Canning Piccalilli (mustard pickles)

The other day when I was pondering the Bread and Butter Pickles my grandma makes, I mentioned that the Piccalilli I made last season was giving those sweet-sour pickles a run for their #1 spot. I also realized that there are a few canning batches that never made it onto the blog because I'd misplaced by camera for a few months (found it hidden from myself in the dresser).Oops!
Piccalilli! I'd never heard of such a thing but after reading the recipe I realized this was very similar to the mustard pickles my Grandma made throughout my childhood. Her pickles included my favorite snack, tart little pearl onions and tiny chunks of cauliflower. Yum.

Flipping through my favorite canning book like I often do when planning my pantry, The River Cottage Preserves Handbookchimed in with a delicious recipe and a pretty picture of Romanesco. Michael and I both agreed early in the season that this would make it on our list so we purchased a load of vegetables at the peak of season here in the Northwest-- on October 24th. The recipe calls for your choice of mixed veg and ours included romanesco, green tomatoes, carrot, red onion, runner beans, and patty pan squash (a darling vegetable). We made our batch 2.5x the original recipe and now that it's almost gone from the pantry have regretted not doing a quadruple batch, or doing multiple batches with different veg mixes.
Like many good pickles, the recipe calls for these veggies to be salted for 24 hours to crisp and allow them to sweat some of their liquid.  Once they've been rinsed and drained the preservation piece begins. Mix together some spices (various types of mustard-- we found our Colman's Mustard Powderat Metropolitan Market in Seattle) to make a thick mustard paste, boil your vinegar and sweeteners, then dilute the mustard with a bit of  the cider vinegar and mix together. You've got sauce! To that mix you'll add your veg and cook for a short period, pack into sterilized jars and seal.
See the book for the entire recipe-- you will be pleased. I'd offer you a taste of my own but there's only one jar left and I'm far too selfish to share. Serve on any kind of sandwich; I've found it to be especially delicious loaded on a biscuit with some leftover roast chicken, but also enjoy it on a simple cold cheese sandwich or ham and cheese sandwich. Or serve as a side to a casserole. Mmmm. Have you ever made a version of mustard pickles? Or did you grow up with them too?

 PS. My cat Kenobi has found his way to Utah to live with my sister. I am forever thankful to my family for driving him 12 hours to Utah, and to my sister and her husband for giving him a new home. He will be so loved with them!


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