A classic American picnic favorite that has been around since the late 1800’s, piccalilli was originally made with cabbage.
The name “piccalilli” comes from the Italian word piquillo – meaning small onion.
These days, there are many different types of piccalillis, including tomato based varieties, green bean or corn based recipes, and even beet-based recipes!
What Is A Piccalilli Recipe?
Piccalilli is a tangy pickle relish that can be used as an accompaniment to all sorts of foods.
You can serve it on top of burgers, sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, chicken wings, ribs, and more.
It also makes an excellent addition to dips like potato chips dip.
The flavors will complement any food you put it on.
It can be eaten plain or mixed into other dishes.
The secret ingredient behind this delicious condiment is mustard seed.
This spice helps the vinegar and sugar break down the vegetables so they don’t get mushy over time.
You can make your own piccalilli at home by following our step-by-step guide below.
If you want to experiment with other spices, try adding some curry powder, garlic, jalapeño peppers, ginger, cumin, paprika, celery salt, or chili flakes.
Just remember not to add too much heat to this dish because it should be milder than most spicy condiments.
What Are The Ingredients In A Piccalilli Recipe?
There are several key ingredients to consider when making a piccalilli recipe.
To begin, your recipe will call for onions, vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seeds (or other spices), black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, turmeric powder, celery seed, garlic, ginger root, dill weed, bay leaves, and parsley.
These are just some of the basic ingredients used in this type of dish.
You may also add carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, rutabagas, turnips, radishes, potatoes, tomatoes, and/or any combination of these vegetables into your recipe as well.
The following list shows some additional details about each ingredient included in a typical piccalilli recipe:
- Onions – One medium sized yellow onion should be enough for 4 cups of sliced raw onion. If using fresh diced onions, one large onion can be used instead.
- Vinegar – A light cider vinegar works best, but white wine, apple cider, malt, rice, sake, sherry, and champagne vinegars all work equally well.
- Sugar – White granulated sugar is typically used in most piccalillis, although brown sugar and honey both work fine too. Brown sugar usually contains molasses which gives it extra depth of flavor, while honey adds its own unique sweetness. Honey isn’t often used because it tends to darken over time, so if you plan on keeping this recipe for longer than one year, opt for sugar.
- Salt – Salt helps keep foods crisp during cooking, and it also brings out flavors in food by drawing water out of them. Most people use table salt for their piccalillis, however, sea salt is another option worth considering.
- Mustard Seeds, Black Peppercorns, Red Pepper Flakes, Turmeric Powder, Celery Seed, Garlic, Ginger Root, Dill Weed, Bay Leaves, Parsley, and Cilantro (optional)
Some variations include adding whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cardamom pods, nutmeg, saffron threads, mace, coriander seeds, paprika, cayenne pepper, curry powder, dried chilies, and/or chili sauce to spice up your piccalilli recipe.
Just remember to start with less heat if you want a milder taste.
How Do You Make A Piccalilli Recipe?
There are two main ways to make piccalilli: using fresh vegetables (which is considered more authentic) or canned versions.
- The first step in making your own homemade piccalilli recipe is prepping all of the ingredients. You will need carrots, onions, celery, peppers, and cucumbers. These can be sliced into thin strips, diced, or cut up into chunks. Some people prefer using whole pieces of veggies instead of slicing them down to size. When cutting up the veggies, it helps if they are peeled beforehand.
- To prepare the spices, mix together mustard seeds, coriander seed, black pepper, turmeric, fennel, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and ginger powder. Then combine these spice mixtures with vinegar until fully mixed.
- Lastly, add salt to taste and let this mixture sit overnight before refrigerating for 24 hours.
Once all of the ingredients have been prepared, start heating water on medium heat in a large stockpot.
Once boiling, reduce the temperature and simmer for about five minutes.
Then turn off the heat, allow the pot to cool completely, and put the contents through a food mill.
This process removes any excess liquid from the vegetables so that they are nice and dry when added to the jar.
If you don’t want to use a food mill, you could also sift through a strainer after cooking the vegetables and then transfer them back to the pan just before adding the spices and vinegar.
Now that we have our vegetables ready, we can move onto packing them into jars.
To do this, take each ingredient individually and pack it tightly into its respective jar.
After filling each jar, give it a good shake to ensure everything is combined well.
Finally, fill the jars with hot water and seal with lids.
Store the jars in a dark place at room temperature for four weeks, shaking daily for the first week.
After the fourth week, store them in the refrigerator.
When you’re ready to serve, simply remove the lid from your jar, pour out some of the water, and enjoy!
What Is The History Of Piccalilli Recipes?
