A Homemade Christmas: Piccalilli


As Christmas is less than two weeks away, A Crust Eaten will be getting in the Christmas spirit this week with some incredible edibles you can make to share or gift this holiday season. There are a couple of things I make each year, chocolate chip cookies and lemon curd come to mind, but this year I wanted to try something new.

Piccalilli, Paco-Lilla or India Pickle has been made in Britain since the mid 18th century  and served alongside cold meats, pies and strong cheeses. Tangy and strongly flavored with turmeric and mustard, it’s not for the faint-hearted, but served with something that can hold its own, like an aged cheddar or peppery pork pie, it is just the right thing to cut through the richness.

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I took inspiration and instruction from two recipes, one from Jamie Oliver and one from River Cottage. Both had elements which sounded right to me, but as I hadn’t ever made piccalilli before it was all a bit of a leap of faith! It needs to sit around for at least three to four weeks before you can dig in, so I can’t report on the success of this venture just yet. But it looks pretty darn good in the half-size Kilner jars I’ve canned it in and I hope it’ll bring some British Yuletide joy to whomever I give it to.

Bon appetit!


Postscript: I’ve since had comments from recipients of this curried vegetable delight and can report that it is a resounding success! Having never actually tasted piccalilli, I have been reliably informed that this is not piccalilli in the true sense. It might be more comfortable being named curried pickled vegetables. But whatever you call it, it tastes good with cheese – or on it’s own apparently! – and everyone loves it!

Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Piccalilli and Pam’s Piccalilli from River Cottage

Makes 4L

One month and one night before

1/2 head of Cauliflower, cut into small florets

1 head Broccoli, cut into small florets

2 bulbs Fennel, cut into 2″ pieces

200g Green Beans, trimmed to 2″ pieces

200g Runner Beans, trimmed to 2″ pieces

6-10 Shallots, quartered if small or cut into eighths if large

1 Red Onion, roughly chopped

2-4 Red and Green Chillies, finely diced

100g fine Sea Salt

One month before

1 Tbsp Mustard Seeds

1-2 Tbsp English Mustard Powder

2 Tbsp Turmeric

2 Tbsp Ground Cumin

Ground Nutmeg (fresh if possible), to taste

4 Tbsp Flour

500ml White Wine Vinegar

100ml Water

2 Mangoes, roughly chopped

2 thumbs’ worth of fresh Ginger, grated

3 cloves Garlic, pressed

6 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp dried Oregano

2-4 Bay Leaves

One month and one night before

1. Put all the vegetables into one or two colanders each set over a bowl and sprinkle over the fine sea salt. Toss to combine, cover with a towel and let the vegetables sit overnight in a cool place.

2. Rinse all the vegetables well and set aside.

One month before

1. Add 1Tbsp oil to a pan large enough to hold all the vegetables and set over medium heat. #

2. Add mustard seeds, mustard powder, turmeric, cumin and nutmeg and stir being careful not to let the spices burn.

3. Add the flour and stir into a thick paste.

4. Add a splash of vinegar to loosen the paste and then gradually add the water and remaining vinegar, whisking as you go until it is all combined.

5. Add the mangoes, ginger, garlic, sugar, oregano and bay leaves and cook for a couple minutes.

6. Add the rinsed and drained vegetables and toss to cover in the sauce. Cook for 10-15 minutes until just beginning to soften, but before they start losing their vibrancy.

7. Spoon into sterilized jars, making sure to wipe mouths of jars clean before sealing. Leave standing upright overnight to form a vacuum seal.

8. Leave in a cool dark place for 3-4 weeks, then enjoy with cheese or a pie!