Talk:Branston pickle recipe

From Cookipedia

OK, I confess, this is how I originally found you Cookipedia guys 'n' gals when I was using (preferred search engine rather than Googly-woogly) to find out how to make this for myself at home.

As I live outside the UK, original jars of Branston pickle are hard - but not impossible - to find. (We have a dedicated shop for British products, but it's small, everything is horrendously expensive, some things are not always in stock, and the range is poor.)

I am occasionally partial to a bit of Branston, and one of my mates more so - he can scoff a 400g jar in one(!!!) sitting, which is slightly weird when he doesn't even like cheese, the best accompaniment for it IMO.

If anyone is planning to make a batch of this in the near future, please let me know beforehand, as I think some of the ingredients are going to be difficult to source over here, and I would like to discuss alternatives/replacements and variations in cooking methods.

If I can manage to make a good approximation of this product, myself (and especially Steve, after I have taught him to make it for himself) will be eternally grateful.

--Roses2at 11:22, 27 July 2010 (BST)

I took a variety of web recipes, stole from them all and made this mine. It was brilliant first time. I can definitely help with ingredients. I kept an exact note of what I used so I could replicate again. Some things, such as the chili type are not really important, it's what I had .'. what i used. The caramel colouring was important if you can get that. Makes it look the right colour rather than the 'grey' of some home-made pickles.

I have all of the spices in massive quantities Media:Spice cabinet.jpg and I'm sure I can dig some out for you if you draw a blank.

I will be making some more soon, but all I will need to buy are the vegetables, which I'm sure you can get. Ask away if you have any questions. I will be able to answer them! --Chef 13:50, 27 July 2010 (BST)

I've now printed out the recipe and gone through the ingredients one by one and I can't see any major probs. The local English shop has Sarson's malt vinegar (3 Euros for small bottle!!!), and I think I've seen mustard seeds in some of the supermarkets. If not, there is a street market called the Naschmarkt (you'd love it!!), like an open air Turkish bazaar where you can get almost anything and everything. The only difficulty might be the caramel, as I agree with you, the colour could otherwise turn out grey and very unappetising. Can I use the caramel from those supermarket creme caramel packs or is it too sweet? Have you ever made caramel at home? I'm scared I would ruin one of my saucepans doing it. I've heard it's poss in the microwave. If I can persuade Steve to pay for the ingredients, this might be my first Cookipedia recipe I attempt (look Mum, no hands!!!) --Roses2at 15:58, 27 July 2010 (BST)

Send me your address (by email) and I'll send you a little. I'll never use all of mine. That'll give customs something to fuss about! --Chef 16:05, 27 July 2010 (BST)


Would it be possible to replace the caramel with gravy browning granules (eg Bisto or Tesco own brand) or even with another dark sauce such as Worcestershire or even soy sauce? --Roses2at 13:18, 28 July 2010 (BST) Doing some tests, will be reported on recipe or talk page. --19:37, 30 July 2010 (BST)

Experiments with colouring

Because some visitors have had difficulty obtaining Caramel colouring I tried a few experiments with the latest batch I made. To summarise the results: 'If you can't get caramel colouring, don't add any colouring at all. The pickle still looks great.

I tried the following variations:

[Left] Caramel colouring (E150) - [Right] Dark soy sauce - [Bottom] No colouring added
  1. Caramel colouring (E150) - E150 in picture
  • The best looking and no discernible taste difference
  1. No colouring added - Natural in picture
  • Visually acceptable
  1. Dark soy sauce - Dark soy in picture
  • 3 tablespoons were needed in a small sample to make only a slight colour change. The taste was Ok but excessive amount would be

needed to make any difference in 2 litres of pickle.

Failures (not pictured):

  1. Light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons were needed in a small sample to make only a slight colour change. The result was far too salty
  1. Gravy granules
  • When pre-mixed in a small amount of water the colour was lighter than the uncoloured pickle and it smelt like a Sunday roast - not how I want my pickle smelling! I did not bother to mix this with the pickle.

