Happy about getting into a pickle in Hackney

EVERY WEEK I take £5 to Ridley Road Market in Dalston, Hackney, London E8 2LH, to spend on seasonal food. On Friday I tell you what I have chosen and publish a seasonal recipe.

As usual, expenditure on any extra ingredients, eg, a litre of oil, will be recouped by usage over subsequent weeks. Some of the recipes will be frugal. They will all be tasty. All will be vegetarian.

NB: this website uses metric measures but a few Ridley Road traders cheekily sell in imperial, some in metric and some also by the bowl. They all give good value.


This week’s £5 basket

1 cauliflower £1

4 large courgettes £1

Bobby beans £1. Too many to count (TMTC)

Cucumbers £1 TMTC

2 large ginger roots £1

Total £5

Equipment: non-reactive saucepan (one that will not stain with vinegar), kitchen and paring knife, three bowls — a large  ceramic bowl, small mixing bowl, medium bowl — sieve, colander, large spoon.

Jars for the piccalilli: I save all types of jars from honey, molasses and more.


This takes 2 days to complete because the vegetables have to soak for 24 hours before cooking.

Preparation: day one 90 minutes, day two 60 minutes. Wash all vegetables well.

Home-made pickles taste so much nicer than bought. They are crunchier, spicier and fresher-flavoured, and make great gift at Christmas or any other time. 


1 small cauliflower (the one above is too big so I will use half), 125g bobby beans, 3 cucumbers cut in half and all the seeds removed (those above are small so I am using 3, but the standard-size cucumber is perfect, 1 large courgette, 2 carrots peeled (from last week’s basket) 12 small onions peeled (see 12 October 2012), 50g sea salt, 600ml white vinegar, 2 bay leaves, 10 black peppercorns, 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 2 peeled garlic cloves, 25g flour, 1 and 1/2 English mustard powder, 2 heaped teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 75g caster sugar


This takes the most time. Cut all the vegetables into a little smaller than bite-size pieces and the cauliflower into little florets. Put all the vegetables in a bowl and cover with cold water. Add the salt and mix well, cover with a tea-towel and leave for 24 hours. Put the vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and garlic in the saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Leave until the next day for the spices to infuse the vinegar.

Next day: Prepare jars. I either put them in the oven to heat through, but only if the oven is on, or I boil a kettle and pour boiling water into the jars, ensuring that there is a metal conductor so they do not crack. I leave the hot water in the jars until needed: preserves must be placed in warm jars to prevent bacteria developing.

Drain the vegetables in the colander and rinse well, leave to drain. Strain the vinegar to remove the spices. In a bowl mix together flour, mustard powder, turmeric and ginger with four tablespoons of the spiced vinegar to make a paste. Then add the remaining vinegar mix well and return to the pan. Add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring all the time until the mixture thickens enough to cover the back go your spoon.

Dry the vegetables. I pat the with paper towels, and add them to the mustard mixture and cook for 6 minutes over a low heat, until only just tender. Spoon into hot sterilised jars and seal immediately. When cool, label with the date. Leave in a cool, dark cupboard for three weeks.

The pleasure in sharing something home-made outweighs the time it takes to prepare.

Next week: red onion chutney, which takes hardly any time to make and is delicious.

* Previous articles hyperlinked:

Golden soup 19 October 2012

Roasted, stuffed squash 12 October 2012

Vegetable curry 5 October 2012

Carrot and coriander soup 28 September 2012

Ratatouille Gypsy stew 21 September 2012

Bubble and squeak Shooey styleBakewell pudding 14 September 2012

Coleslaw and radishes 7 September 2012

Turkish spinach pie 31 August 2012;

Tomato tart, marinated aubergines, fresh mango chutney 24 August 2012;

Roasted butternut squash soup and beetroot salad 17 August 17 2012;

A dish to make from a fiver in the market: the column launched 15 August 2012

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