Classic Piccalilli (British Pickled Veggies)

Classic Piccalilli (British Pickled Veggies)

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 24 hrs
Cook: 40 mins
Brine: 24 hrs
Total: 48 hrs 40 mins
Yields: 2 to 3 jars

Although piccalilli is one of Britain's favorite pickled dishes, surprisingly, its origins remain something of a mystery. Perhaps due to its international influences and many variations in former English and Dutch colonies, this yellow dollop of veggies and spices is a must for buffet tables, plates of cooked ham, cold beef, and the famous Ploughman's lunch. It's easy to make and will keep for several months in sealed jars.

Measuring the ingredients with a kitchen scale will ensure the best results and maintain a balanced flavor.

Ingredients

  • For the Brine:
  • 130 grams table salt
  • 7 cups water (cold)
  • 300 grams cauliflower florets
  • 225 grams pearl onions (peeled)
  • 225 grams cucumber (seedless; cut into large chunks)
  • 2 teaspoons capers (in brine; drained and well-rinsed)
  • For the Spiced Vinegar:
  • 7 fluid ounces dark malt vinegar
  • 7 fluid ounces white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 56 grams caster sugar
  • For the Pickling:
  • 56 grams butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • Black pepper (to taste)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this piccalilli is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and pickling.

Make the Brine

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe - brine ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a bowl large enough to hold the water and all of the vegetables, dissolve the salt in the water.

    salt and water in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add the cauliflower, pearl onions, cucumber, and capers. Stir.

    cauliflower, pearl onions, cucumber, and capers in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Put a plate on the vegetables to make sure they stay submerged in the brine.

    plate on top of the vegetables to keep them submerged

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

    plastic wrap covering the bowl with the vegetables

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Make the Spiced Vinegar

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe - spiced vinegar ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a large stainless steel pan, place the dark malt vinegar, white wine vinegar, pickling spice, and sugar. Bring to a boil.

    dark malt vinegar, white wine vinegar, pickling spice, and sugar in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes.

    vinegar and spice mixture cooking in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Transfer to a ceramic bowl and leave to cool overnight in the fridge.

    brine in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Pickle the Vegetables

  1. Gather the ingredients and remove the brined vegetables and spiced vinegar from the fridge.

    ingredients to pickle vegetables

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Drain and rinse the vegetables well.

    vegetables in a colander

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. In a large pot, place the rinsed vegetables. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.

    vegetables cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

    vegetables cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Drain the water and reserve the veggies.

    cooked vegetables in a colander

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. In a pan, melt the butter and add the flour, stirring thoroughly to avoid clumping.

    roux in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, being careful not to burn the flour.

    cook the roux in the saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Strain the spiced vinegar.

    strained spice vinegar

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Slowly add the vinegar to the butter and flour. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.

    add vinegar to the roux in the saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Add the turmeric, mustard powder, and black pepper while stirring well. You now should have a brightly colored, thick sauce.

    Add turmeric, mustard powder, and black pepper to the mixture in the saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  11. Pour the thick sauce over the drained vegetables and stir well, making sure all the vegetables are coated in the sauce.

    combine the vegetables with the spice mixture

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  12. Pour into sterilized clamp jars and seal. Preferably, wait at least 1 week before opening to allow the flavors to intensify.

    pour the spiced vegetables into a jar, Classic Piccalilli (British Pickled Veggies)

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

How to Store

  • Once opened, the jars must be kept in the refrigerator.
  • Unopened jars will keep for at least 6 months in a dark, cool place.

Add Piccalilli To Your Recipes

Piccalilli is usually used as a side dish and to complement cold dishes, but it can also be added into other recipes:

  • Omelets: Add a spoonful of piccalilli per each egg you're using in your omelet. Chop and sautee spinach, kale, or mustard greens; add the egg mixture, and grate some cheese like feta or ricotta for an out-of-this-world lunch.
  • Savory Muffins: Add a spoonful of piccalilli per cup of batter to your savory muffin recipe (try our cheddar cheese muffin). If the batter seems too runny, add spoonfuls of flour, one at a time, until the batter seems good enough to bake.
  • Meatballs: Add 1/2 cup of piccalilli per 1/2 pound of meat. Because the pickled veggies bring moisture into the mix, have some bread crumbs at hand, and add one handful at a time until the texture seems right to roll the meatballs.
  • Empanadas: Make empanadas from scratch adding 1 spoonful of piccalilli per cup of stuffing.