Piccalilli came to be in the late 19th century as a way to preserve vegetables during the winter months when fresh produce wasn’t abundant.
As the popularity grew, so too did the variety of ingredients used to create this tasty condiment.
During World War II, the United States government encouraged Americans to grow their own food by creating Victory Gardens.
Piccalilli became an essential part of these gardens because it kept well on long journeys and could be easily stored (and eaten) year round.
In recent decades, piccalilli has become popular again due to its versatility.
Some people like to use piccalilli as a topping for grilled cheese sandwiches while others love the flavor of piccalilli itself.
Either way, everyone can agree that piccalilli brings out the best flavors of whatever foods you pair it with!
If you want to try your hand at making a delicious piccalilli recipe, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Pickling is all about preserving, so don’t add any extra sugar if you aren’t going to eat the finished product right away. If you plan to store your jar for later consumption, consider adding additional vinegar to balance out the sweetness.
- When choosing which type of vegetable to include in your recipe, opt for one that will hold up well under heat without becoming mushy or soggy. Pickles tend to lose their crisp texture after being cooked, so choose something thick enough to stand up to the heat but still retain its shape.
- Make sure you thoroughly rinse your vegetables before using them to remove dirt, sand, or other unwanted particles. Rinsing also helps remove excess water, allowing your pickle to absorb more of the brine.
- Don’t forget to label your jars once they are full to ensure that nobody accidentally eats what isn’t theirs. Once you have filled the last jar, give the lid a good shake to distribute the liquid evenly throughout the contents.
How Did Piccalilli Recipes Come About?
Piccalilli can be traced back to 1869 when it first appeared in print.
According to an article published by the New York Times on June 20th, 1869, piccalilli was created as part of a recipe for a hot dog (the author called them ‘hot dogs’) at a restaurant called the Piccadilly Inn near Philadelphia.
The original recipe included mustard, onions, vinegar, sugar, molasses, salt, pepper, celery seed, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, coriander seeds, caraway seed, ginger, horseradish, turmeric, and saffron.
It wasn’t until several years later, however, when someone decided to add tomatoes to the mix.
In 1877, one woman added diced fresh tomatoes after peeling and chopping the onions into the mixture.
She then mixed in 1/4 cup each of brown sugar, vinegar, and water.
When you’ve got a good recipe, don’t mess with perfection!
By 1888, the dish had become so popular that a patent was issued for a machine that could pack and seal the product.
By 1900, there were over 30 companies producing piccalilli products, and this number continued to grow throughout the next century.
Today, there are over 60 major manufacturers making piccalilli products across America alone.
What Are Some Popular Piccalilli Recipes?
Piccalilli can be found in most grocery stores nowadays, but it originated as an old fashioned side dish at traditional family reunions and church social events.
Piccalilli also makes a great addition to burgers, sandwiches, salads, and wraps because of its versatility and freshness.
Here are three delicious ways you can enjoy this tangy pickle on your next outdoor adventure:
- Make a batch of spicy piccalilli slaw by adding chopped red bell pepper, cucumber, carrots, celery, and radishes into the jar with vinegar, sugar, salt, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, dill seed, and garlic powder.
- Add a little bit of spice to your dinner with these easy homemade ketchup chips using roasted jalapeño peppers, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, sugar, and cider vinegar.
- Enjoy a nice slice of juicy steak alongside your garden veggies and fresh fruits during a relaxing afternoon picnic along the lake or river.
What Are Some Unusual Piccalilli Recipes?
Here are just a few examples of unusual piccalilli recipes you might want to try out:
- The Piccalilli Corn Relish – this uses fresh corn kernels in place of traditional vegetables like cucumbers, turnips, etc.
- Piccalilli Pickle Spears – these are mini versions of the original recipe. Instead of using full sized jars, use smaller glass containers so everyone can take home as much piccalilli as they need for their next picnic.
- Green Bean Piccalilli Recipe – instead of boiling your green beans before adding them into the jar, add raw green beans straight onto top of the other ingredients.
- Pickled Beets & Turnip Piccalilli Recipe – beets are typically not used when it comes to making piccalilli because of how strong they are. But if you love beets and would like to make this recipe, simply boil your beets first and then proceed as usual.
Some people also enjoy making homemade salad dressings by mixing together mayonnaise and vinegar, but most people don’t think about making homemade piccalillies.
However, if you have never tried any of these, I highly recommend giving them a go at least once!
What Are Some Tips For Making Piccalilli Recipes?
Piccalilli is great to have on hand, but it doesn’t take long to make this tasty condiment at home.
