Making your own Branston Pickle

This is an unashamed attempt to re-create the famous Branston Pickle.  Obviously it's not exactly the same as the commercial stuff, my last batch was a little spicier than the real thing, but it has all the sweet/sour balance of its namesake with the trademark crunchy cubes and goes very well with ham!  As it is only an homage to the pantry classic, I decided it needed another name; after thoughts of puns concerning Richard Branson (95% Tax Free anyone) ... I settled on Grandson Pickle as it might be a nice present for my son to give his grandad for Christmas as he helped grow the veg in a small way.

Making pickles is never an exact science, they are designed to take gluts of vegetables in the summer and preserve them so they are a delicious treat in the winter.  Sometimes you have more of one thing than you normally would or the vegetables can be different sizes, have different water contents and the recipe will need a little tweaking here and there every time.

The amounts here are what I used for the last batch.  But if in doubt try adding a little less of the sugar, salt and spices and taste to see if it really does taste like Branston Pickle.  You can always add these, but you cannot take them away.


10 Carrots (large), diced 
4 regular Kohl Rabi (or Swede), diced 
6 Apples, cored, peeled and chopped
12 Tomatoes, blended and seived 
4 Onions, chopped 
2 Cucumbers, chopped 
10 cloves Garlic, pressed 
750 milliliters Cider Vinegar
700 grams Dark Brown Sugar
3 teaspoons Salt 
A good pinch of Black pepper 
2 teaspoons English mustard powder 
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper 
2 tablespoons Ground Allspice 
1 tablespoon Ground Cinnamon 
1 Nutmeg, grated 
1 teaspoon Ground cloves 
300 grams Date Nectar 
4 tablespoons Cornflour 
Gravy Browning

Prepare the jars as you would for jam-making by washing in hot water and placing in an oven at 90ºC to dry. Take the lids and boil them in a saucepan.  

Begin by preparing the apples and tomatoes. Cook the apple flesh with a little water until it breaks down as for stewed apple, then add the sieved blended tomato and reduce until thick.  While that's simmering, dice the remaining vegetables and place in a large pan with the vinegar, salt, sugar and spices. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes to soften the vegetables. Then add the tomato/apple mix and the date nectar. Taste and adjust salt, sugar, or spice seasoning if necessary and return to the boil.

Reduce the boil to a gentle simmer, remove a little of the liquid and allow to cool. Then blend it with the cornflour to make a thin batter and return to the simmering pot, stirring in well. Keep stirring until the whole pickle thickens. Make up and add a little more cornflour and water paste if it is not quite thick enough. Then add the gravy browning until the whole gooey mess turns a rich dark brown just like Branston Pickle.

Remove the jars from the oven and ladle the pickle in to them while they are still hot. Fasten the lids immediately.  It will keep for years if the lids are properly sealed.

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