Mrs. Bug's Piccalilli from The Fiery Cross

Mrs. Bug's Piccalilli from The Fiery Cross

He laughed, handing her a biscuit filled with ham and Mrs. Bug's piccalilli.

"How Pizza Came to the Colonies," he said, and lifted the cider bottle in brief salute.  "Folk always wonder where humanity's great inventions come from; now we know!" 

He spoke lightly, but there was an odd tone in his voice, and his glance held hers.

"Maybe we do know," she said softly, after a moment.  "You ever think about it -- why?  Why we're here?"

"Of course."  the green of his eyes was darker now, but still clear.  "So do you, aye?"

She nodded, and took a bite of biscuit and ham, the piccalilli sweet with onion and pungent in her mouth.  Of course they thought of it.  She and Roger and her mother.  For surely it had meaning, that passage through the stones.  It must.  And yet...her parents seldom spoke of war and battle, but from the little they said -- and the much greater quantity she had read -- she knew just how random and how pointless such things could sometimes be.  Sometimes a shadow rises, and death lies nameless in the dark.

Roger crumbled the last of his bread between his fingers, and tossed the crumbs a few feet away.  A chickadee flew down, pecked once, and was joined within seconds by a flock that swooped down out of the trees, vacuuming up the crumbs with chattering efficiency.  He stretched, sighing, and lay back on the quilt.

"Well," he said, "if you ever figure it out, ye'll be sure to tell me, won't you?"

The Fiery Cross, Chapter 20

Some pretty deep thoughts there, Bri & Roger, considering it's only cider with lunch and you haven't even started drinking the strong stuff yet...

When I think of piccalilli, my thoughts tend to wander away from earth shattering topics like time travel and more towards Christmas gift giving.

Tie a red-velvet ribbon around a mason jar full Murdina Bug's piccalilli, and you have a beautiful (and sharply delicious) Outlander-themed gift straight from Fraser's Ridge.

After all, if I made treats for Rollo, then I had better come up with something for friends and family, aye?


Indian Pickle, an earlier name for Piccalilli, gives you an insight into this golden-coloured, mustard flavoured condiment's origins in Britain's colonial past.  Also known as Paco-Lilla and Piccalillo, it makes an appearance in a number of 18th Century cookery books.

Here's an excerpt from an early receipt for Indian Pickle from Cookery, and Pastry. as Taught and Practised by Mrs Maciver, Teacher of Those Arts in Edinburgh.  (1774):


I left the cabbage out of this version, and decided on a simple mix of cauliflower, onion, green beans and cucumber.  I added a bit of grated carrot for colour, and left the sugar out altogether.  I'm so glad I did -- the sharp tang of the mustard is foiled perfectly by the sweetness in the onion, cucumber and carrot -- no sugar required.

I had also planned to use pearl onions, but when I got to the store, they were so expensive that I balked and chose plain old yellow ones instead.  Another decision that worked out well.  Pearl onions are sweet and lovely, but they're a pain to peel and also very bulky when you're trying to put together a sandwich. I chopped all of my vegetables on the small side for the same reason.  If you like it chunky, cut everything a little bigger, use pearl onions, and cook it for an extra couple of minutes.


Show/Hide Comments


08 Dec 2011 - 3:09pm

Kiri W.

Wow, that looks really flavorful and delicious! I've never had piccalilli, but would love to try :)


From what I've seen, you like big, bold flavours, Kiri...I'm pretty sure you'll love piccalilli...Theresa

08 Dec 2011 - 4:44pm

Lee Ann

Ooh...tumeric..good for the joints and digestion! I love the idea of this but not sure I'm up to the canning process!


So cool to have an apprenticed herbalist weigh`s almost like having Claire here! nnAs for the canning process, check out the New School tips below the recipe, where I explain that you don't have to can it -- Piccalilli will keep for several weeks in the fridge without going through the canning process. If you`re not into canning, maybe just make a half a recipe? That will give you a couple of small jars to give away, and a big one to keep in your fridge! Theresa

Lee Ann

I aspire to be like Claire ;) I really would like to try this...sounds delightful. I think the half recipe might be the way to go. Perhaps I need to re-adjust my gift ideas (I have been thinking about herb- infused honeys, oils and of course alcohol!) I think Claire would approve!

08 Dec 2011 - 4:54pm

The Mom Chef …

No sugar needed in my piccalilli! This looks amazing. I love the color. I don't know why I was originally surprised by it when turmeric is in the ingredient list. That original recipe is amazing. What an insight into how life once was.

08 Dec 2011 - 5:22pm


This page just gets better and better!!!I LOVE IT!..Thanks again for sharing cool stuff!


Thanks very much Vickie! Everyone out there should know about Vickie's facebook group, If you like to connect with Outlander fans to talk about the books, food, customs, Scotland and potential actors for the role of Jamie, check it out...we have a lot of fun.

09 Dec 2011 - 12:01am


This looks delicious (and beautiful)! I'm so excited that it's vegetarian, too. I have a few friends that I always cook for as holiday gifts and this is the perfect recipe. It will also perpetuate my reputation as the crazy Outlander lady ;)


I'm glad to know I'm not the only with with that kind of reputation, Bri! Theresa

11 Dec 2011 - 4:30pm


Lovely! Piccalilli also reminds me of the All Creatures Great and Small books, where James Herriott was served a large slice of fatty ham by a farmer's wife and couldn't tell her he was on a diet, so he forced the stuff down by covering it in piccalilli!


I grew up watching All Creatures with my mom & dad...thanks for the great memory, deniz!

17 Dec 2011 - 9:40pm


Yum, I love pickled veges and mustard (memories of Indian chutneys I ate as a child). I've started giving away Bread & Butter Pickles that are just a tad sweet and very savory, but I've had a hard time growing cucumbers. I think this recipe would do well with some of the things I do have on hand: green beans, radishes, kohlarabi, garlic, corn...will bookmark this one to revisit during the next garden/canning season. Thanks!


That`s the spirit Laura! Make it a local & seasonal piccalilli with the bounty from your own garden...

08 Jul 2014 - 4:37pm

Outlander on …

Piccalilli is a British adaptation of an Indian pickle. Its a delicious, mustard-based relish thats full of veggies and a great choice to balance all of that meat on the bun!

08 Aug 2014 - 11:03pm


I just bought a jar of this to try from the grocery store and while nice, the vinegar in it was overpowering. Is that traditional, or is your version more mellow? Are any other veg good in it, even if not traditional?


Most versions are vinegary, including this one, but it's usually on a sandwich, so the other ingredients mellow that sharp taste. It's not something I would eat straight from the jar, though my English husband does!nnI guess you could throw whatever veggies you want in there...experiment and have fun!


I had it on a sandwich, but I think the vinegar even overpowered the mustard (Haywards). But maybe its the type they use. But I've gotten into mustard lately, and it seems the thing for me.

28 Nov 2015 - 5:33pm


I made this recipe and just tried it after storing for a month. It is fabulous, better than Heinz and the veg is crunchier. Thanks a million for the recipe. Can't wait for Outlander Series 2!!

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