British pickle

"Branston Pickle is the UK's best-loved sweet pickle" - Premier Foods

Branston Pickle is a pickle (or chutney) popular in England with cheese, cooked meat and especially ploughman's lunch. It is one of those things, like Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce, HP Sauce and Twiglets, which is high on the list of things most missed by ex-pats, who would give their eye teeth for it.

Made with carrots, cauliflower, gherkins, marrows, onion, rutabaga and tomatoes, and a "secret blend of spices", it goes with almost anything - without Branston, my sandwich life would be dull indeed. Thankfully, a recent development has been a "Sandwich Pickle" with smaller vegetable chunks, which helps reduce sandwich bloat, as well as staying between the slices and out of my lunchbox.

Manufactured by Nestle following their purchase of the Crosse & Blackwell company, it has been around since 1922, and is a perennial favourite, due to its sweet-savoury taste and crisp, 'fresh' texture. Mysteriously, despite aging, the ingredients remain wonderfully crunchy - I once found (following a move) a 4-year old jar in which everything still had that fresh vegetable 'bite'. Given the vinegar and salt, I expected some softening, but then pickling is a strange combination of art, science and magic to me.

It's an icon of British taste, along with HP Sauce - so much so that a Branston-flavoured potato crisp ("chip") was launched in 2002.

Take this product round to a British ex-pat and you'll have a friend for life. (A small 12-ounce jar cost be $4+ at World Market.) Steal my Branston and I'll hunt you down. That's just how good it is.

Update November 2005: The brand is now owned by Premier Foods. Damn me if one day it won't be owned by Sony or Micro$oft.
BlueDragon reminds me that there's now a smooth version as well, which is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike HP Sauce. Should be good with chips. That is, steak fries, not potato crisps.

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