Updated: Oct 1, 2020
Have you ever made pickles? Pickles are so easy to make, and even better to eat. You can make them in the fridge, ferment them on the counter top, or classically process them the stove top. Pickles offer you a variety of flavor experiences, sweet, spicy, sour or loaded with a vinegary tang. As with most food favorites they are tied with memories, for me pickles were my Grandmother’s Bread and Butter Pickles, intertwined with every holiday memory I have. The last batch that she made were so cherished and coveted, worth more than any food delicacy in the world.
In the last few years I have been getting back to canning and pickling, and seriously questioning how my Grandmother did this in her tiny, very hot kitchen, while drinking copious amounts of black coffee. I too have a small kitchen, however mine is air conditioned, regardless it met it’s match with the combination of stove top heat, steam from a large pot of boiling water, bubbling brine, and lids simmering. Canning is hot work, but the rewards far outweigh the laundry pile.
For me any kind of cooking is therapeutic, whether it’s the action of kneading dough, chopping ingredients, mixing or stirring, it takes me away. One of my favorite things about canning is listening to that gentle clanking of the jars in the pot as they process. It is the best soundtrack for escape, and the reason I do not use a canning rack in the pot.
Unhappy with the contents of packaged pickling spices, I consulted my Grandmother’s recipe and ventured off on my own. After researching a few different versions, eliminating items I don’t like, such as star anise, this is what I ended up with.
I use a mix of yellow and brown mustard seeds; the brown mustard seeds have a little more bite to them. Just like with the mustard seeds, the peppercorns can be switched up, use black or any combo you prefer. When you make your first batch at least triple it, and let it sit for a week if possible, this allows the fragrances to meld together. After I have used some, I add a single batch to the jar, to maintain the balance, like the feeding of a sourdough starter. Be sure to really break the cinnamon sticks up well, I use a meat mallet to crack them into shards.
This make ahead staple is best stored in an airtight glass jar, Fido glass jars made by Bormioli Rocco are my favorites. Fido jars are very durable, made in Italy, and yes, I have close to 30 of them in a variety of sizes.
1 cinnamon stick, broken into shard like pieces
2 dried bay leaves broken into pieces
4 whole cloves
2 Tbl mustard seed
2 Tbl whole coriander
1 Tbl mixed or black peppercorns
4 whole allspice
2 tsp dill seed
½ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp celery seed
¼ tsp dill weed
Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container, preferably glass.