Friday, 6 September 2019

In a Pickle

On a whim I decided I wanted to make a homemade version of the famous Branston Pickle. No idea why..........just fancied an experimental challenge and  I quite like making chutney (except when I was cooking up big batches all the time to sell, it got a bit tedious then!)

Many of the recipes I tracked down online used some ingredients that I didn't think were in Branston in this country and as I continued looking it seemed that this is made in many countries but using different recipes. Some said that Crosse and Blackwell, the company who first made the famous pickle had been sold out to other companies who no longer use the original recipe. I haven't bought any chutneys or pickle for years so I can't even remember what it tasted like.

I looked through my recipe books in the kitchen and then remembered I had this book upstairs and sure enough it had a recipe, but I was a bit dubious about using it word for word.

The bloke who wrote this was at one time editor of Home Farm magazine and he and his wife turned out more than two dozen books on gardening, animal keeping etc and plugged them furiously through the magazine. I could never fathom how they had time to try all the things they wrote about  and judging by how poor the books were I don't think they did. Unfortunately I got this book early on before I knew all that. (Main criticism of this book is the number of things that you have to buy in order to make the things that you would otherwise buy ready-made! if that makes sense?)

I watched two "professional" English youtubers making a variety of Branston (or Ploughmans Pickle) in their kitchens. One was weird - he poured in some demerara sugar and then said "That would have been better if it had been dark brown sugar". I thought "well why the heck did you use demerara then?". He then said he would cook the swede and carrot a bit first to soften them...........but he didn't!

The ingredients in some on-line "pretend Branston" recipes included a small amount of celery and quarter of a cauliflower, but I didn't want to buy too many things specially, so in the end I decided just to use the cheapest bought things.......carrots and swede (which is called turnip in Scotland and rutabaga if you are in the U.S) and swapped gherkins for cucumber - from the greenhouse and then bunged in some green tomatoes also from the greenhouse. I reckoned one of the most important ingredients was dates - for the colour as well as the sweetness and I'd planned to buy some anyway to make the Gooseberry and Date chutney. Dates turned out to be the most expensive ingredient.

This is my recipe concoction

Sue's Version of the FAMOUS BRANSTON PICKLE

1 swede, peeled and chopped into very small pieces
2 large carrots ""          ""          ""                "".
1 large onion   ""         ""            ""                ""
1 pint brown malt vinegar

I started by gently cooking the swede, carrots and onion in the vinegar for 20 minutes.

Then I added

1 tablespoon of garlic from a tube
1 tablespoon ginger from a tube
2 teaspoons of Allspice
Tablespoon of Mustard Seed
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
250g Dates chopped small
2 green tomatoes chopped small
1 cucumber peeled and chopped
1 courgette chopped small
2 large apples peeled and chopped ( I used the good bits from  2  cooking apples and one desert apple that were windfalls).

I brought all this back to the boil and then simmered it gently for an hour, stirring regularly and adding a bit more malt vinegar now and again.

Then I added 250g of soft  Dark Brown Sugar and cooked it for another half an hour, stirring and adding a little more vinegar. I used a potato masher to mash the mix a little to change the texture of some of the chutney.

It still didn't look dark enough so I added a Tablespoon of Black treacle, I didn't want to add too much treacle because on my searches I'd found some mentions of it adding a burnt flavour.

When it looked about right and there wasn't too much loose liquid I potted up into 5¾ x 12oz  sterilised jars.

Still not as dark as I remember, maybe they use a caramel colouring?

 As yet it's difficult to tell how true the taste is to the real thing because it needs keeping for a month for the vinegar sharpness to tone down a bit.

The only things bought especially for this were the carrots, swede and dates, everything else was stuff I keep in anyway and things from the garden and greenhouse. Plenty of dates left for another chutney later.

The real test will be when I take a jar to Col's Brother as I know he still buys the proper stuff.

An interesting experiment to undertake, kept me out of mischief for several hours! and another thing done for the Christmas Hampers.

Back Tomorrow
Sue








28 comments:

  1. Morning Sue. I used to make a lot of jams and chutneys, not anymore though. Partly because we just don't eat them much nowadays, partly because I can't really be bothered! They were useful as gifts though, and we do have lots of garden produce, so I really ought to make the effort.

