Saturday, November 12, 2005


Branston Pickle (Ploughman's Lunch)

My juicy peach of a cousin, the indomitable Va-Voom, who is residing in London these days (oh what a glam life that chicky leads!) is constantly reminding me of the dramatic differences between their comfort foods and ours (ours meaning us kids residing in the US of A, theirs being England). And even going past comfort foods, just to every day staples, the variations can be astonishing culture by culture.

Which leads me to that British favorite (I tried to add the extra "u" in there, but I can't seem to figure out where it would go. My English teachers would be so proud), Branston Pickle. I've mentioned it before of course, and I would hardly say it's something the Brits claim as a national dish, or even particularly indicative of their culture, but I doubt any of them would deny that along with HP sauce (another ubiquitous brown condiment) it is so ingrained in the fabric of their lives, that they hardly know it's there, until they leave the comfort of their shores and end up someplace it is not...and that my friends, is where cravings originate. Wanting that foodstuff you may not be able to find. It can bring a tear to your eye.

When I was living deep in the heart of the West Midlands, (an area in the UK) this past summer (Why? Simple. I'm a silly girl) I had the great fortune to eat a lot of Branston Pickle and Cheddar Cheese sandwiches. I ate so many in fact, I had to start going to the gym twice a day just to combat any negative affects. (Well, that and the excessive drinking those Brits led me to, what with every night ending up in a pub and all) I came to love the combination of sharp, crumbly local cheddar, and the tangy-sweet-crunchy, thick taste of this combination of fruit and vegetables, vinegar and sugar.

In my quest to find this stuff, to make this sandwich, in ex-pat heavy Santa Monica, I still had to visit three stores (though, in fairness, it was sold out at the first spot) and plunk down $6.00 for a jar of this delight. And it is, in fact, a delight. I havent actually found any other things to do with it other than this, but as this is so sublime, I figure I'll stick with it. And of course, I strongly suggest you seek out a jar of it out in your town. It will be a pantry staple for sure. Try it, and enjoy.

1 small roll (I used cibatta)
Branston Pickle
Cheddar Cheese

Compose as you would any sandwich. Serve with gerkins (small pickles), grapes, apples, almonds and a beer. British delight will ensue.


Check out this excellently angry tirade and slew of responses regarding a Ploughmans Lunch recipe at Epicurious.

A ploughman's lunch is a midday meal often served in an English pub. The first citation in the Oxford English Dictionary of this phrase dates from 1837. The OED's next citation is from 1970, indicating a long period of time when the meal was virtually unknown. It is this long disuse and recent rediscovery that has lead some people to portray the dish as being a recent invention dressed up as a traditional meal. A ploughman's lunch usually consists of a lump of cheese (usually Cheddar or Stilton), pickle (often Branston Pickle) and salad, accompanied by crusty bread and butter. - Wikipedia

900 new restaurants open each year in Los Angeles. 60% of them go out of business within 5 years. In the next five years, 60% of the remaining restaurants go under.

In Orange County, CA more than two dozen Japanese American farming families will be honored Sunday for their contributions to California's $1.3-billion strawberry industry. Japanese farmers started strawberry farming the early 1900s along the entire West Coast,
and came to dominate strawberry farming since. Now, Latinos have replaced Japanese Americans as the industry's dominant players. They now make up more than 56% of the state's 518 strawberry growers, compared with 14% for Japanese Americans. - Los Angeles Times

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Oh I love that too! I have lived in London several times and I have missed this since then! Why can't you find out how to MAKE it?? It's impossible for me to find here in Italy...
People of thee U.S of AAAA....Welcome to the good stuff!

I love Branston Pickle. I just don't understand what makes it a pickle.
A pickle is anything marinaded in vinegar and stored. Thus the true name for what Americans call pickles is 'pickled cucumbers', which you see sometimes in England on jars, but more often we call them 'gherkins' or sometimes 'dill pickles'. Not that I'm saying one or the other is correct, I think it's just that traditionally in England we tend to make more pickled foods - onions and eggs for example.
I love this pickle! First had it with scotch eggs at a english type pub in the U.S. It's great with meatloaf too. Probably goes with any kind of meat hot or cold. Have to try that sandwich or maybe just the cheese and pickle on crackers.
Came here by chance looking for recipes with Branston Pickle. We usually buy ours from the British Shop or sometimes Lunarndi's or smuggle it back in a suitcase after a holiday. However, I came across a huge jar of it = 2.55 Kilograms and I couldn't resist buying it. The jar is about the same size as my head. We'll be eating ploughman's lunches until the cows come home or are made into burgers.
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