Christmas Piccalilli

What better accompaniment to cold meats than piccalilli. A mixture of chopped vegetables and hot spices.

Although the name first appeared in the 18th century, there is no clear origin for it.

Rumour has it; it was Napoleon's cook who put it together when he didn't have any sauce to add to a dish. Another is that its roots lay in India; after all one of the main ingredients was the cucumber which was first grown somewhere between the Bay of Bengal and the Himalayas.

Another important ingredient in this pickle is Turmeric which again probably originated from western India, and has been used there since the 1500's. So I'm rather more for the Indian story.
Piccalilli is best left to mature for about 2 -3 months; this allows all the ingredients to fully fuse together, so now is the ideal time to make it for Christmas.

I usually make about 10 jars and give them out as Christmas presents. This tangy mustard coloured pickle looks great in glass jars. Just finish it off with some red or green ribbon, tied around the neck of the jars and label them, or use glass paints to decorate. Kids love doing this part.

What you'll need:

10×1lb jars (pickling/mason jars)

Allow about 2 hours to prepare the vegetables and approx 18 minutes cooking time.
Wash the jars in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly or put in dishwasher if possible.
Heat the oven to 325ºF/170ºC/gas mark 3 and put the jars in the oven for 10 minutes to sterilise.


1 Large marrow, peeled, deseeded and chopped into bite size pieces

3 Medium cauliflowers-cut into 1 inch/2.5cm florets

1 Large cucumber-peeled and cut into 1/2inch/1.2cm rounds then quartered. 1lb/450g Runner Beans-top and tail-slice off the sides where the stringy bits are and cut into 1 inch/2.5cm pieces

2lb/400g approx Shallots

1 Whole nutmeg or 3 tsps of ground

1 tsp Allspice

4oz/100g Mustard powder 2oz/50g Turmeric 12 Tbsp Plain (All purpose) flour

1 1/2lb/700g Caster sugar

6 Cloves garlic (medium)

6 Tsp sea salt

4 Pints/2.4 litres Malt Vinegar

Extra 10 tbsp Malt vinegar

6-8 Tbsp water

Put the cauliflower, onions and 4 pints/2.4 litres vinegar into a large saucepan. Add the nutmeg and allspice and bring to the boil.
Cover and simmer for 6-8 minutes (depending on the crunch factor).
Meanwhile crush the garlic into the salt using a pestle and mortar.
Stir in the chopped cucumber, beans and sugar.
Now add the garlic/salt mixture.
Bring up to a simmer and cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
Check regularly.
Using a large colander, strain off the vegetables-reserving the liquid.
Mix together the flour, mustard powder and turmeric in a separate bowl.
Slowly add the extra vinegar and water and mix to a smooth paste.
Next add a ladle full of hot vinegar, drained from the vegetables, then transfer the mix to a large saucepan. Using an electric blender or balloon whisk gradually add the rest of the hot vinegar.
Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 4-5 minutes. Pour the liquid over the vegetables and stir thoroughly.

Ladle into the hot jars and seal.

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