This month, I’ve been making a lot of my usual preserves – raspberry jelly, elderflower cordial and the like. One I’ve not made before is piccalilli.
Growing up, a jar of piccalilli was always prominent on the Christmas dinner table. It used to be a staple accompaniment to the roast ham – and the cold meat sandwiches, cheese and pies in the following days.
I found numerous recipes in my collection of cook books; all much the same, with slight variations on the ratios of spices. I’ve made the recipe my own by adding mustard seeds and a couple of chillies for bite and colour.
The preparation takes place over two days – the veg needs to be soaked in salted water (the brine) for 24 hours.
Once that’s done, cooking is a quick 20-minute affair before decanting into jars.
The piccalilli is best left for at least 3 months before using to allow the flavours to develop. That leaves plenty of time before Christmas!
Save my recipe to Pinterest here.
- 1.4kg/3lbs vegetables (I used 800g cauliflower, 300g courgettes, 160g onions, 125g fine beans, 15g red chillies)
- 2l/3½pts water
- 200g/7oz salt
- 1l/1¾pt distilled white vinegar or malt vinegar for pickling
- 140g/5oz Demerara sugar
- 1tbsp mustard seeds
- 1tbsp mustard powder
- 2tsp turmeric
- 1tsp ground ginger
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 1tbsp plain flour
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- Dissolve the salt into the water
- Into a large mixing bowl, cut all the vegetables into even sized pieces
- Pour the salted water (brine) over the vegetables making sure they're all submerged. Weigh them down with a plate and cover the bowl over with a tea towel. Leave to stand for 24 hours
- Drain and put the vegetables into a large pan with the vinegar, sugar and spices. Simmer for 10-20 minutes depending on how soft or crunchy you like your veg
- Using a slotted spoon or ladle, decant the vegetables into hot, sterilised jars (I needed 5 mayonnaise-sized jars)
- Mix the flour into the spiced vinegar and boil for 1 minute before pouring into the jars of vegetables
- Seal the lids tightly on to the jars
- Store in a cool, dry cupboard for at least 3 months before using
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Last week we brought you a sweet, baked redcurrant recipe. This week, some more of our redcurrants are being used in a savoury preserve – spiced redcurrant & red onion relish. We’ve slightly altered a recipe we found on the BBC Good Food website.
We’ve not tried out our relish yet – we’re giving the flavours some time to steep. It’s meant to be really good teamed with a creamy goat’s cheese or charcuterie.
Spiced redcurrant & red onion relish
- 2 medium red onions, peeled & sliced into ½cm square pieces
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried crushed chillies
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 1 small knob of fresh ginger, grated
- 200ml red wine vinegar (I used some of our home-made blackberry vinegar)
- 140g muscovado sugar
- 1tsp Chinese five spice
- 1 tsp salt
- 200g redcurrants, de-stalked
- In a heavy bottomed frying pan, cook the onions and dried crushed chillies in the olive oil over a medium heat until softened
- Remove from the pan and set aside
- Without washing out the pan, add the garlic and ginger with half the vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes
- Add the cooked onion & chilli mix, sugar, Chinese five spice, salt and the remainder of the vinegar
- Bring back up to the boil then simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened
- Add the redcurrants and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until some of them have burst and the liquid has become syrupy
- Remove and pour into a sterilised, 450ml heatproof jar
- Screw the lid on tightly while still hot. Once opened, it keeps in the fridge for up to 3 weeks
This year’s crop of gooseberries has been ever so slightly better than last year’s. We have a gooseberry bush in our back garden and another on our allotment, however both bushes seem to be afflicted by American gooseberry mildew. According to the RHS website, the fruit is still edible, each berry just needs to be given a good rubbing down and a wash – and the bushes need a good prune. It’s a good thing we didn’t have a bumper harvest then!
I went to my trusty vintage Cordon Bleu Preserving book to find some recipes that called for under-ripe (because in all honesty, that’s what they were!) gooseberries. I found recipes for gooseberry jelly with elderflower, gooseberry jam, gooseberry ketchup, gooseberry pickle and gooseberry relish. The pickle recipe was the only one that specifically mentioned unripe berries.
The recipe in my book required 2 pints of gooseberries – a very strange measurement to use – I guess you just fill up a couple of pint glasses! I worked it out at being 2 pints = 1kg. I only managed a paltry 500g of gooseberries so I’ve halved the recipe quantities here. The recipe also included cayenne pepper but we didn’t have any to hand, so I substituted it with an equal quantity of paprika. Once made, the pickle needs to be jarred up and stored away for a good six months. I reckon it would serve as a great accompaniment to fish or cheese board – I’ll report back my findings in December!
- 500g/1 pint gooseberries
- 115g/4oz demerara sugar
- salt (the book doesn't specify quantities so I added 5g/⅕oz)
- 570ml/1 pint white wine vinegar
- 7g/¼oz mustard seeds
- 85g/3oz garlic
- 170g/6oz raisins
- 7g/¼oz ground paprika
- Clean, top and tail the gooseberries and put them in a pan with the sugar, salt and half of the white wine vinegar
- Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and cook until the gooseberries are tender
- In a large heatproof bowl, bruise the mustard seeds, chop & crush the garlic and mix both with the raisins and paprika
- Pour the boiling gooseberries over the mixture and add the other half of the cold vinegar
- Stir before decanting into sterilised Kilner jars
- Immediately screw down the jars and store for at least 6 months before use