Aunty Mary’s chow chow

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Preparation info

  • Makes about

    3 kg

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Vegetables: The new food heroes


By Peter Gordon

Published 2007

  • About

My aunty Mary much like my paternal grandmother Molly is an expert chutney and relish maker, and this is her recipe. In my home in New Zealand, piccalilli was called chow chow and we used to eat this with cheese and cold meats.


  • 1 medium cauliflower (about 400g), separated into florets
  • 200 g beans, trimmed and halved
  • 8–10 green or unripe red tomatoes, cut into eighths
  • 1 cucumber (about 300g), cut lengthways, then into chunks
  • 6 white onions, thickly sliced
  • 110 g fine table salt
  • 750 ml cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 600 g white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 heaped tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 heaped tablespoon mustard powder


In a large non-reactive bowl, mix the veg with the salt and leave for 5 minutes. Then pour on enough cold water to submerge everything (although the veg will begin to float) and mix well. Cover and leave to cure for 24 hours in a cool place away from sunlight, mixing twice.

Next day, drain in a colander. Have your jars sterilized and filled with hot water. In a large pot, put all but 200 ml of the vinegar, together with the sugar, mustard seeds and pepper. Add the drained vegetables and bring to the boil, stirring often. Cook at a rapid simmer until the cauliflower is almost done (around 5–8 minutes) – you still want it to have a little crunch.

Dissolve the flour, turmeric and mustard powder in the remaining vinegar, then mix this into the vegetables, stirring thoroughly to avoid lumps. Bring to the boil and cook for a further 30 seconds, gently stirring all the time.

Decant into the drained jars and seal while warm. Sit on a tray lined with a tea towel and leave to cool. Store in the fridge and use within 4 months.