Branston Pickle

We thought we’d take a little break from our weekly guide of British chocolate bars, and bring you something a little more savory. Branston Pickle, named after the small village it was first produced Branston in 1922, is a vegetable relish, commonly partnered with cheddar cheese, or a ploughman’s lunch. The most important thing – it’s utterly delicious!

Always made using the same recipe, the specifics are kept under lock and key. However, it is known to contain swede, carrots, onions, cauliflower and gherkins, pickled in a sauce of vinegar, tomato, apple, dates, mustard, coriander, garlic, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Its tangy, vinegary flavor, balanced by the hum of spices, has won it millions of fans, including Catherine Zeta-Jones and Naomi Campbell – apparently!

This delicious example of traditional British flavors and cooking methods, almost had its day back in 2004, in what became known as the ‘Pickle Crisis’. A fire destroyed the Branston factory, cutting stocks in half and pushing prices up as devoted fans panic-bought. Now back at full production… Naomi will be happy!

We sell Branston Pickle in-store, and also serve it with our welsh rarebit, and cheese & pickle sandwich, both of which we serve in the restaurant and deliver. If you’re thinking about lunch, why not go for a crusty white sandwich, and see for yourself… it works a treat for a hangover!

Our cheese & pickle sandwiches are served sans salad as standard. If you'd like lettuce and tomato, just ask and we'll happily add it!

Piccallili!

A very sweet customer from Maryland got in touch to tell us how much she loved the blog and to enquire about purchasing our cookbook “Tea & Sympathy: A Tale of an English Teashop in New York”. She also asked about a good recipe for Piccalilli. After a bit of head-scratching, soul-searching and thumb-twiddling Matt in A Salt & Battery, our fish and chip shop, recommended this version from the extremely affable Rick Stein. We thought it hit the spot perfectly and was well worth sharing with you all.

Piccalilli is a traditional English relish made of pickled vegetables. Cauliflower and vegetable marrow always play a leading role, as do mustard powder (we recommend Colman’s) and turmeric, the delicacy of which, balanced with the robustness of the vinegar, creates the condiment’s distinct flavor. Serve with crusty bread and thickly cut ham for a simple but divine snack.

Piccalilli

Overnight preparation time
30 mins to 1 hour cooking time
Makes 12 x 450g/1lb jars

Ingredients

Preparation method

  1. Mix the salt with the boiling water. Leave to cool, divide between two large bowls and add the cauliflower and onions to one bowl and the runner beans, cucumber and courgettes to the other. Cover with a plate to keep the vegetables submerged and leave for 12-24 hours.
  2. Drain the vegetables and rinse them well, still keeping them separate.
  3. Put the sugar, garlic and 1.5 litres (2 pints 13fl oz) of vinegar into a large pan. Bring to the boil, add the cauliflower, onions, allspice and nutmeg and cook for just three minutes. Add the beans and the cucumber and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. The vegetables only want to be just cooked, with still a little crunch left in them. Lift out of the vinegar with a large spider or sieve into a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Mix the flour, mustard, turmeric and ginger powder with the rest of the vinegar and enough water to make a smooth paste. Add a little of the hot vinegar mixture, stir into the rest left in the pan and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir the sauce into the vegetables, spoon into warm sterilised jars and seal with vinegar proof lids.

In properly sterilized jars, this will keep for an age – with Hurricane Irene around the corner, stock up now; this well keep you well fed for months!

We stock two varieties of piccalilli in-store. Haywards for $8.95 and Heinz for $4.95 – we can ship and you can order via email: info@teaandsympathynewyork.com, or by phone: 212-989-9735. Keep it a secret but the former is far superior.

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