In a pickle

My father-in-law who sadly I never knew, was renowned in the family for being a terrible cook; his Christmas dinner when mother-in-law was in hospital was a chicken out of a tin – a whole chicken, in jelly, in a tin… he was so happy when his beloved wife came home, and not just because he had missed her! There is the famous family tale of his attempt to make marrow rum by hollowing out a marrow, filling it with brown sugar, securing it back together again, a small hole in the bottom though which was supposed to drip the rum… The sugar-stuffed marrow was suspended in an old stocking from a rafter in the loft. No-one ever knew if the recipe worked as the whole thing exploded showering everything in the loft with sticky semi-dissolved sugar and marrow.. and bits of marrow skin…

During the was he in the merchant nave and captained a river class frigate off the coast of West Africa. He brought home ‘The Congo Cookery Book’ for his wife. It was compiled and written by Clare F. Willett, published in Léopoldville, now Kinshasa, in what was then Belgian Congo, and most of the recipes are how to make ‘British’ and European style food from the local ingredients.

In the section on pickles, top of the list is tomato ketchup (made with tomatoes, onions, salt, mustard, cinnamon, celery salt, red pepper, paprika, allspice, cloves, vinegar and sugar) many of the ingredients would have been imported from Blighty! There are recipes for mango chutney and mango pickle, a spiced papaya pickle with cinnamon, cloves and allspice, and then this very simple recipe for banana pickle:

Banana pickle

  • bananas (quantity not specified, so guess according to the amount of liquor you have!) cut in small pieces (not specified how small – I would like it quite chunky, a piece which would sit on a dessert spoon rather than a teaspoon)
  • 5 fl oz vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • a piece of cinnamon stick
  • 5 or 6 cloves
  1. boil all the above ingredients apart from the bananas, for 15 mins
  2. put the bananas in a pan and pour over the spiced vinegar, bring back to the boil
  3. let the pickle cool
  4. serve with fowl, duck ‘or meat of a similar character’

I might try this but I would substitute mace for cinnamon as it is not a spice I care for! I think I would use a cider, wine or sherry vinegar, not malt for this recipe.

PS I do have some bananas in need of being used… maybe I will try this tomorrow!


  1. david lewis

    I love bananas and pickles but pickled bananas? My wife makes me pickles in brine instead of vinegar. Every night I eat the pickle and then a banana and no longer have pain and shaking in my legs all night. Also calcium and magnesium and vitamin d3. Keeps your electrolites in balance.Works!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. david lewis

    My favorite is mustard pickles. It has cauliflower, pearl onions, red and green peppers, and yellow beans all in a mustard sauce.Pickle beets, dill pickles and pickles in brine. My Mother tried making mustard pickles for years without success but the first time for my wife and they were perfect.I’m sure lucky!!

    Liked by 2 people

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