How To Make Piccalilly, a tasty Victorian pickle with spices.

Piccalilly, a Victorian favourite.
Piccalilly, a Victorian favourite. | Source


The Victorians loved spicy food, and at that time the spices were all coming from the British Empire and were cheaper than they had ever been. You may think that the love of curry in GB is new, but it is an old tradition.

Piccalilli is great with meat, cheese, meat pies. If you like a pickle with a bit and some flavour this is for you.

My cooking friend Fabio and I make lots of meat dishes and savoury pies, and almost always we round the dish off with homemade pickles, sometimes onions, beetroot, but most often piccalilli.

Here is our recipe which we have developed over a number of years using different spices and flavourings, but no dreaded ‘E’ numbers, or artificial anythings.

ready for the chop
ready for the chop | Source
tomatoes with the middles removed
tomatoes with the middles removed | Source
cucumber and cougettes
cucumber and cougettes | Source

The basics

You will need;

About six medium sized tomatoes, cut them in quarters and take out the seeds and juice, but don’t throw it away.

Four courgettes, chop them into squares.

A cucumber, chopped into cubes.

Two onions, or shallots finely diced.

A medium sized cauliflower split the florets and remove the thickest of the stalks.

One pint of cider vinegar, I like this better than malt for this pickle.

Spices, one teaspoon of each; coriander, turmeric, cumin, mustard, garlic, ginger

Half a teaspoon of chilli powder.

Two tablespoons of corn flour.

The vegetables need to be placed in a colander for about two hours with a good covering of salt, this will reduce the water content of them.

Mix your spices together and gently toast them in a frying pan. Make sure a that you do not burn them; toasting them gives the spices a much richer taste.

Wash the salt from the vegetables and then place them onto a some kitchen roll to dab away any excess water.

In a large pan place your vegetables, and then add the corn flour. Using a medium heat, gently begin sweating the vegetables, and now add the litre of cider vinegar and your spices.

Don't forget to use all your senses, and enjoy the incredible aromas and fragrances you will get from this dish.

Read the labels

Most of our friends and associates ask why we bother doing all this cooking and preparing food when the supermarket shelves are loaded with the stuff. There are many reasons for making your own meals, even Pickles. Just read any label you buy and see if you recognise everything that is written there; I’d be surprised if you did, unless you are to be chemist. Last piccalilli that I bought had minimum vegetables cooked in a thick glutinous sauce that had very few merits taste wise. The list of ingredients, was made up of various additives, sugars, and E-numbers; and to be honest it went in the bin.

Fabio and I are passionate about our foods, there is nothing to replace it.


Back to the cooking, whilst we do all this cooking, we have great fun telling stories and jokes, but the best bit is anticipating what we have created, and the pleasure we and our loved ones will get from eating it.

Boil everything together for twenty minutes. Prepare your jars by washing in Bicarbonate of soda, and then placing in the oven for ten minutes at 120 degrees.

Ladle the mixture into the jars and leave to set and cool. Once they are cooled down place in a dark place for at least 8 weeks. I usually label them all with the date so I know just how long they have been there.

Eat with cheese, meat pies, I have been known to have a piccalilli sandwich, yum yum.

I hope you have enjoyed this recipe and that you will try to make this great pickle. You can make more or less spicy to suit your taste. Please leave a comment so I know someone is out there.

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lex123 profile image

lex123 5 years ago

Looks yummy....! Thanks for sharing.

kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 5 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi my friend thanks for sharing this great information on Piccadilly and how and when to best use it. Loved all the great pictures to, great job !

Useful and vote up !!!

tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 5 years ago from Yorkshire Author


thank you for commenting, very much appreciated, I also hope you will try and enjoy this wonderful pickle.


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 5 years ago from Yorkshire Author

Hi kashmir56

nice to hear from you again, I hope you give it a try. I just love the stuff eeach time I make a batch I make it slightly different, my son always takes a few bottles home with him.

good luck


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stessily 5 years ago

Tony, Very nice recipe for Picalilli. It's so colorful and has such a satisfying taste!

I especially appreciate this sentence in your hub: " take out the seeds and juice, but don’t throw it away." Never ever do I throw anything away in the kitchen; I always find a way to reuse or recycle. If nothing else, there's the compost pile.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Your culinary adventures with Fabio are great. It's nice to have a cooking buddy.


