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Making Vegetable Pickles

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 22 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Vegetable Pickles Pickling Piccalilli

You can pickle almost anything from the vegetable patch. It’s a brilliant way to store many crops, from shallots to beetroot and even cabbage and marrow. Here are some great ideas for vegetable pickles:

Spicy Pumpkin Chutney- a pickle made with brown sugar, steamed pumpkin, and red chillies, native to the Caribbean
Sauerkraut - white cabbage pickled in its own brine, traditionally made in an earthenware jar and served with grilled sausages
Balsamic Beets - baby beetroot pickled in a mixture of distilled and balsamic vinegar, sweetened with a little brown sugar and served with cheeses

Piccalilli – the Classic Vegetable Pickle

Think of it as ‘allotment pickle’. This clever concoction will use up all those extra cauliflowers and overgrown courgettes that you have lying around. The vegetables in this pickle are cooked for a minimal time, ensuring that they stay nice and crunchy.

We Brits have been pickling vegetables for centuries. Our favourites are onions, gherkins and cauliflower – elsewhere in Europe, beets and cabbage are the favourite picklers. The very first Piccalilli recipe was recorded in 1772, and it featured vegetables including radish pods and kidney beans as well as the immovable cauliflower and marrow. The Indian spicing included turmeric, which gave the pickle its trademark yellow colour.

Piccalilli Recipe

This is a very useful vegetable pickle recipe. It’s extremely adaptable – you can put in all and any vegetables that you like. Cauliflower and marrow form the basis for traditional Piccalilli, but don’t feel bound by this: swap vegetables according to your own taste (and crops). You can even add chopped fruit to this pickle, if you like.

You need:
  • Table salt
  • 2 medium cauliflowers
  • 2 1/2 lb vegetables – choose from shallots, cucumber, runner beans, green pepper, and chopped courgette or marrow
  • 2 pints malt vinegar
  • ½ tbsp turmeric
  • ½ tbsp mustard (the powdered type)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 6oz brown sugar

Piccalilli should be started the night before you want to make it. Get out a large, clean bowl and start layering the vegetables with salt. Break the cauliflower into bite-sized florets and put into the bowl; sprinkle the layer with salt and continue. Peel shallots and put them in whole; slice runner beans, and deseed cucumbers and marrows before chopping into cubes. Keep making layers, sprinkling generously with salt (it will be rinsed off the next day). When you have finished salting all the vegetables, put a plate on the top and weight it with some tins of beans. Leave overnight.

You will need a large, stainless steel or nonreactive pan to cook the Piccalilli. Measure the vinegar and remove 2-3 tablespoons to a cup. Stir the spices and cornflour into the cup of vinegar and set aside. Put the remaining vinegar and sugar into a very large saucepan and slowly bring the mixture to the boil, swirling the pan a bit to help dissolve the sugar. Now add the vegetables and boil for about 15 minutes – the vegetables should still be slightly crunchy, and the mixture thickened suitably (if not, continue cooking). Put the pickle into sterilised jars, and let cool completely before labelling.

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