Piccalilli

Piccalilli started life in India – the English brought the idea back to England and adapted it to what we know today. When you look at the ingredients, you can see the Indian influence in spices such as turmeric. A lot of recipes ask you to sprinkle the vegetables with salt and leave overnight, but this is a quick version, as I’m sure you have other things you could be doing. A trainee chef once shared her secret, which was to serve piccalilli with a spoonful of yogurt, genius when you think about it as it helps to temper the mustard and give a more mellow flavour. You will need to have some sterilised jars, which is quite easy to do: wash some jars and lids in hot soapy water and then let them dry in an oven at 140°C/fan 120°C/gas mark 1. Make sure you add the pickle to the jars while it and the jars are both still quite hot, as this creates a vacuum at the top of the jar; that’s why you get a pop when you open a new jar of jam. Allocate yourself a good amount of time for this recipe, as it’s a bit fiddly.
With a bit of imagination, you can twist this recipe quite easily. Try adding honey, thyme, garlic, cabbage, carrot, horseradish, celery …
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MAKES 3–4 X 450G JARS
450g little pickling onions, peeled
1 large cauliflower, broken into florets
450g green beans, topped, tailed and halved
1 cucumber, halved lengthways and deseeded
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into 2cm (¾in) chunks
1 large head of broccoli, broken into florets
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 small red chilli, chopped, with its seeds
750ml white malt vinegar
180g granulated sugar, plus more if needed
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp ground cumin (see the Indian influence coming in …)
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp English mustard powder (… and now the English touch)
3 tbsp cornflour
sea salt
You should have your vegetables, apples and chilli prepared as detailed in the ingredients list. Take a large pan, pour in the vinegar, then add the sugar and bay leaves.
Now, you are just blanching everything at this stage as you want your pickle to have a bit of a crunch at the end. Bring the vinegar to the boil and drop in the vegetables, apples and chilli (you may have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your pan). Return the vinegar to the boil, then immediately remove the vegetables and so on with a slotted spoon and leave them on a plate or a tray to cool. They don’t have to cool completely, just let them hang around.
Remove the bay leaves. Now add the spices and mustard to the vinegar. Using a balloon whisk, blend all these in, making sure there are no lumps.
Mix the cornflour in a bowl with a little water until it is runny, then return the vinegar to the boil and whisk in the cornflour well to make sure no lumps form. Let it simmer for 20 seconds to cook the cornflour, stirring occasionally to make sure it all stays smooth, then turn the heat off.
Next, return the vegetables, apples and chilli to the pan and season with salt. At this stage, taste the piccalilli, make sure it is seasoned well and, if it is too sharp for you, add a shot of sugar.
Leave the pickle to cool for 5 minutes, then carefully place in the dried-but-warm jars. As soon as the piccalilli is in the jars, screw the lids on.
Allow to cool. Some say the flavours improve with time, but you be the judge of that. You can keep it for 8 weeks in a cool, dark place.