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Spiced Mustard Pickle (Piccalilli)

I love autumn and one of the things I love most about it is that it's the time to make some pickles to have at Christmas, to serve with cold cuts. Good piccalilli is something you can't buy factory-made – it's never really successful. So, why not make your own? It's also lovely with sharp English cheeses and perhaps, best of all, with a fresh, crusty pork pie. To sterilise the jar, wash it thoroughly in warm soapy water, rinse and heat in a moderate oven for 5 minutes.

 Spiced Mustard Pickle (Piccalilli)

  Makes seven 1 lb (350 ml capacity) jars and one ½ lb (175 ml capacity) jar

 2 oz (50 g) dry mustard powder
 ½ whole nutmeg, grated
 ½ level teaspoon ground allspice
 1 oz (25 g) ground turmeric
 2 medium cauliflowers, divided into 1 inch (2.5 cm) florets
 1 lb (450 g) small pickling onions, peeled and halved, through the root
 2 small cucumbers (each weighing 9 oz/250 g), peeled, cut into ¼ inch (5 mm) rounds, then each round quartered
 1 lb (450 g) dwarf green beans, topped and tailed and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) lengths (or 1 lb/450 g runner beans, destringed and cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm diagonal slices)
 4 oz (110 g) sea salt
 2 pints (1.2 litres) malt vinegar, plus 5 extra tablespoons
 6 oz (175 g) golden caster sugar
 2 cloves garlic, crushed with 3 teaspoons salt
 1 level dessertspoon fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
 1 oz (25 g) sauce flour
Oven temperatures and Conversions
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You will also need a preserving pan, or a heavy-based saucepan with a capacity of 8¾ pints (5 litres); and seven 1 lb (350 ml capacity) jars and one ½ lb (175 ml capacity) jar, all with glass or plastic lids (vinegar corrodes metal) and all sterilised as

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Three. It has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (Oct 2001).


You need to begin this the day before. What you do is place the prepared cauliflower and onions in a non-metallic bowl, and the cucumbers and beans in another. Then whisk the salt into 4 pints (2.25 litres) of cold water to make a brine, and pour this over the vegetables. Now put a plate with a weight on it on top of each one to keep them submerged and leave them for 24 hours.

The next day, drain away the salt water and briefly rinse the vegetables. Now place the cauliflower, onions and the 2 pints (1.2 litres) vinegar together in the pan. Then add the nutmeg and allspice, bring it up to the boil, cover and simmer for 8 minutes. Next, take off the lid and stir in the cucumbers, beans, sugar, garlic and ginger. Now bring the mixture up to simmering point again, cover and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. The vegetables should still be slightly crisp, so don't go away and forget them.

Next, set a large colander over a large bowl, pour the contents of the pan into it and leave it all to drain, reserving the vinegar. Then mix the mustard powder, turmeric and flour together in another bowl. Gradually work in the additional tablespoons of vinegar and 2 tablespoons water so the mixture becomes a fairly smooth paste. Now add a ladleful of the hot vinegar liquid drained from the vegetables, stir again and transfer the sauce mixture to a saucepan.

Bring it to the boil, gradually whisking in the remaining hot vinegar. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes, then transfer the vegetables from the colander back to the large bowl, and pour over the sauce. Stir really well now to mix everything evenly, then spoon the piccalilli into the hot, sterilised jars. Cover straightaway with waxed discs, seal with vinegar-proof lids and when cold, label and store the piccalilli in a cool, dry, dark place to mellow for 3 months before eating.


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