Spiced Runner Bean Piccalilli

If you grow your own runner beans you will know that they are a bit like growing courgettes – they are the gift that keeps on giving   Just a few vines and you have runner beans all summer long

As much as I love them there comes a point when there are protests at the thought of runner beans for supper yet again (let alone for breakfast and lunch) and even friends and neighbours don’t want a bag of them.  So I needed ideas as to how to deal with the surplus   I have frozen some (strung and cut to size, blanched for two minutes, then open freeze on trays so beans don’t clump, before putting into small bags to be cooked from frozen later) but frozen beans aren’t as good as fresh and don’t seem right in the depths of January so freezing has limited appeal.  So what else can be done with the surplus?

I have to admit that for years I turned my nose up at pickling runner beans   The only experience I had had of eating them was of being given a jar of runner beans turned into a brown, vinegary mush which was not, quite frankly, very nice and certainly not what I wanted to condemn my home grown beans to.  So I tinkered and adapted existing recipes until I came up with this – and whilst it may not be revolutionary, I am really pleased with it

I call it a piccalilli as this is what it resembles   The beans are crisp, fresh and crunchy covered it a light mustardy sauce which is even the same yellow colour as traditional piccalilli.

I know I say in the recipe “keep for at least a month before eating” but I couldn’t wait that long and so I can vouch for it tasting wonderful after just a week   I know as it matures it will get even better and it will be pretty hard for me to resist until Christmas (which is when it is meant to be at its peak) as an accompaniment to cold turkey

Ps I actually am planning to have roast chicken next Sunday so I have an excuse to try the spiced runner bean piccalilli with the leftovers!!



  • 750g runner beans
  • 2 onions
  • 150ml distilled malt vinegar
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seed
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 1 tbsp English mustard powder
  • 2 tsp grain mustard
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 150ml cider vinegar
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp salt
  • 250g tomatoes
  • 30g cornflour



  1. String the beans and thinly slice on the diagonal as usual
  2. Peel and chop the onions, putting into a large saucepan together with distilled malt vinegar, coriander seeds, yellow mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds.  Bring to boil and then simmer for 10 mins
  3. Mix remaining mustards, allspice, turmeric, sugar, salt and half cider vinegar in small bowl
  4. Dice (no need to skin) tomatoes and add to vinegar and onion mix.  Add beans and mustard mixture and stir to combine thoroughly
  5. Simmer for 5 mins.
  6. Make a smooth mix with cornflour and remaining cider vinegar and then add to pan
  7. Cook for a further 10 mins, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens
  8. Store for at least a month before eating



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