Olde English Picccalilli

Olde English Picalilli
© Ann M. Evans, Davis Farmers Market Cookbook, Revised Edition

This classic English relish is made at the end of summer with the last of the cucumbers and green beans and with the green tomatoes from the garden that are not going to ripen as the days get shorter. I can it and serve it with cold meats such as chicken, roast beef or ham, which reminds me of the Ploughman’s lunches I have enjoyed in English pubs. You can also skip the canning step and store the piccalilli in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to 1 month. Let it sit for 24 hours before serving.

You will need 5 to 6 pint canning jars with lids and rings, a large canning kettle with a rack and cover (or a large wide pot with a wire rack and cover) for the water bath, a large, heavy saucepan for cooking the piccalilli, canning tongs, and a ladle.

1 small cauliflower, cut into flowerets
1 pound small white onions
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cucumber, cut into small cubes
3 green tomatoes, cut into small pieces
2 cups green beans, in 1-inch pieces
1 cup coarse salt
8 cups water
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup dry mustard
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
4 cups malt vinegar
¼ cup sugar

  1. In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, white and yellow onions, cucumber, tomatoes, and beans. Dissolve the salt fully in the water and then add the salted water to the vegetables. Cover and chill for 24 hours, turning the vegetables in the brine frequently. Drain the vegetables just before you are ready to begin cooking the piccalilli.
  1. To set up the water bath, fill the canning kettle with water (the water must be deep enough to cover the jars by 1 to 2 inches) and bring to a boil over high heat. If you don’t have a canning kettle, use a large, wide pot and put a wire rack in the bottom of the pot before you fill it with water. Once the water boils, you can turn off the heat and then return it to a boil just before you are ready to put the jars in the kettle.
  1. Meanwhile, wash the canning jars in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Place the jars in a large saucepan, add water to cover generously, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave the jars in the hot water until you are ready to fill them. Fill another saucepan half full with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the canning lids and rings and boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the lids and rings in the hot water until needed.
  1. To prepare the sauce, combine the flour, mustard and turmeric. Add one half-cup vinegar and stir to form a smooth paste. Transfer the paste to a large saucepan, without heat, and add the remaining vinegar gradually. Over medium heat, bring the vinegar to the point of boiling. Add sugar and all of the vegetables. Simmer vegetables for five minutes in the sauce.
  1. While the vegetables are simmering, using tongs, transfer the jars to a work surface. Return the water in the canning kettle to a boil. When the piccalilli is ready, using a large spoon transfer it to the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within ½ inch of the rim. With a clean, damp cloth, wipe the rim of each jar. Place a lid on the rim and then screw on a ring, being careful not to screw it on too tightly. Put the filled jars into the rack of the canner and lower the rack into the boiling water. If you are using a large, wide pot, use the canning tongs to lower the jars onto the rack in the bottom of the pot, making sure the jars do not touch. Return the water to a rolling boil, reduce the heat slightly, cover, and boil for 20 minutes.
  1. Cover a work surface with a folded towel. Using the canning tongs, transfer the jars to the towel, spacing them a few inches apart. As the jars begin to cool, you may hear popping sounds, which is the sound of the lids sealing. The lids should be indented. When the jars are complete cool, after at least 12 hours, check the seal on each jar by pressing on the center of the lid. If it remains indented, the seal is good. If it does not, refrigerated the jar and use the piccalilli within 1 month.
  1. Label the jars with the contents and date and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.

Makes 5 pints