I made piccalilli yesterday and somebody asked for the recipe, so here goes:

My piccalilli recipe is based on Gary Rhodes’ version from his New British Classics, although my version has evolved a little over the years. I put rather less sugar in than he suggests, and to be honest, it would probably do no harm to reduce it further. The actual vegetable ingredients can easily be varied depending on what you happen to have lying around. I’d class the cauliflower and onions as essentials, but the cucumber is optional, and I sometimes add other things – red pepper is a nice addition, for example.

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 3 large onions
  • 8 large shallots
  • 1 cucumber
  • 600ml white wine or cider vinegar
  • 300ml white malt vinegar
  • 1 tsp chopped dried red chilli
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 50g English mustard powder
  • 25g ground turmeric
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • salt and pepper

Cut the cauliflower into small florets, and chop the onions and shallots into 1cm dice. Gary Rhodes then salts these and leaves them to stand for 24 hours, before rinsing and drying them. I have done that in the past, but I’ve found little difference in the result if I skip that step.

Peel and de-seed the cucumber, and cut into 1cm dice. Sprinkle with a little salt and leave for a quarter of an hour. Rinse and dry, then add to the other vegetables.

Put the vinegars into a pan, together with the chilli and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and leave to stand for thirty minutes, and then strain and discard the chilli.

When the vinegar is cool, mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and add a little of the vinegar and mix until you have a thin paste. Bring the rest of the vinegar back to the boil and pour it into the sugar/spice paste and stir well. Stir well until well mixed together with no lumps. Return to the pan and simmer for about three minutes. Pour over the vegetables and mix well.

Stored in sterilised jars in a cool place, this should easily keep for a month or two.

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