Making Piccalilli - A Canning Recipe

Making Piccalilli - A Canning Recipe

One of the more brilliant ideas my mom had for my recent bridal shower was to invite all of the guests to share a favorite family recipe on a provided recipe card that my mom illustrated. The cards, when returned, were then placed in a recipe box and gifted to me at the shower. It was adorable, and I loved it so much! As a self-appointed home cook and lover of food, these recipes mean the world to me and I am so thankful for each and every one of them. There were, of course, some really unique ones that I had to try! I figured why not share them here on the blog as well? One of the first recipes I received (and perhaps one of the most interesting) was from one of our CSA members: piccalilli. It was something that I had never heard of before, and she described it as a sweet relish. Her mother used to make it and can it and had passed it down to her. So sweet!

Out of curiosity, I decided to take a look into what exactly piccalilli was. As it was new to me, it’s often difficult to picture a recipe when you have no idea what it is. Piccalilli dates back to use in the late 1600s, a dish adapted by the British from India and other parts of South Asia. Then, it was made of chopped vegetables and spices, namely cauliflower, onion, gherkin cucumbers, mustard, and turmeric. The use of turmeric gave the relish its signature yellow coloring. This condiment is still often sold and eaten in Europe at supermarkets to accompany foods such as sausage, bacon, eggs, toast, cheese, and tomatoes. The most popular dish it is served with is ham and head cheese (something Kyle and I just discovered a couple of months ago - so strange and kind of gross! But something I feel the need to try nonetheless).

After reading more into what piccalilli was, I was a bit confused since my recipe did not call for many of the traditional ingredients like cauliflower or turmeric. Then I found more information about American piccalilli, which was a sweet relish with a base of sweet peppers or green tomatoes. Mine had a base of both! American piccalilli is similar to sweet pepper relish or chow chow (the neon relish used on ballpark hotdogs). It uses larger chunks, is sweeter, and ingredients such as onions, bell peppers, cabbage, green beans, and other vegetables. The truth came out: we always make things sweeter in the states. I suddenly felt very non-British at that moment, though the description of the previous meals and ingredients had me feeling connected to my familial roots!

Ingredients + Recipe |

  • 12 large green tomatoes

  • 4 green bell peppers

  • 2 red bell peppers

  • 6 onions

  • 1 small cabbage

  • 1/4 cup salt

  • 3 cups brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 tsp celery seed

  • 1 tbsp mustard seed

  • 1 tbsp cloves

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 1 tbsp allspice berries

  • 2 cup apple cider vinegar

  1. Coarsely chop green tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cabbage. Toss together in a large bowl with the salt. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter overnight.

  1. In the morning, place the vegetables and brown sugar in a large stockpot.

  2. In a small muslin bag or piece of cloth, tie together the celery seed, mustard seed, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and allspice berries. Toss in with vegetables.

  3. Cover in apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low boil and let cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.

  4. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars, and lids.

  5. Fill hot jars with hot picalilli and leave 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims and apply lids and rings fingertip tight.

  6. Process in hot water bath canner for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid and let sit for 5 more minutes. Remove and wait for jars to seal. Check seals after 12 hours.

  7. Store until ready to use!

With its interesting ingredients and smell (Tad walked into the kitchen while I was making this and asked, “What smells like dirty socks?”), I was surprised to find the flavor sweet and delicious. Next time I will definitely chop the ingredients up more finely, but chunky works too. Enjoy!

xoxo Kayla


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