If you want to make your own version, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure to use fresh vegetables whenever possible. Frozen vegetables will work fine if they still retain their texture after thawing, but be aware that frozen veggies may not taste as good as fresh ones.
- Don’t add too much salt when cooking the vegetables. Too much salt will cause them to become mushy, which isn’t what we’re going for.
- Use high quality vinegar. A cheap brand won’t cut it when it comes to making your piccalilli. You don’t need to spend $20+ per bottle, either. I recommend using Bragg Liquid Vinegar (which retails for about $5) because it’s an organic product produced by a family-owned company who cares deeply about the environment. They also make other delicious products like apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegars.
- Choose a variety of vegetables. You could go with just one type of vegetable, but why would you? Variety means more flavors and textures, plus you get to try out new combinations! Here are some ideas for adding flavor to your dish: carrots, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, zucchini, jalapeño peppers, kale, chard, mustard greens, radishes, turnips, onions, leeks, fennel, garlic, shallots, ginger root, cilantro, parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, dill weed, hot pepper flakes, dried basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, mint, curry powder, paprika, and turmeric.
- Pickle the vegetables before boiling them. Boiling vegetables releases a lot of water, which makes them soggy. Pickling helps preserve the moisture content so that your vegetables stay crunchy instead of turning into liquid soup.
- Add spices while heating up the vegetables. Spices help give your piccalilli its signature kick, without having to add extra salt! Try cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cardamom pods, nutmeg, ground black pepper, coriander seeds, star anise, and/or chili peppers.
- When serving, allow each person to adjust seasoning to suit his or her preferences.
How Can You Vary Piccalilli Recipes?
You can make your own piccalilli using any type of vegetables you have on hand.
Some popular ingredients include cauliflower, green beans, carrots, peppers, beets, turnips, rutabaga, parsley root, onions, celery, and cucumbers.
Some people like to add vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, mustard seed, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper in their piccalilli.
Others prefer a sweeter taste by adding honey, molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, raisins, apples, oranges, pineapple, or cranberries.
You can also use dried fruits such as cherries, dates, or apricots instead of fresh fruit.
Tips for Making Piccalilli Recipes
- If you want to skip the chopping step, buy pre-cut vegetables at the grocery store.
- Wash all of the vegetables thoroughly before cutting them into smaller pieces.
- It’s best to let the vegetables soak in brine overnight (or longer) before packing them into jars.
- After soaking, pack each jar with the vegetables. Be sure to leave about ½ inch headspace above the top of the jar so they don’t explode during boiling.
- Boil the jars until it reaches 200° F (93° C). For more precise instructions, check out this video below.
- Let cool completely before storing.
What Are Some Common Mistakes When Making Piccalilli Recipes?
The most important thing to remember about creating your own homemade piccalilli is to avoid adding too much sugar.
This will make it overly sour and not very appealing on its own.
So be sure to taste as you go along while preparing this dish so you know how much salt and sugar you need to add.
You don’t want to end up with something that tastes like candy.
Another mistake people often make when making their own piccalilli is using raw onions instead of cooked ones.
Raw onions contain more moisture than cooked onions, which means they will break down during cooking if left alone.
If you really want to use raw onions, try sautéing them first before adding them to your final product.
However, I would recommend using only 1/4 cup of raw onions in any given batch because it takes less time to cook and can impart more flavor overall.
Lastly, never leave your finished piccalilli in the fridge overnight without an airtight container.
As it sits, the vinegar will continue to ferment and eventually become unsafe to consume due to bacteria growth.
- 8 ounces cauliflower
- 6 ounces shallot
- 6 ounces cucumber
- 3 ounces green beans
- 2 carrots peeled
- 1 ½ tablespoons salt
- 5 cups apple cider vinegar
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 ½ tablespoons mustard powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- In a sizable bowl, combine all the vegetables with the salt and water. For an hour, cover with a cloth and leave. To drain the vegetables, wait an hour.
- In a sizable saucepan, combine the drained veggies, vinegar, sugar, turmeric, mustard powder, crushed ginger, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer. Until the vegetables are cooked, simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.
- Sterilize the jars while the vegetables are cooking. One 32 ounce/1 liter jar is required.
- The jars and lids should be fully submerged in a big pan of water. For ten minutes, bring the water to a boil. When ready to use, keep the jars hot and use tongs to take them from the water. Dry by setting on a towel.
- To thicken the paste, combine a little water with the flour and stir it into the pan of veggies.
- Leave an inch of room at the top of the jars before filling them, and then carefully cap them. This will accommodate any more liquid the vegetables might omit. 3–4 weeks should be given for pickling. Refrigerate for up to a week after opening. For a simple way of long-term preservation, use cans