Jams, jellies, and other spreads offer great flavor to sandwiches, toast, and appetizers. This Small Batch English Pickle recipe is tangy and sweet, a welcome change to the preserves you usually serve. And it’s made with pantry staples, common to American kitchens, making it easy to whip up a batch anytime.
Do you ever go on vacation, experience some amazing food during your travels, and then upon your return home, think about that amazing food for months on end, scheming a way for you to go back to that happy, delicious moment?
How about finding a way to make that amazing food at home, so that until you can make that return trip, you can appease at least your tastebuds during the waiting?
Enjoy Carnitas Tacos at home until your next trip south of the border.
Until your next trip to France, make the most of your mornings with a vrai Petit Dejeuner.
Cooking at home allows us to travel the world — from our kitchens.
And so that’s why I present to you my Small Batch English Pickle Recipe for American kitchens.
But, this pickle, it’s not the pickle you’re thinking of. It’s English pickle.
What in the world is that? If you’re native to the US, you might not really be sure. To us in modern day America, pickle typically conjures the idea of pickled cucumbers.
I didn’t know at first what English pickle was, but I took a risk, and I’m so glad I did.
One of our many Pret a Manger picnics in London
What does pickle mean?
To our grandmothers, pickle’s meaning had a wider range than just cucumbers. My own Gramma John used to make watermelon pickles, peeled and pickled watermelon rind. The Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving lists dozens of recipes for pickled foods, including chutneys, pickles, and relishes.
The New Food Lover’s Companion defines pickle (the noun) as such:
Food that has been preserved in a seasoned brine or vinegar mixture. Among the more popular foods used for pickling are cucumbers, pearl onions, cauliflower, baby corn, watermelon rind, pig’s feet, and herring. Pickles can be sour, sweet, hot or variously flavored such as with dill, for the popular dill pickle.
S0, what you order on your hamburger is more specifically, a slice of pickled cucumber, though here in the US we more commonly refer to it as a pickle.
What is English pickle?
English pickle is, as we’ve already established, a food preserved in seasoned brine or vinegar. But more specifically, it’s a type of sweet relish made up of a variety of vegetables. It’s served on sandwiches, likely what Endeavour means when he tells DI Thursday that his wife has packed him a cheese and pickle sandwich.
The most popular commercial brand of English pickle (at least on this side of the pond) is Branston which I’ve found in import shops such as World Market.
However, I wanted to make my own. Cheaper, more convenient than a trip to an import shop, and super yummy with ingredients I approve of.
After eating Pret pickle for a month last summer I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for, a smoothish spread/relish, sweet and tangy. (Some English pickle looks very chunky which wasn’t my goal.)
Posh Cheddar & Pickle Sandwich (recipe coming soon!)
An English Pickle Recipe for American Kitchens
So I went to the internet to see what’s what. My research revealed ingredients lists including but not limited to: rutabaga, dates, malt vinegar, zucchini, cucumber, cauliflower, tamarind, apple, carrots, and onion as well as a wide variety of spices.
The common denominator among all recipes was the presence of apple, carrots, onion, and spices. But guess what? Rutabaga and tamarind are not things I commonly buy. I don’t know anybody who does!
And malt vinegar, though one of the FishBoys requested I keep it stocked, is not super easy to find in my local stores.
So, in my quest to have my pickle and eat it, too, I set out to create an Americanized version of English Pickle. And by that, I mean, a small batch recipe that uses pantry staples common to American kitchens.
I landed on a sweet and tangy combination of the aforementioned apple, carrots, and onions, along with dried cranberries and raisins, white wine vinegar, brown sugar, and a handful of spices, including Worcestershire sauce.
The result? Exactly the flavors I loved in my Pret a Manger Posh Cheddar and Pickle Baguette! 😉
Trust me, I was on cloud nine when I nailed this English Pickle recipe. It was like being transported back to London or Edinburgh or Cambridge or Newcastle-upon-Tyne and enjoying a favorite treat from afar.
And now you can, too!
How I make this good:
Whenever possible I like to cook with plain old ingredients. While the convenience of mixes and canned sauces is nice, I feel better about feeding my family just real food whenever possible. (Go here for some of my reasons on all that.)
This English Pickle recipe is made of only real ingredients, nothing weird, nothing fake.
How I make this cheap:
Here are some of the strategies I use to make this recipe more economical:
- Do a price comparison. I know that Costco is the best place to buy ingredients in bulk, like raisins and Craisins when there isn’t a great sale elsewhere. I keep track of prices so that I know who has the best deal where.
- Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. For instance, when I see a great price on onions at the grocery store, I buy a lot.
- Freeze what I won’t use right away. There’s no use in making something only to let it go to waste because you can’t use it up in time. Freeze small portions of this pickle so that you have a tasty bit of England whenever a craving hits.
Tools to make this English Pickle recipe easy:
- plastic cutting boards
- Ergo Chef chef’s knife
- medium saucepan
- immersion blender or a A food processor
- small canning jar with plastic lid
Note: while I love to use canning jars for refrigerator and freezer storage, this recipe is NOT appropriate for water bath canning. It does not contain enough sugar and vinegar to act as preservatives. However, the recipe is good for awhile in the fridge and is also freezer-friendly.
After you’ve given this English pickle recipe a go, I’d love for you to come back and leave it a starred review. Thanks in advance for your feedback!
Small Batch English Pickle Recipe
- 1/2 cup carrots (chopped)
- 1/2 onion 1/2 cup chopped
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 apple peeled and chopped, for 1/4 cup
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for one hour on low, partially covered.
- Blend the mixture slightly with an immersion blender or in a food processor if you prefer a smoother texture.
- Allow the mixture to cool. Spoon into a covered container and refrigerate.
- Serve this spread on sandwiches, bread, toast, and crackers.