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Saturday, March 5, 2011

How to Make your own Pickling Spice (+ Crushed Red Chiles)

How to Make your own Pickling Spice
I have an incredibly well-stocked spice cupboard.  And for that I am grateful.  If I don't have a particular spice blend, I can usually make it myself...which is fantastic, because it allows for more control anyway.  One thing we use an awful lot of in our house is crushed red chiles (particularly my better half). But I do use my fair share.  It seems that every time some sort of food is plated up, he's hunting down the shaker.  So we need to replenish more often than it's feasible to run to the market.  Fortunately, we also try to keep a pretty good selection of whole, dried chiles around the house, so it's a cinch to pull the stems from some and throw them in the spice grinder for a quick whirl.

Make your own crushed red peppers aka crushed red pepper flakes or crushed red chiles
Although you can choose any type you like, I recommend using some that are thoroughly dry.  I like to use the more pliable, leathery type for making sauces and salsas and toasting.  But it makes for a sticky spice grinder.  Although, if you only have "fresher" ones, toast them first so that any hint of moisture is lost.

I usually go with Chiles de Arbol in this application. From there, it's easy. Pull of their stems and pack as many as you can into the spice grinder. Pulse it a few times. Just until they're chopped into irregular pieces. Yes, leave the seeds in. Yes, just pulse a few times. Repeat until you have as many as you need.

Also, if you want to make your own pure chile powder, first remove the seeds and (preferably) toast your chiles to bring out a deeper, richer, sweeter flavor, then grind into a powder.  Nope, it's not rocket science.
Make your own crushed red peppers aka crushed red pepper flakes or crushed red chiles
What else can you make with a well-stocked spice cupboard? Well, your own Pickling Spice is a good start. I'm currently pickling a beef brisket for my own Corned Beef and I needed some, so I turned to the one in Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman (although there are many other variations out there, if you so choose). Right about now is when those crushed red chiles come in real handy.
How to Make your own Pickling Spice

Homemade Pickling Spice
A well-stocked pantry makes it easy to throw together a batch of homemade pickling spice (or is it the other way around).
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by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Keywords: condiment herbs spice

Ingredients (approx. 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red chiles
  • 2 tablespoons whole allspice berries
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoons ground mace
  • 24 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
Lightly toast the first three ingredients in a small dry pan, then smash with the side of a knife to crack them or slide them into a paper sack (like a brown lunch bag) and then roll over them with a rolling pin a few times.

Combine cracked spices with remaining ingredients, mixing well. Store in a tightly sealed plastic container or glass jar.
How to Make your own Pickling Spice
What's in your spice cupboard/rack/cabinet? Do you prefer to make your own spice blends or buy them pre-made? Do you find that you never have the ones you need when the time comes...or so many you can't find the ones you want? Though you just know they're in there somewhere...