A British cupboard is incomplete without its condiments. They believe in keeping a few hand-selected and hand-made classics that never fail to amaze by their special taste. With a rich culinary heritage spanning centuries, the British condiments have become a significant part of the nation's culinary identity. What sets them apart is their diverse flavours ranging from tangy to pungent and savoury to sweet. Every condiment is distinct, and most of them are carefully prepared using unique combinations of ingredients and traditional recipes, which ensure a depth of flavour that perfectly complements British dishes. The love and appreciation for condiments in British culture have led to a broad variety of options. Every condiment has its own special taste and purpose that make them an essential element in elevating the flavours of meals and creating a truly British culinary experience.
HP Sauce is one of the UK's most loved brown sauces. Ever since it was created in 1899 by Frederick Gibson Garton, it has been enjoyed by people with a variety of dishes. It blends a malt vinegar base with tomato, dates, tamarind extract, sweetener, and some spices. Garton had it registered the name 'HP Sauce,' claiming it was served in Parliament. Later he sold the recipe to settle a debt. More than 28 million bottles of HP sauce is consumed annually, and if the same were stacked, they would reach the height of 6,189 Houses of Parliament. HP Sauce has expanded its range to include milder versions, reduced salt and sugar options, and even BBQ and pepper sauces. It is often enjoyed with meat pies, French fries, burgers, sausage rolls, baked beans, sandwiches, etc.
Branston Pickle was first created by a British food company known as Crosse & Blackwell in 1922. The recipe was developed by Fred and Edmund Wilkinson in the village of Branston, Staffordshire, hence the name "Branston Pickle”. The pickle is a combination of diced vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, gherkins, and onions that are marinated in vinegar, spices, and sugar. It has a wonderful tangy and sweet taste that is best enjoyed with cold meats, cheese sandwiches, savoury pies, and ploughman's lunch.
3. English Mustard: A Fiery Favourite
English Mustard is famous for its intense heat and sharp tang. It is made from a combination of ground mustard seeds, vinegar, and water. It has a fiery flavour which adds an interesting taste to the dishes. Colman's is the most well-known brand of English Mustard. It was founded by Jeremiah Colman in 1814 in Norwich, England. It is recognized for its distinctive yellow packaging. People love to add mustard to barbecue and grilled meats, cheese and crackers, sausages, cold meat, fish and chips, meat pies, roasted beef, sandwiches, and more.
4. Mint Sauce: A Refreshing Twist
Mint sauce is a simple yet such interesting sauce that bursts with flavours and freshness. Very few ingredients are used in making this sauce – fresh mint leaves, vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt. People like to use fresh mint leaves from their kitchen garden to prepare this sauce. Traditionally mint sauce in Britain is served along with lamb roast. However, the sauce is also enjoyed with other dishes like roast meats, roasted vegetables, spring rolls, samosas, and more.
Marmite is made from yeast extract, which is a by-product of brewing beer. The yeast is concentrated, filtered, and blended with some ingredients to create the final product. The natural fermentation process of the yeast gives Marmite a very distinct taste. It was first created in the late 19th century in Staffordshire, England. It was originally developed to utilize yeast waste from brewing, and a German scientist named Justus von Liebig turned it into a commercial product. It is very rich in B Vitamins and highly nutritious. It is enjoyed as a sandwich filling or spread on toast, but the British also add it in marinades, gravies, and stews.
6. Worcestershire: Sauce A Flavour Powerhouse
Worcestershire Sauce was created by chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins in Worcester, England. They initially made it for a customer who wanted a tangy sauce with Indian flavours, but the sauce soon became famous nationwide. The exact recipe is closely guarded and known to very few people, but some of the ingredients of the sauce include molasses, anchovies, vinegar, garlic, onion, tamarind, and some spices. It is the fermentation process after its preparation that gives this sauce a distinct flavour. It is enjoyed with Bloody Mary cocktails, marinades, stir-fries, stews, and grilled meats.
7. Redcurrant Jelly: A Sweet Accompaniment
Known for their tart taste, the redcurrants are small round berries used to prepare redcurrant jelly. The juice of the fruits is extracted, strained, and cooked with sugar till it gets a jelly-like consistency and stored in bottles for use. The jelly is sweet and tangy in taste and is often enjoyed with roast meats. It is also used in desserts and as a topping for scones.
The history of Piccalilli dates back to the 18th century. It is believed to have originated from British colonial influence from Indian pickles known as "achar." The word "piccalilli" is derived from the Hindi word "pachranga," which means "five colours." It is a very colourful condiment as it is made from chopped vegetables like green beans, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, and onions. The vegetables are stored in a solution made from vinegar, mustard, turmeric, and various spices. Piccalilli is a versatile condiment that can be enjoyed with a range of dishes. It pairs well with cold cuts of meat, sandwiches, cheese platters, and sometimes Indian curries.
A Flavourful Finale
Golden Syrup, Bisto Gravy, Reggae Reggae Sauce, along a few more condiments, are also quite popular in the UK. Condiments are more than just flavour enhancers. They add flavour to the dishes and make them exciting for our taste palette. They elevate our dining experience, and were it not for the condiments, the dishes wouldn't be so flavourful and delicious.