spices are often added to enhance its flavor. Whole cloves, ginger, mace, dill seeds, coriander seeds, juniper berries, cardamom and red pepper flakes can be added, depending on taste.