Spiced vinegar is needed for many recipes and this may be prepared at the same time as the recipe, or up to a month beforehand so that the vinegar is more fully-flavoured with the spices. Allow ½ oz/15g cinnamon stick, ½ oz/15g blade mace, ½oz/15g allspice berries, ¼oz/8g peppercorns, ¼oz/8g whole cloves to each 4 pints/2 litres vinegar. Tie the spices in a piece of muslin and suspend in a pan with the vinegar. Bring slowly to simmering point with a lid on so that no flavour is lost. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for about 3 hours before use, or keep in a covered jar in a cold place for a month. Strain and use hot or cold as required. Cold vinegar keeps pickles crisp when made with uncooked vegetables.