The combination of a vegetable (or fruit), a vinegar and pickling spice comprise the pickler's palette. But it is perhaps the pickling spice-the unique and flavorful mix of herbs and spices added to the brine-that plays the most creative and distinctive role. Pickling spice is a bit like barbecue sauce; everyone has a personal style and preference of taste. You can purchase pickling spice blends at the store or make your own. For an aromatic approach, you might include as many as 6 or 8 spices-such as whole allspice, peppercorns, dill and mustard seeds and bay leaves. Try experimenting with different flavor profiles, and be sure to note all of the combinations you try. Whatever aromatic notes you find appealing, increase; those that seem as if they are interfering, decrease. This recipe is a good starting point.
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