Piccalilli is a delightful and tangy British pickle that is bursting with flavors of various vegetables and spices. It is a wonderful accompaniment to sandwiches, cold meats, and cheeses, adding a zesty kick to any dish. The recipe for piccalilli has been passed down through generations, and it continues to be a beloved condiment in British households. Let's dive into this traditional recipe and explore some fun facts about piccalilli along the way.
Historically, piccalilli originated in the United Kingdom and can trace its roots back to the 18th century. The name "piccalilli" is derived from the Hindi word "pickles" and the Portuguese word "picante," meaning spicy or piquant. This fusion of influences reflects the multicultural history of British cuisine.
Piccalilli is a versatile recipe that allows for a wide variety of vegetables to be used. While gherkins, French beans, and cauliflower are commonly included, other vegetables such as carrots, onions, capsicums, white cabbage, and celery can also be added. It's a fantastic way to utilize surplus or leftover vegetables, making it an economical and sustainable choice.
To prepare piccalilli, start by pickling the gherkins, French beans, and cauliflower separately, as directed in their respective recipes. Make sure to cut them into small, bite-sized pieces before pickling. For the carrots, boil them in brine to soften them before proceeding.
Next, it's time to prepare the flavorful liquor. In a saucepan, combine half a gallon of vinegar with two ounces of ginger, one ounce of whole black pepper, one ounce of whole allspice, and one ounce of bruised chillies. Additionally, add three ounces of shallots and one ounce of garlic. Allow the mixture to boil for nearly twenty minutes, infusing the vinegar with the aromatic flavors of the spices.
In a separate bowl, create a paste by mixing a little bit of the liquor with two ounces of flour of mustard and one ounce of turmeric. Gradually stir this paste into the remaining liquor, ensuring it is well incorporated. The addition of mustard and turmeric not only provides vibrant color to the piccalilli but also contributes to its distinctive flavor.
Finally, pour the prepared liquor over the pickled vegetables, ensuring they are fully submerged. The liquor acts as a preservative and imparts its flavors onto the vegetables, resulting in a harmonious blend of tastes. Allow the piccalilli to sit for a few days or even weeks, as the flavors will continue to develop over time.
Fun fact: Piccalilli was traditionally served on British Navy vessels as a condiment for salted meat and hardtack biscuits. It was an essential part of the navy diet because the vinegar used in piccalilli helped combat scurvy, a common affliction among sailors due to vitamin C deficiency.
Piccalilli can be stored in airtight jars in a cool, dark place for months, but it is advisable to consume it within a year for optimal freshness. Once opened, store the jar in the refrigerator and use it within a few weeks.
Now that you have prepared homemade piccalilli, get creative with how you enjoy it. It makes a fantastic addition to cheese boards, sandwiches, burgers, and even as a dipping sauce for snacks. The tangy and slightly spicy flavors of piccalilli elevate any dish, making it a beloved pickle in British cuisine.
If you're intrigued by piccalilli, you may also enjoy similar recipes such as chutneys and relishes. Chutneys are usually made using fruits, vegetables, or a combination of both, combined with spices, vinegar, and sugar. They can be sweet, savory, or spicy, depending on the ingredients used. Relishes, on the other hand, are chunky condiments that typically contain pickled vegetables and spices. They add a burst of flavor and texture to dishes, just like piccalilli.
So go ahead and explore the world of pickles, chutneys, and relishes. From homemade piccalilli to tantalizing chutneys, these recipes are sure to add a delightful twist to your culinary adventures. Enjoy!