2nd batch - variations

Making a second batch with slight variations (just 'cos I can). I will update original recipe if it is an improvement.

  • (increase) 10 cloves of garlic
  • (decrease) 2 scant teaspoons of allspice
  • (extra) 1 cup prunes
  • (decrease) teaspoons allspice
  • (variation) muscovado sugar
  • (increase) 340g jar of mini gherkins together with vinegar, et al (see notes)

I'm not convinced that pickled gherkins are required (in a pickle?) but as I had a jar spare, I added the whole jar, vinegar 'n all.

Very interesting - thanks for all that hard work!! --Roses2at 13:31, 31 July 2010 (BST)

Questions from a visitor


My problem is with the vague bottling instructions. Bottle in sterilized jars...and then what? Boiling water bath for ? minutes? Pressure can? Store in refrigerator? What's safe?"

My reply

I'm not sure that there is any more information I can give you.

  • Allow the pickle to cool
  • Bottle in sterilised jars
  • Cap the jars and ensure they are sealed
  • Store in a dark place [no need to refrigerate]

My pickles seem to last for about a year (unopened) though after that, they tend to lose their edge.

I have added a link to sterilisation in the article and include a little of the relevant text below:

I can't comment on the safety aspect I am no expert on that subject. If that concerns you, I would do some independent research.

I hope this helps

'Boiling to sterilise jars and utensils' Whilst an imperfect method of sterilisation, for the purpose of home bottling and preserving, immersing the bottles and caps in boiling water should be sufficient.

Another method is to wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water, rinse and then heat in the oven (180° C - 350° F - Gas 4 - Moderate/Medium) for 5 minutes.

A full wash cycle at the highest temperature in a dishwasher should be enough to sterilise pickling jars, just ensure they are dish washer safe.

Colour and drying out

I have added a query from a visitor [clivery] and my comments - please feel free to add further wisdom. --Chef 13:38, 29 November 2010 (GMT)

"Made up first batch of Branston Pickle, drove my wife(an American) out of the house. Disappointing first with the colour which the caramel colouring should take care of but the pickles was dryish after being stored for a month in sealed bottles. I have tried adding more London Pub Malt Vinegar after opening a jar, yech! I have also tried adding some Brown Steak Sauce to a jar, better but not right although I think adding it to the pot during cooking would work wonders. Have to wait until my wife is out visiting before trying this again"

As far as colouring goes, I don't have much experience with using caramel colouring (this is the only time I have used it). However, I imagine that the strength of colouring could differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. I would say that whatever colour it is when you add the colouring is the colour that it will be forever. It won't change much even after bottling so if it needs 'colour adjustment', do that when you make it. Caramel colouring does not seem to have much taste so it probably won't hurt to add a little more if it needs to be darker. (Though I would read whatever the manufacturer says first.)

Regards to drying out, I just checked my August batch and it seems to be the same consistency as when I bottled it. Again, any adjustment to the consistency is probably best done at time of production, bearing in mind that it may dry a little.

One final idea: Cutting paper circles out of greaseproof paper and laying on the surface of the pickle before sealing may help prevent drying out.

--Chef 13:38, 29 November 2010 (GMT)

Email from Jacqui

i found myself a bit short of moisture to add the arrowroot to, and had the issue of caramel colouring to deal with, i made a half batch, but i think i had too many veg for the liquid content.

knowing that worcester sauce has tamarind in it, i added a large tablespoon of concentrated Tamarind paste to it (in place of the caramel coloring)... and i think it tastes spot on, no need for the arrowroot and the colour is very dark, with no odd taste...

im pleased as punch with my attempt


I've just made a 5th batch, using 6 dried Chile de Árbol. This batch seems quite hot at first tasting, so I am going to reduce the qty to 4 (small) dried Chile de Árbol.

2022 variation

  • No turnips
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 6 plums
  • Box of dates
  • Lime juice instead of lemon juice
  • Additional malt vinegar as quantity larger