Way back at the end of 2015, I made some picalilli. Somehow in the rush of Thanksgiving and Christmas that year, I did not share the recipe with you. I apologize. Of all the things that Grandma Vera Anderson preserved, I most yearn to have the recipe for picalilli. Alas, she probably just threw together whatever vegetables, in whatever amount she harvested, and no recipe remains.
And what is picalilli? It’s origin seems to be India via England. The inclusion of turmeric provides a big clue to Indian origina, as turmeric is a must in Indian cooking. I have included some links to more information down below, including the puzzle of the difference between picalilli and chow-chow.
Although I do not have Grandma’s recipe for picalilli, I think I came up with a pretty fair approximation, after scouring old cookbooks and the Internet. Just keep in mind, this is a pickle made at the end of the growing season, so she might well have included other “leftovers” from her garden.
Cabbage,green tomatoes, red bell peppers, green bell peppers ( which Grandma called “mangoes” in a 1943 letter), sugar and spices. Recipes call for onions, which I can’t eat. I thought the picalilli was fine without them, but feel free to add them if that is important to you.
This recipe comes from the Ball canning site. I highly recommend this site if you are a novice at preserving and canning, as I am. The Ball people have been providing the jars and lids and advice for generations, so you can find answers to your questions about what to do if you don’t have a canning kettle, how long you can keep things preserved for refrigerator rather than canned under pressure, and how to prepare your jars and lids.
I deviated from the recipe by leaving out the onions, substituting ground giner for grated ginger root, and and I did not boil the filled cans for long shelf storage. Instead, I sterilized the jars and kept the product in the refrigerator for not over two months.
If you do not have half pint glass canning jars, you will need six or seven of them. Do not reuse the two-part canning lids. You can find the lids and jars in most grocery stores, and in Walmart.
Another thing you may not have on hand is cheesecloth–needed to make a spice bag. That also should be available at your grocery store.
Pickling spices are available in the spice section of your grocery store. (That’s the pickling spices in the blue-lidded container. The other round beads are the mustard seed. If you’re lucky, you’ll have access to a store that sells spices and herbs from bins, so you can get the small amount you need–only 1/4 cup.
Everything else in the recipe should be easy to find.
Everyone who tried the picalilli on my Thanksgiving table–even the picky eaters–loved it.
By the way, Grandma also made something she called chow-chow, and I have no idea what was in it or how it was different. I vaguely relate it to pickled corn, but I am not sure about that. Anyhow, here is more information about the varous pickles and chow-chow. Notice how close the Philadelphia Pickle is to my recollection of Grandma’s Picalilli. And a second article from the same site, has several Chow Chow recipes that sound suspiciously like Picalilli.
Have you eaten or made picalilli or chow-chow? What were the ingredients? I’d love to know if they differ in various parts of the country.