piccalilliI’m not sure if this one is a recipe or a spelling test.  Generally speaking my spelling is pretty good but I have to look piccalilli up every time I write it.  Once I have made it though I know exactly what to do with it.

Piccalilli is a bit of an English classic even though it is also called Indian Pickle.  It goes wonderfully well with a Ploughman’s Lunch or on a sandwich with thickly cut ham or generous slices of mature cheddar.  In our house it is a Christmas essential alongside all those left over meats and cheeses.  It’s just so bright and cheerful it always brings a smile to my face.

Some people like their piccalilli really chunky so that they can serve it on the side of the plate – I once bought some which had a piece of cauliflower in it that was so big that it took up over half the jar!

I personally prefer it when the vegetables are cut up much smaller so that the pickle is almost spreadable and can be used in sandwiches.  I like to get a bit of each vegetable in every mouthful rather than eat them all separately.


The good thing about making it yourself is that you can have it any way you like – just cook it a little longer if you like it chunky.

There are lots of different recipes for piccalilli; some brine the vegetables, some don’t, some cook the vegetables and others leave them raw.  I like to use the brine phase, it helps to season the pickle but also maintains crispness and retards the growth of bacteria.  Technically, if your vegetables are cut small and soaked in salt water they don’t really need much cooking – just a minute or two or else they lose their crunchiness.  The cooking becomes more important if your vegetables are left in bigger chunks.

Just a word of warning before you start – wear an apron for this one, and old clothes!  You might want to protect your work surfaces too if they are at all porous; turmeric and mustard powder stain like you would not believe.



225g Sea Salt

500g Cauliflower

1 large or 2 medium Courgettes

200g Carrots

150g Fine Green Beans

225g Shallots

1L Distilled Malt Vinegar

175g Caster Sugar

1 Clove Garlic

50g piece of Root Ginger

4 tbsp Cornflour

2 tbsp English Mustard Powder

2 tbsp Ground Turmeric

½ tsp Ground Ginger

½ tsp Dried Chilli Flakes

1 medium-hot red Chilli

NB: All the weights in this recipe refer to the prepared vegetables (e.g. after peeling and slicing).


Day 1

Put the salt into a large bowl and add 2.5 litres of cold water.  Stir until the salt has dissolved.

Slice the cauliflower into small florettes.

Halve the courgette lengthways.  Large courgettes can be a little seedy in the middle, if yours is scoop out this softer section leaving only the firm flesh.  Dice.

Peel and thinly slice the carrots (or dice if the slices are too large).

Top and tail the green beans and cut into 1-2cm lengths.

Peel the shallots and either slice or quarter, depending on the size.

Add all the vegetables to the salted water and stir.  Cover with a plate to keep them submerged and cover the entire bowl with cling film.  Leave in the fridge or another cool place for 24 hours.

Drain the vegetables and rinse well in 2 or 3 changes of cold water.

Reserve 4 tablespoons of vinegar.

Crush the garlic and grate the ginger and put in a large, stainless steel pan (or a preserving pan) along with the remaining vinegar and the caster sugar.  Bring to the boil.

Add the vegetables and cook for two minutes (longer if your vegetables are very chunky), they should be cooked but still crunchy. Strain the vegetables through a colander but make sure to reserve the vinegar!!  Return the vinegar to the pan and bring back to the boil.

Put the cornflour, English mustard powder, ground turmeric, ground ginger and chilli flakes into a bowl.  Mix to a smooth paste with the reserved 4 tbsp vinegar.  Add a little of the hot vinegar mixture to the paste to loosen it, then stir it all back into the hot vinegar pan and bring to the boil, stirring.

Simmer for a couple of minutes until smooth and thick.

De-seed and finely chop the red chilli.  Add to the sauce along with the vegetables.  Stir well then spoon into warm, sterilised jars.  Cover with waxed discs and seal with vinegar-proof lids.

Leave to cool, then store in a cool dark place. The pickle is ready to eat immediately and will keep, unopened, for around 12 months.

Sterilising Jars

Put the jars and lids through a hot, dishwasher cycle.  Put the clean jars on a baking tray in a low oven to dry and stay hot until you are ready to fill them.