Thursday, 5 January 2012

Picalilli Paradise!

One of the gifts for my husband for Christmas this year was one of his favourite pickled condiments - picalilli!  Now I never heard of picallili before I moved to Britain, and it might just be a uniquely British food.  It's a yellow mustardy pickley thing sort of like a chutney that you can eat with breads and cheeses, given its bright yellow colour because of the tumeric it's made with.  I thought I'd give it a try and surprise my husband (who is a much better cook than I am, so is difficult to please in the kitchen!)

I used a mixture of a bunch of different recipes (as I tend to do - maybe that is why my husband is such a better cook than I am?), but here is one of the ones I drew from:

  • 2kg washed, peeled vegetables - select 5 or 6 from the following: cauliflower or romanesco cauliflower, radish, green beans, cucumbers, courgettes, green or yellow tomatoes, tomatilloes, carrots, small silver-skinned onions or shallots, peppers, nasturtium seed pods
  •  100g fine sea salt
  •  60g cornflour
  •  20g ground turmeric
  •  20g English mustard powder
  •  20g ground ginger
  •  1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  •  2 tsp crushed cumin seeds
  •  2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
  •  1.2 litres cider vinegar
  •  300g granulated sugar
  •  100g honey

1. Cut the veg into small, even, bite-sized pieces. Place in a large colander over a bowl, and sprinkle with the salt. Mix well, cover with a tea towel and leave in a cool place for 24 hours, then rinse the veg with ice-cold water and drain thoroughly.
2. Blend the cornflour, turmeric, mustard powder, ginger, mustard seeds, cumin and coriander to a smooth paste with a little of the vinegar. Put the rest of the vinegar into a saucepan with the sugar and honey and bring to the boil. Pour a little of the hot vinegar over the blended spice paste, stir well and return to the pan. Bring gently to the boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes to allow the spices to release their flavours into the thickening sauce.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully fold the well-drained vegetables into the hot, spicy sauce. Pack the pickle into warm, sterilised jars and seal immediately with vinegar-proof lids. Leave for about 6 weeks before opening. Use within a year.

Makes 6 x 340g jars

I used quite a lot less of the ingredients used above, and roughly halved the recipe as well (making one large jar!)  I chose cauliflour (the one must-have), green pepper, onion, carrot and gherkins as the veg to use in the recipe (didn't have a clue where to find tomatillos where I live!).  I also used cider vinegar that another recipe called for, and I soaked the veg in pickling vinegar overnight instead of using the seasalt method.  I think if I did it again I would use a clear vinegar as the cider vinegar (while it probably tastes nice) makes it a darker colour instead of the fluorescent yellow we're used to!  I also used prepared English mustard instead of powdered, as I forgot our powdered mustard had expired recently and had been thrown out :(

It seemed to me to be the most difficult recipe I've followed to date, but that's due to not making many complicated things before and leaving the cooking to the husband!  But it was all straightforward and a lot of fun, if you don't mind your house smelling of pickling vinegar for two or three days.

It hasn't yet been 6 weeks (or 4 as other recipes say to leave it for), so I can't report on the taste, but I'll let everyone know how it turns out!


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