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 5 years ago from Yorkshire Author

Hi Stessily

I consider piccalilli as part of my five a day. Frustrating as it is I now have to wait about six to eight weeks before eating it, oh dear I forgot to put that, I will have edit the hub.

The juice and seeds went into that night's curry, so they were not wasted.

Yes Fabio and I have become very good friends since we started cooking together, we both have the same passion for food. Do you know the French chef Raymond Blanc? he is the most passionate foody that I have ever met. He has a TV programme at the moment where he is touring France and cooking as he goes, it is great.

I think you once mentioned you like Balsamic vinegar, I bought some 'white balsamic' today, I've not tried it yet; it will maybe be better for fish and chicken because of the colour.

Talking of compost heaps, I sent the last of my Bramleys there this morning, I made another of the Torte di Mele for some friends and used up any that were good, but the rest well what can I say. So now until October I will have to buy apples.

We are having an amazing mild spell here, 19degrees C 58f yesterday, sometimes we don't get that in June:}

see ya


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stessily 5 years ago

Tony, White balsamic vinegar! I have not been able to locate it. Unfortunately I didn't have white balsamic vinegar on my mind whenever I was in Chicago; I am confident that it's stocked in the Windy City. Certainly white balsamic would work well with fish or chicken or whatever you create.

I'm pleased that your Bramleys found their final resting place in the compost pile. I'm commiserating that you'll "have to buy apples" until October.:-) Do you have apple trees?


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 5 years ago from Yorkshire Author

Stessily as I have already confessed to having a poor geographical knowledge of America I was wondering if you live near Chicago? We only have one shop around here that stocks white balsamic.

Yes sad about the Bramleys, they've done pretty well to last for about four months boxed up. I have three apple trees, only ones a Bramley, 2 conference pears, 2 peach trees these gave me a fantasic crop last year. All sorts of shrubs for fruit, gooseberries, blueberris, even a couple of vines and a few kiwis, although they never give any fruit. I'm pretty self sufficient, I grow potatoes in barrels and peas, and an assortment of vegetables all in containers these days. As you know I make all my own food, bread, sausage, curries all from scratch as you might say. I wish I could grow the spices:)

I'm chittling my potatoes for this year and getting all the growing trays sorted. Sorry to be a bore:(

nice to hear from you again, how's the computer saga? As soon as you get your own sorted I'll send my book for you.

take care

ttfn ...tally-ho

Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

Hi, Tony

I have to give this a try. I remember as a child my parents making picalilli but the age old recipe they followed has - unfortunately - long since been lost.

Interesting that you put your tomato seeds in a curry. I agree with the concept of using all foodstuffs where possible rather than throwing them away but I have never before retained tomato seeds. Any other uses for them? Might make a good Hub! :)

Have a good weekend



tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 5 years ago from Yorkshire Author

HI Gordon

I hope you are well. I love piccalilly, a meat pie is not the same without some.

By the seeds, I meant all the wet stuff out of the middle, you may as well use it up.

How's the fishing this year?

I actually use 2 teaspoons of chilli and a few jalapinoes for extra heat. yummy

nice to hear from you again, thanks for calling.

I hope your weekend is good too.

cheers Tony

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Derdriu 4 years ago

Tony, What a delectable, inviting, scrumptious treat is Picalilly! In particular, I like the way it photographs and what you suggest that it can go with: Cheeses and meat pies are definitely a draw. But what is in a Picalilly sandwich?

Thank you for sharing, voted up + all.

Respectfully, Derdriu

tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 4 years ago from Yorkshire Author


a picalilly sandwich is two slices cuut as thick as doorsteps of wholemeal bread, buttered and filled with picalilly. Your five a day sandwich yummy.

Have you ever had picalilly?

Yummily yer old pal


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Derdriu 4 years ago

Tony, No, but now I have the recipe ;-].

Respectfully, Derdriu

tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 4 years ago from Yorkshire Author


make it as spicy as you like, but word of warning make sure if you salt some of the veg that you then wash and soak it, otherwise, I made one that was awful some while back because of the salt.

regards tony

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Derdriu 4 years ago

Tony, Thank you!

Respectfully, Derdriu

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