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The English interpretation of Indian Pickle


We must thank Elizabeth Raffald (the Mary Berry of the mid 18th century) for introducing the term Piccalilli to the English in 1769 and for including a recipe for this Indian pickle or Piccalillo in her book The Experienced English Housekeeper.

Now is the Piccalilli making time of year and here is one of the preserves that must be homemade.

There is no question that the home preserve  is far better than the commercial variety. It can be made any time during those quiet winter months with winter and root vegetables. Finally, it is so  quick and easy to make.  Just chop and cover .

When the spring turns to summer  a blob of piccalilli is delicious with a ploughman’s  and other summer platters, cold meats, cheeses, sausages, ham, or a pork pie and will make a powerfully spiced up sandwich.


So gather up your choice of winter vegetables.  Traditionally these should include cauliflower.


Beryl gives three recipes for Piccalilli including a sweet one but I prefer the standard any mixed vegetable variety.


910 (2lb) any mixed vegetables,(I used cauliflower, swede, tomatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli, adding pickled gherkins at the end), 570ml (1 pint) vinegar, 56g (2oz) sugar, 1 tbs. dry mustard, 14g (1/2 oz) turmeric, ground ginger, flour or cornflour (the latter makes a thicker sauce), 28g (1oz) pickling spice, brine (100g salt to 1 litre of water or 2oz salt to a pint of water).

Prepare  the vegetables and put in brine – 100g salt to 1litre water (2oz per pint) and leave overnight.


Put the vinegar in a pan, using a little to mix dry mustard to a paste and add all the other spices and sugar where used; simmer together till slightly thick; drain vegetables well, pack into sterilized jars and cover with hot mixture. Cover tightly. That’s it.

This easy recipe makes a perfectly crunchy relish but if you prefer something smoother then add the vegetables to the paste in the pan and simmer for ten minutes to soften the vegetables and put in sterilized jars as before.


 Allow at least a month before opening and look forward to enjoying piccalilli  through the summer.



  1. Should that read 28g(1 oz) pickling spice

    Comment by ron ryan on August 24, 2018 at 1:54 pm
  2. Thank you. It certainly should and I have corrected it now. Thank you

    Comment by Philippa Cardale on September 9, 2018 at 5:46 pm
  3. This recipe looks awesome!!! Since I don’t use grain flour, do you think almond or coconut flour would work well as a substitute? Thanks!

    Comment by Rose Martine on February 10, 2020 at 5:30 am
  4. I would definitely try it out. Though not an expert on flours, I think almond or coconut would make the pickle a tad thinner. But worth experimenting.
    Enjoy your piccalilli

    Comment by Philippa Cardale on February 15, 2020 at 2:34 pm

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