FoodSauces and Condiments

Piccalilli Is A Curious, Luminous, Distinctly Delicious Pickle Relish

The first thing you’ll notice about piccalilli is the colour. But the flavour is what you’ll remember long after your stained fingers have returned to normal. Made up of chopped vegetables and spices, piccalilli is delightfully tart, with a distinctive psychedelic, electric yellow colour, brought to life by the turmeric in the sauce. It’s normally served as an accompaniment to meat, sausage, ham and cheese dishes. Especially cheese. Piccalilli is the sweet-sharp contrast that chutney has always tried to be, but better. Which is why it’s often a front-row ingredient in a Ploughman’s Lunch, which is made up of cold meat, bread, cheese, onions and pickles.

Piccalilli first originated in 18th century England, being a mixture of spices from Indian pickles that were adapted to suit the more conservative English taste. Although the colour never changes, different variety of pickles have become popular, some with cucumber, some with green peppers and some with gherkins. Hopefully this one is easy enough for you to make on a regular basis. Your cheese and crackers will never be the same.


Servings: 5 cups   Time: 35 mins   Difficulty: Easy 


  • 400g cauliflower florets
  • 1 bulb fennel, roughly chopped
  • 150g fine green beans, cut into short lengths
  • 200g shallots/spring onions, cut into eighths
  • 2 red chillies, chopped into rounds
  • 1½ cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 150g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
  • 2½ tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened


  1. Bring all the ingredients, with the exception of the vegetables, butter, flour and mustard, to the boil
  2. Simmer for 5 minutes
  3. Add the vegetables and chilli in small batches
  4. Cook ingredients for about 4 minutes, until vegetables are tender, but still slightly crunchy
  5. Remove the vegetables from the liquid and set aside
  6. Mix the flour and butter to make a paste
  7. Add to the pickling liquid and whisk until the liquid has thickened
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the mustard
  9. Place vegetables in sterilised bottles
  10. Pour the liquid over the vegetables and seal bottles
  11. Place in a dark cupboard for at least 1 month to allow the flavours to mellow and develop

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