One of the best things about living out in the sticks is the generosity of gardeners who were over zealous with the planting (a bit like me at Easter, so carried away by the joy of watching our 5 year old grandson plop the potatoes in the holes, as I had with my grandad on his allotment 55 years ago, that I let him carry on……. hence an over production of potatoes and an under production of green beans due to lack of space). I digress.
Out here, you just drive along the road and you become your very own moving road-hazard due to continually peering into gateways in anticipation of broad beans, peas, courgette, spring onion, raspberries, redcurrants, cauliflower as you drive along. Down New Road I can always rely on broad beans. Down Bunwell Street I can always find onions, potatoes and salad. In my secret place (not telling you where) there are always runner beans. And for me, runner beans make piccalilli. Piccalilli probably originated in India and is a derivation of ‘pickle’. The picture above shows the prepared vegetables.
The ingredients offered make about eight 370g (Bonne Maman) jars.
Prepare a range of vegetables – here I have used chopped shallot, green beans, chopped peeled runner beans, chopped cauliflower, green tomato, deseeded and chopped cucumber and one sweetcorn. You can use whatever you like. My preference is weighted toward a greater proportion of beans. Make sure the pieces are small enough and evenly sized. Put in a big bowl and sprinkle with 50g salt. I use a stainless steel bowl. Mix around then put a saucepan lid or plate on top and leave for 24 hours. Then pour into a colander and rinse with cold water.
Mix 30g cornflour with three teaspoons each of ground turmeric, English mustard powder, black mustard seed, 2tsp cumin seed and a good grind of black pepper. Mix these carefully to a runny paste with a little cider vinegar. Pour 600ml cider vinegar into your preserving pan and then add the spice paste and mix together. Add 125g golden caster sugar and 60g agave syrup or honey. Bring all these to the boil and cook for 5 minutes (don’t put your head over the pan and breathe in!!)
Remember there will be no more cooking, because you want the vegetables to remain crisp, so make sure you cook the sauce thoroughly to develop the flavours. Remove from the heat and then add the vegetables to the sauce and stir i until they are well coated. Generally I don’t add all the vegetables at once – I probably start with two thirds then add a couple more spoons at a time. You are looking for an even distribution of sauce over and around the vegetables and with a bit of runny sauce too. If there appears to be too much liquid, add more vegetables. The consistency should look a bit like this picture – with sufficient sauce but plenty of vegetables.
Pack into warmed jars (sterilised as before (see Brinjal pickle)), bang once on the work surface to bring any air bubbles to the surface, then cover with a paper cap and a vinegar proof lid. If you can manage to leave it alone – leave for about 6 weeks for the flavours to develop.