At Dalriata, the products we really like to offer are those that are not merely food, but which evoke memories or emotions in our customers. Of course, everybody’s different, and you can never tell which product will spark nostalgia. Customers have sent us lovely videos extolling the pleasures of Clonakilty sausages in a sandwich, washed down with a hot cup of Lyon’s Tea. For others, it could be Club Milk biscuits, or the humble custard cream.
For us, it’s Branston Pickle. It brings back memories of foggy, chilly days at university, enjoying down to a nice bit of crusty bread, some cheddar cheese, and a good thick coating of Branston Pickle to brighten up proceedings. A Granny Smith and a tall glass of ice cold milk completed a out a basic but delicious lunch. With four busy students sharing the flat, we got through buckets of Branston and piles of pickle sandwiches, Branston really helped get us through our degree, and for that we’ll be forever grateful.
It’s not just us that loves the stuff, either – Branston Pickle’s one of the most popular products in our Berlin store, as well as online. But for some of our customers, regular Branston is a little too… chunky. They prefer it smoother. Just for them, we’re also proud to offer the Branston Pickle Small Chunk. If you’re still unconvinced by the Branston magic, this might just change your mind!
What is Branston Pickle?
Branston Pickle originally hails from Branston in Staffordshire, near the birthplace of that other weird and wonderful British foodstuff, Marmite. It’s not a completely unique thing – sweet pickle is found with minor variations in many parts of the country, but this particular recipe is said to be the invention of a Branston woman and her daughters. As the story goes, their family recipe was first adapted for commercial production around a hundred years ago. Manufacturers Crosse and Blackwell were big producers of canned vegetables, and they used the leftovers from this to make sweet, tangy Branston Pickle.
Although it was popular from its inception, Branston Pickle really became a staple of British households during World War II, as it was one of only a few products which were not subject to food rationing. This meant that people could buy as much of it as they liked, and soon enough it seemed like everybody was bringing out the Branston.
Nowadays the production base has moved from its original home in the Midlands to East Anglia, and instead is made in the picturesque town of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
It’s made to a recipe that remains a secret, so we don’t know exactly what’s going on in there, but it contains various fruits and vegetables such as apple, carrot, rutabaga (or swede), onion and cauliflower. In this Small Chunk version, these fruits and vegetables are chopped up more finely, making for a more pulpy, almost jam-like texture. Just like the original variety, they’re suspended in a thick, gooey sauce containing vinegar, date paste, tomatoes, and just a squeeze of lemon juice lemon juice, as well as several spices for flavouring. It’s a complex flavour profile, but that’s the beauty of it.
What does Branston Pickle taste like?
Some people would argue that “Branston Pickle” isn’t a good name name for something which is really a relish, and that if you buy Branston expecting it to be along the lines of, for example, dill pickle, you’ll be in for a surprise. Other people will swear that it’s more like a chutney, and they may have a point – it certainly has a similar consistency to chutney, especially in this small chunk variety. But never mind the name – the most important thing is that it’s delicious! Certainly, Branston is a complex and subtle thing. It’s sweet, sour, salty and even just a little bit smoky.
What’s the best way to enjoy Branston Pickle?
You can’t go wrong with a bit of Branston in a cheese sandwich. It’s the perfect addition to some tangy, sharp cheddar cheese, but you can put it in almost any sandwich and it will brighten it up. It’s also ideal alongside cold cuts, so you could surprise your guests by serving some up with a charcuterie board. Or try the classic ploughman’s lunch, a light meal often served in British pubs. This usually consists of fresh crusty bread, salad, cold meats, cheese, and most importantly, Branston Pickle!
There’s a good reason why this stuff is the UK’s favourite pickle. Once you’ve discovered Branston Pickle, sandwiches seem boring without it!