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    1. I don't eat much either but it's just so handy to give away, and I like creating something in the kitchen

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  2. Sounds as if you have got it very close and i'm sure yours is probably better. Thanks for the recipe

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  3. It looks wonderful and I bet it tastes a lot better than Branstons. Many thanks for the recipe.
    xx

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  4. Sounds great. Like Proper Worcester Sauce, I expect it needs a good time to "mature". As a child I was fond of PanYan pickle. They stopped making that 20 years ago. As we often get assorted pickles and chutneys as Christmas gifts, I use the leftovers at the bottom of the jars to make my own brown sauce using Gil Mellors recipe. That Precycle book does sound more gimmicky that good sense!

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  5. Looks good will try your recipe soon. I usually make rhubarb chutney to go with our cheese sandwiches for lunch.

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    1. I'll do a taste test in a few weeks to see how it's matured and let you know.

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  6. Hi Sue
    I read your blog each day....thank you.
    Block dates are cheaper and I think better flavor.

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    1. Hello, I'm glad you enjoy the blog - I'll keep going!

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  7. Wow that was a challenged and I think you are right about the colouring being added. I don't actually like Branston pickle (they seem to use a cheap version in cafes and it has put me off) prefer chutnies myself but an interesting read. Hope you enjoy it.

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  8. I agree with your comment about having to buy so many ingredients to make one thing, it stops me doing more cooking. We are trying to keep our store cupboard full with simple ingredients which we use all the time.

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  9. An interesting experiment. Homemade chutneys are lovely and keep really well, but as someone who hates vinegar I used to dread the smell when I made large batches. Yours looks right, but I'm sure Col's brother will be the best judge of taste :-)

    Yes, I've noticed that a lot of the 'homemade' cleaning things and products you can make yourself 'to save money' must surely end up costing lots more plus they have lots more packaging materials than buying the single product would have made. Another blogger did a post about this recently showing how much she had had to buy to make one product, I can't think who it was off the top of my head!

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    1. Colin used to come home from work and know before he even came indoors that I had been doing something with vinegar. But in the kitchen I didn't even notice it!

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  10. Never even heard of this pickle. Then what you showed that you made didn't even look like a pickle. Is it a relish?

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    1. Relishes can be pickles and pickles can relishes - we have a strange language over here!

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    2. America doesn't know what it is missing!

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  11. I love Branston Pickle - and it is very expensive here! Must buy a new jar next week and I'll see what they list as ingredients. Bet yours tastes just as good as the original - if not better!

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    1. I get mine as well as other British products (Heinz beans) from this place.
      https://britishfooddepot.com/groceries/
      They may ship to Canada. Reasonable prices.

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  12. Dear Sue,
    I read your blog every day!
    Don't see many chutneys here in the U.S. (aside from some Indian ones) although I've always liked them. I remember having Branston's in England more than 30 years ago as part of a ploughman's lunch. Delicious. Your recipe looks good!

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    1. Hello and thank you for reading and commenting. Branstons has been around for such a long time with a secret recipe. I expect people have tried to copy it many times

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  13. What an interesting experiment! My husband loves Branston's Pickles but, as others have said, it's expensive this side of the Atlantic.
    I think you are very brave to let Col's brother taste test it, but it doesn't have to taste like the original to be wonderful in its own right.

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  14. I love Branston and yours looks good.

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  15. I haven't had Branston since we left England in the 60's. My mom didn't make chutneys so I've never had any other. It's not something you see over here unless you're in an Indian restaurant. As Margie in Toronto said, Branston is very expensive over here.

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  16. Yum, yours looks delicious and I'm going to try your recipe. I live in North Carolina and I can find Branston here but I'll be willing to bet the homemade is better. Thank you for sharing.

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  17. I have had to abandon Chutney Making because the fumes aggrevate my asthma when I'm standing over the pan, stirring, but now I have Tam here for a bit I will encourage her to make me a big batch, as I have the usual autumn surplus of apples! Your Chutney looked very presentable, and as you say, it will need a month to cure a bit before you can see if the taste is as it "should be"! Usefulsounding book - apart from all the ingredients needed to stop you buying what would have been probably much cheaper to buy than make . . .

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  18. Sounds good.....I still eat Branston (a favourite with cheese). How much did it make? Be interesting to see what Col’s brother says....

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