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What is Branston Pickle?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Branston pickle is a form of pickled relish that is extremely popular in Southern England. It contains an assortment of mixed pickled vegetables, blended with various spices in a thick brown sauce, leading many people to confuse it with chutney. In Britain, this relish is readily available at most markets; outside of England, it's stocked by some importers and large markets, and it can also be ordered through companies that specialize in food imports.

This food is named for its original manufacturer, the Branston brand, which was acquired in 2004 by Premier Foods. Because the brand has come to be associated so intimately with Branston pickle, Premier Foods retained the name and expanded the line of Branston branded foods. In Britain, the relish is often referred to simply as “pickle,” which may help to demystify “cheese and pickle sandwiches” for those outside of the country.

Like other pickled foods, the key ingredients in Branston pickle are salt, sugar and vinegar to preserve the food. It also includes cucumbers, cauliflower, onions, rutabagas, tomatoes, apples, and dates, with a tangy sauce that typically has mustard, pepper, nutmeg, garlic, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and cloves. The relish is quite sweet, it contains a small amount of salt and a much greater amount of sugar. In fact, companies that imitate it usually call their products “sweet pickle,” to avoid being viewed as competitors for the brand's market share.

The first Branston pickle was manufacturered in 1922, and it proved to be an enduring hit. While the company has tinkered with the recipe a bit, even briefly offering a spicy variety, it has remained much the same over the decades. In addition to producing an “original chunk” version with large pieces of vegetables, Premier Foods also makes a small chunk variety that is designed for use in sandwiches, along with a pureed smooth relish.

One of the most classic uses for Branston pickle is in sandwiches, although it can be used with other foods as well. As with other pickled foods, as long as a jar is unopened and kept in a reasonably cool place, it should stay good. Once opened, it should be refrigerated and used within about six weeks.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon997159 — On Nov 22, 2016

"Is branston pickle truly safe for celiacs? who's tested it?"

My Aunt and my cousin (wife's side) are celiacs and have been eating it for years - no problem.

By anon989365 — On Mar 03, 2015

I don't mind sending Branston Pickle (or any of its variations, or Picallilli) abroad for people who can't get it abroad.

By anon349619 — On Sep 27, 2013

Any British import food store will sell Branston pickle. There are a few online British Import stores as well that I used to order from. I don't know about PA but in Illinois, you can buy it at Cost Plus World Market. If your grocery store has a British import section, you might find it there.

It looks like you can also get it from Amazon.

My family has generally eaten it on cheese sandwiches (with butter and branston pickle) or with a snack of bread, cheese and fruit.

By anon335696 — On May 22, 2013

About 43 years ago, I used to love piccalilli sauce. Does anyone still make this product? I have been fancying some for ages now but have never seen any.

By anon216108 — On Sep 20, 2011

Wegmans carries marmite.

By anon114785 — On Sep 29, 2010

Is branston pickle truly safe for coeliacs? who's tested it?

By anon113986 — On Sep 27, 2010

Yes, Barbara, you can find Branston Pickle in Pennsylvania. I just bought some today, in fact! Giant Eagle Marketplace stores are sure to carry it, though many of the larger "regular" Giant Eagle stores carry it in their international aisle, next to the other Brit foods, like HP Sauce or canned Treacle. Now can anyone tell me where I can find Marmite in PA?

By anon107576 — On Aug 30, 2010

I had Branston pickle for the first time over thirty years ago in England and was immediately enamored by it. The special blend of sweet and pungent spices is so great. Everyone laughed at me because I would even eat it for breakfast. Cross and Blackwell makes a great one, and can be found in specialty grocery stores or online.

By anon62345 — On Jan 26, 2010

I just made my own at home and it's amazing!

By anon42716 — On Aug 23, 2009

Can I find this Branston pickle in U.S Main area of Pennsylvania? thank you. Barbara

By anon40424 — On Aug 08, 2009

This was a informative article about the Branston Pickle! I have eaten it since i was little! I was born and raised in England with all my family then we had to move to America. Since then we have ordered Branston Pickle, and for a while i didn't have anyway to get it! So finally i did! And i love it! Always have and always will!

By anon32158 — On May 17, 2009

fabulous article - i had no idea there were rutabagas in branston pickle!


Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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