*Editors note*Now is a good time to inform you that the person we have writing our recipe blogs is a total history nerd.  She especially loves historical food, and after a year of begging, we let her do this recipe.  It also happens that it is great for using up summer veggies, and happens to taste good even by today’s different standards.

Piccalilli first appeared in British cookbooks somewhere around the late 1600s.  Essentially pickled vegetable relish it is a great side dish for cold meat and on crusty bread, making it perfect for a traditional ploughman’s (*editors note again*, we don’t know why she uses the British spelling here) lunch.  This recipe is a slightly updated version of the one that appeared in the 1917 Ball Blue Book of canning.

You will need:

  • 1 Head of cabbage chopped
  • 3 pounds chopped cored green tomatoes, unpeeled (about 8 medium)
  • 1 1/2 large onions
  • 1 large chopped seeded red bell pepper
  • 1 large chopped seeded green bell pepper
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp coarsely chopped gingerroot
  • 1 ½ tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • Spice bag
  • 6 to 7 Ball®  (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
  • Water bath canner


The Day before:

Combine your cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers with your salt. Let them sit overnight in the refrigerator.

In the morning:

Put cloves, allspice, ginger, in a spice bag.

Sterilize your canning jars.  If you are unsure about this process (or if you are a canning newbie check out our blog on prepping your canning equipment)

Drain off the liquid and add vinegar, brown sugar, pepper, cinnamon, mustard, and turmeric.  Add the spice bag.  Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and boil for 5-6 minutes Reduce heat and boil gently for about an hour stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until it reaches the consistency of commercial relish.

Discard the spice bag.

Pour liquid into prepared and warmed jars.  Leave 1/2” of air at the top.  Remove air bubbles and add more if necessary to maintain ½” headspace.  Wipe rim add top and band, place in water bath immediately.

Process jars for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat; remove the lid and let stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. The lid should not flex up and down when the center is pressed.


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