You can find pickling spice at most grocery stores—McCormick and other companies offer their versions—but this pickling spice, based on a recipe from Brian Polcyn, my Charcuterie coauthor, is far superior. It’s a similar profile but much more flavorful, like the difference between the Beatles’ version of “Eight Days a Week” and a Muzak version. Store it in your refrigerator and it keeps for months.
Toast the peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, allspice berries, and cloves in a dry pan over high heat for a minute, just till they smell fragrant (be careful not to burn them). Crack them beneath a sauté pan or chop with a knife. Transfer them to a small jar or zip-top plastic bag and add the red pepper flakes, mace, ginger, cinnamon, and bay leaves; mix well. Store in the refrigerator to use as needed.
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