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How to Make Piccalilli

Piccalilli is a favourite British relish. Its essential ingredients are cauliflower and mustard but you can add almost any other vegetable to get the texture and flavour that you like. I recall one customer who came into Blighty's Tuck Store looking for piccalilli. "Certainly sir" I said, "we have Heinz Piccalilli right here on the shelf."

"No, I want real Piccalilli" he said. "I'm sorry but I don't understand" I replied. "Crosse and Blackwell Piccalilli" he went on, "Heinz leaves stuff out; it says Picalilli on the label but it isn't the real stuff."

I tell that story to illustrate the point that piccalilli can vary widely and no two brands (or home-made varieties) taste the same. I made some recently; here is how I did it:

  • About 4 cups of diced veggies. Cauliflower is essential but you should also add a selection of onion, cucumber, rutabaga and whatever else you have to hand
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 1 jar Colmans Prepared English Mustard
  • Turmeric, black pepper, ground ginger, allspice
  • Plenty of salt
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Spread all the diced veggies, except the onion, in a shallow dish. Cover generously with salt and leave for 24 hours
  • Drain the veggies but do not rinse them
  • Add the onions to the mix
  • Melt a little butter in a pan and stir in a tablespoon of flour. Stir in the white vinegar, Colmans Mustard and the spices and boil for a few minutes to make a spiced mustard sauce. If you prefer sweet piccalilli, now is the time to add sugar to taste
  • Pour the sauce over the veggies, stir to mix thoroughly then place in airtight jars for at least two weeks

John's Notes
Your choice of spices and the quantities you use will stamp your personal brand on the flavour of your piccalilli. I like my piccalilli a little spicy so I used Colmans Prepared English Mustard. You could substitute sweet Canadian mustard if you prefer a milder flavour.

Incidentally, no-one knows for sure where the name "piccalilli" came from. Even fewer people can spell it correctly!

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1 comment:

  1. I was charmed by the name and idea of this product and so I bought some at the grocery store, but have NO idea how to use it; that is to say, I really would rather use it as an ingredient in a complete dinner entree rather than simply as a condiment. I've looked and looked for recipes that use piccalilli as a cooking ingredient, but I find nothing. Is piccalilli NEVER used in this manner and only ever as a condiment?!