Flavored with dry mustard and turmeric, and featuring a thickened brine, these slightly sweet and very sharp mustard pickles are the condiment you didn’t know you were looking for!
Until a copy of Matty Matheson: A Cookbook landed in my mailbox, mustard pickles were not really on my radar. I’d heard people reference them before, but they’d never registered any interest or curiosity on my part. Then, as I flipped through this book (a really gorgeous, personal, interesting volume), Matty’s recipe for mustard pickles caught my eye.
They seem like a fairly standard mixed pickle at first. Onions, cauliflower, cucumber, sugar, and vinegar. But then, I read down further, I spotted cornstarch. A thickener? In a pickle? I did a little reading and discovered that this is a really traditional pickle in parts of Canada and it’s often used in places where one might use ketchup.
I decided I had to try a batch. Now, because of that cornstarch, I knew I’d have to make them as a fridge pickle rather than a preserved one (unmodified cornstarch isn’t heat stable and because it increases the density, it throws everything we know about processing times for pickles into question).
I have reprinted the recipe below exactly as it is written in the book, but I advise that if you make this recipe, you follow my lead and consider this a fridge pickle. Matty’s instructions tell you to use an open kettle method (fill jars, cap, and let the residual heat create the seal), which isn’t thought to be safe by current safety guidelines.
I chopped cucumbers, cauliflower, and shallots (fresh pearl onions were not to be found), and combined them with the sugar and vinegar. I added the mustard powder, turmeric, and salt and brought it to a simmer for 15 minutes to soften. While it cooked, I combined 1/2 cup cornstarch with a couple tablespoons of water.
When the veg was sufficiently softened, I turned off the heat and whisked in the cornstarch slurry. I believe this is a spot where my electric stove led me a little astray. Because it takes a while to cool down, the veg was still quite hot and so the cornstarch thickened a heck of a lot. My mustard pickles ended up being a little pudding-y. I don’t believe that’s the desired texture.
Still, the flavor is good and I have every confidence that we’ll manage to eat through these pickles, gloppy though they might be.
Disclosure: I was given a review copy of this book as part of my participation in the Abrams Dinner Party. No additional payment was received and all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Mustard Pickles from Matty Matheson: A Cookbook
- 2 cups 300 g pearl onions, sliced 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
- 2 cups 200 g cauliflower, cut in 1/4 inch (6 mm) pieces
- 2 ups 300 g small cucumbers, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
- 1 cup 240 ml white vinegar
- 1/2 cup 100g granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup 65 g cornstarch
- In a Large pot, place the onions, cauliflower, and cucumbers. Add the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, turmeric, and salt. Simmer gently until tender, about 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with about 2 tablespoons of water to make a slurry, then whisk the slurry into the vinegar mixture.
- While the mixture is hot, pour it into the Mason jars, cap them, and listen for the "doink" when the cap is pulled in by the cooling of the pickles.
- After about 15 minutes, test the tops with a gentle push to make sure they're sucked in. Don't worry: For any that aren't, you can refrigerate or you can reheat and re-cap.
- Store your pickles in a cool, dry, dark place. [FIJ note: Please do refrigerate these jars, none of this is proper canning procedure.]