Classic Piccalilli (British Pickled Veggies)

Piccalilli

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  • Total: 24 hrs 40 mins
  • Prep: 24 hrs
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: 2-3 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.

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 and 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 spices
  • 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 dish 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
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  2. Dissolve the salt in the water in a bowl large enough to hold the water and all the vegetables.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Add all the vegetables and capers and stir.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Put a plate on the vegetables to make sure they stay submerged in the brine.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
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  5. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for 24 hours.

Make the Spiced Vinegar

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe - spiced vinegar ingredients
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  2. Place the two kinds of vinegar, pickling spice, and sugar into a large stainless steel pan and bring to a boil.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
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  3. Reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Transfer to a ceramic bowl and leave to cool overnight in the fridge.

Pickle the Vegetables

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe ingredients
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  2. Once 24 hours have passed, remove the brine and vegetables from the fridge. Drain and rinse the vegetables well.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
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  3. Place the rinsed vegetables into a pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil.

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

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
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  5. Drain the water and reserve the veggies.

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

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

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
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  8. Strain the spiced vinegar and slowly add it to the butter and flour. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.

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

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
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  10. Pour the thick sauce over the drained vegetables and stir well, making sure all the vegetables are coated in the sauce.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
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  11. Pour into sterilized clamp jars and seal.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
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  12. Preferably wait at least one week before opening to allow flavors to intensify. Once opened, the jars must be kept in the refrigerator. Unopened jars will keep for at least six months in a dark, cool place.

  13. Enjoy with cold dishes, sandwiches, or use as a side dish for summer lunches and picnics.

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 of 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.
Classic Piccalilli Recipe
 The Spruce