Homemade Pickling Spice Recipe

Try this homemade pickling spice recipe — since the spices don't contribute to the pickling itself, you can change up ingredients to suit your preferences.

From "Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry"
December 2014

  • Homemade pickling spices
    Feel free to alter this homemade pickling spice recipe to suit your taste; the spices do not affect the pickling action of the brine, so the ratios are not set in stone.
    Photo courtesy W. W. Norton & Company
  • Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry
    "Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry," by Cathy Barrow, is a guide to preserving everything from fruits and tomatoes to black beans and meats, loaded with recipes to use what you make and clear, easy-to-follow directions to give even beginning preservers confidence in their endeavors.
    Cover courtesy W. W. Norton & Company
  • Homemade pickling spices
  • Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry

Total Hands-On Time: 5 min

Preparation Time: 5 min

Yield: 1/3 cup

Learn how to preserve everything you might find at a farmers market — or in your own backyard — with the clear, easy-to-follow directions you’ll find in Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014) by Cathy Barrow. Recipes for delicious ways to eat up your stores are interspersed throughout the canning, smoking, curing and brining instructions, which progress from the easiest to the most complex recipes. The following homemade pickling spice recipe is from chapter 1, “The Basics of Water Bath Canning: Answering the Siren Call of Seasonal Abundance.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry.

While pickling spice is available in every grocery store spice aisle, I encourage you to make your own. There are very strong flavors at work here. For every pickle maker out there, one loves allspice and hates cinnamon. Another wants a pickle without red pepper heat, and another prefers to swap black mustard seeds for yellow. There really are no rules, as the spice does not contribute to the pickling action, it only flavors it. So, alter these ingredients to suit yourself. (This is an exception to the "no changing the ratios" rule of water bath canning.)


• 3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
• 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
• 1 tablespoon allspice berries
• 1-1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
• 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
• A 3-inch cinnamon stick
• 2 bay leaves
• 4 whole cloves


1. Crush the seeds and berries with a mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife or the bottom of a heavy drinking glass. Transfer to a small bowl and add the red pepper, if using, and ginger. Crush the cinnamon stick with a heavy pan or mallet. Crumble the bay leaf. Add both to the bowl.

2. Funnel the spice mix into a jar, cover, and shake well. It will be fragrant for 1 year.

Use Your Pickling Spice!

Quick Pickle Recipe

Reprinted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving by Cathy Barrow. Copyright © 2014 by Cathy Barrow. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. Buy this book from our store: Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry.

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