Classic Piccalilli

Piccalilli recipe

  The Spruce

Ratings (25)
  • Total: 24 hrs 40 mins
  • Prep: 24 hrs
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: 2-3 jars

Despite Piccalilli being one of Britain's favorite pickles, it is surprising that its origins, or the original Piccalilli recipe, remain something of a mystery. There's no doubt it is connected to the Indian sub-continent; some sources say Piccalilli was also known as Indian Pickle, and the Indian pickle Achar is similar also made with mustard, vinegar, and salt and shares the same yellow color.
Whatever its origins it's a British food favorite and no cooked ham, cold beef, Ploughman's lunch or buffet table is complete without a bight yellow dollop. It is easy to make and will keep for several months in sealed jars.

Ingredients

  • For the Brine
  • 4 1/2 ounces table salt
  • 3 1/2 pints water (cold)
  • 10 1/2 ounces cauliflower florets
  • 8 ounces pearl onions (peeled)
  • 8 ounces cucumber (de-seeded 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
  • 2 ounces caster sugar
  • For the Pickling
  • 2 ounces 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
     The Spruce
  2. In a bowl large enough to hold the water and all the vegetables, dissolve the salt in the water.

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

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

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  5. Cover and keep in the fridge for 24 hours.

Make the Spiced Vinegar

  1. Gather the ingredients.

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

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

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Leave to cool overnight in the fridge.

Pickle the Vegetables

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. The next day, remove the brine and vegetables from the fridge; drain and rinse the vegetables well.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Place the rinsed vegetables into a pan, cover with cold water, then bring to the boil.

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

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  5. Drain and leave to one side.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  6. In another pan, melt the butter, then add the flour and stir thoroughly.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  7. Cook gently for 5 minutes taking care not to burn the flour.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  8. Strain the spiced vinegar and slowly add to the butter and flour, cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened.

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

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  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
     The Spruce
  11. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce
  12. Keep for at least one week before opening (preferably longer but the temptation to try it may be too strong).

    Classic Piccalilli Recipe
     The Spruce

    Kitchen Notes

  13. Once opened the jars must be kept in the refrigerator, unopened the jars will keep for at least six months in a dark, cool place.