Saturday, 13 December 2008


Piccalilli is a variety of pickle or relish that first appeared in the UK around the middle of the 18th Century, often going by the name of Piccalillo or Indian Pickle. It is a tangy, chunky pickle, made bright yellow with the addition of mustard & turmeric, and is an excellent accompaniment to bread & cheese, sandwiches & cold meats.
And it's very easy to make.

Since MikeyFox was stuck at home with a bad back, it seemed like a good time to introduce him to the noble art of preserving, so we made Piccalilli.

Piccalilli takes a bit of time & planning, and you'll need to get started the night before. You will need...

1 small cauliflower, broken into small florets (not too small, it's a chunky pickle after all)
1 courgette, split in half lengthways & chopped (any curcubit will do, though. Half a cucumber, deseeded & chopped is good. Or marrow, again deseeded & chopped*.)
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
50g fine sea salt

Place all your chopped veggies in a colander or a large bowl & cover with the salt. Give everything a stir, cover & leave in a cool place overnight (or 24 hours if possible). The salt will draw out moisture from the veggies (so if you are using a colander, place it in a bowl), so when they are cooked, they will remain firm & crunchy. Yum.

The next day, marvel at how much water has come out of the veg. Then discard. Sorry, salty veggie water. Give your veggies a quick rinse with cold water & pat dry.
If you don't have a big preserving pan, any large stainless steel pan will work fine. Into the pan goes
500ml cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
250g sugar
2 tsp yellow mustard powder
1 tsp turmeric (to make it Yellow!)
1/2 tsp each of ground ginger, cumin seeds, yellow mustard seeds, chilli flakes & grated nutmeg.
Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat & bring to the boil. Add the vegetables, and some fresh ground pepper (as much or as little as you want). Bring to the boil & then reduce the heat & simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
While the Piccalilli is simmering, you'll need to do one more thing. You'll need
2 tbs cornflour
Place in a small bowl & add a little of the cooking liquid from the pan & stir until you have a smooth paste. This is to thicken up the piccalilli liquid. So at the end of the 10 minutes of simmering, remove the pan from the heat & add the cornflour paste. Stir & return to the heat, bring it to the boil & simmer for 5 minutes. The liquid will thicken up & coat the still-crunchy vegetables.
Spoon into warm, sterilised jars & seal. If you can bear to leave it be for a month, all the flavours will mellow & mature, and it will be delicious. If you can't, that's okay too. It will still be delicious.
Om Nom Nom!

*It's nothing personal, seedy bits. You're just soggy and tasteless is all.

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