Pan Yan Pickle recipe

Happy New Year, at present it’s a very pretty one although I would like the snow to go fairly soon.

I was contacted by quite a few people last year when a jar of pan yan pickle was shown in the background during Kirsties Homemade Christmas.  I was initiated into the story of the lost recipe and the ‘to date’ failure of Premier Foods to reproduce the product once so familiar to so many.  I promised to investigate and eventually blog.

The jar behind me was made by Rose who sells in the local market.  She says her recipe is one passed down to her from her mother, its main constituents are: spiced vinegar, apples, sugar and saltanas.   I searched online and discovered there are variations on this recipe type using curry powder etc

The original recipe taken from ageneric  jar of Pan Yan Pickle shown 19.03.08  on mailonline. is as follows

Rutabagar (swede), sugar, apples, carrots, vinegar, thickener (modified starch) gerkins, acetic acid, peppers, onions, spices, colour (caramel), flavourings.

As I am told the pickle was a fine dice one, I suspect the swede/carrots etc were bought in pre-diced to provide the texture, there would be a background of apple (hence its preponderance in the other recipes ) within an spiced emulsion/sauce.  The recipe would be fairly easy to unpick if I had tasted it.

I like a challenge and if you can tell me your memories of its flavour as precisely as possible I would be happy to have a go at reconstituting it.  This comes with the caviat  that I don’t buy in pre-prepared vegetables so the texture won’t be accurate.

Once I have sufficient feedback to try and work out the ‘spices’ and ‘flavourings’ I will make a batch and put it on the website so it can be sampled.  If it manages to replicate the pickle then I will put the recipe in the book and/or offer it to Premier Foods as it is essentially a pickle for mass production.

If this is too much bother you may like to try Fortnum’s pickle (I was given a jar at Christmas……you have to check out the opposition) Ingredients (not in full): sugar, vinegar, swede, parsnip, carrot, turnip, apple etc a similar texture (pre prep veg etc) to that described.

I’ll be fascinated to see what the response is………over to you, this is definitely something I can’t do alone!

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*UPDATE* May 2013 ….. https://cranfieldsfoods.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/panyan-pickle-reconstructed/   Better late than never!

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56 thoughts on “Pan Yan Pickle recipe

  1. I loved this stuff when I was young. It had quite a tangy taste – far sharper than Branston or other dark pickles. It was quite caramel-ly and was lighter in colour than Branston.

    Not much to go on I know, but I hope you succeed.

    Grant

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  2. Pan Yan pickle – Christmas is not the same without it. Boxing day lunch was always cold meats, mashed potato and pickles! Oh how I loved the taste of Pan Yan. I’ve bought just about every pickle on the market in the hope of finding it, but to no avail. I’m sure one of the main spices was tumeric, which accounted for the slightly yellowy colour and slight ‘curry’ tang. Not much help but good luck all the same.

    I now live in Southern Ireland – for the last 12 years. When I first came to live here I was very excited to find Pan Yan on the shelves – alas is must have been the last few jars!

    Good luck!

    Lorna

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    1. Lorna is absolutely right – its was not really dark in colour. Machonachies were a London firm and sold out to Sunpat years ago. THEN it became a dark brown like every other pickle but it tasted about the same. Originally it was really very green, almost as if it had been made with green tomatoes but I don’t think that was it. I suspect (and I am a chef by profession) that the green was perhaps turmeric and ginger. Turmeric when boiled at high temperature, colours excessively and also adds a somewhat sharp taste to a dish. That was the secret of Panyan – that vinegary sharpness. Now, this might be pie in the sky but when Panyan was made by Premier at Bury St Edmunds, it was just up the road to the sugar beet factory. I’ve never tasted sugar beet (in Suffolk I believe they use the left over product after extraction to feed cattle) but it does look like a big swede. I know Rutabagar is Swede because the yanks always call it that, but do you think sugar beet, being so prolific in the area, could have been used. Has it ever been used in pickle before? We still see piles of it when harvested all around bury st edmunds so it might be.

      Panyan had very small veg (I might try a brief chop in my food processor and have a go) it had little bits of red in it (could have been pimento and pepper), obviously onions and apples and (even though they also made a named “Curry” pickle) I suspect from the taste there may even have been a SMALL amount of curry powder in with the spices in the original pickle. For acetic acid would that have been used as a balancer and what would I use for this if I were trying it out, or would white vinegar work alone? When you looked at the pickle it was not sticky looking like Branston. The sauce around it looked opaque (like a picallili) but it was still shiny, the sauce really binding it all very nicely. There was a different shade of green with the little bits of pepper which I assume was gherkin (very small) and perhaps there was no green pepper but just red. It was not sweet, more like sweet and sour I would say. I’m going to have a bash and I’ll send a jar to anyone who wants to try. I will post again when I’ve made some!

      Keep your fingers crossed. The whole family keep asking me to make it, so I guess I’ll have a go.

      Elaine

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  3. Anyone yearning for Pan Yan pickle should try Marks & Spencer’s own brand pickle. I bought some recently and found the taste very, very similar.

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  4. I have longed for Pan Yan for years and my mouth still waters when I think about it. I remember it as part of our relish supplies and especially meat sandwiches with Pan Yan used as a spread. It was very dark in colour and very tangy. The band we always had was Maconochies and I had assumed it was stopped being imported from the UK. Here in Newfoundland we do not get as many British foods as we did prior to and shortly after confederation with Canada in 1949. I would dearly love to taste it again!

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    1. Saturday tea at my Grandmother’s. She owned a shop so we had freshly carved ham off the bone, tongue, fine sliced buttered bread and both Branston and Pan Yan pickles
      Pan Yan was so much better than Branston. What a shame that it hasn’t been on the shelves for so very many years.
      There were two varieties – the standard variety and in the late 60’s (my preference) Pan Yan Curry pickle which was just exquisite. Not hot, but with a wonderful aroma and flavour.
      Pan Yan was always more difficult to find than Branston, and the curry pickle was rare compared to the standard one.
      Golden in colour like a dark apricot. The fragrance was delicate and indescribable.

      I’ll pick up some M&S own brand and try it out. Fingers crossed.

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      1. Hi Mike, I would be most interested to see what you think of the M&S brand, the sainsburys basic has just been suggested, see Ralphs post
        BW Victoria

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      2. you have it spot on ,but as a kid I remember it as being lumpy and crunchy,
        a cross between sweet and sour&chili,with a hint of curry,not a smooth
        paste you could put in a sandwich,but an ingredient for `cold cuts`It
        was almost honey colored ,I shall have to try to make some!

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  5. Hi Cranfield’s
    Re:PAN YAN PICKLE
    You may like to start by tasting sainsburys basics pickle (an unbelievable 25p per jar) to get the sauce texture/sweetness taste this is similar but lacks the undertone curried flavour that Pan Yan held. The chunk size was smaller than Branston approx 8mm cubes and it was sweet and caramelly. The curry flavour was mild i would guess turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, mustard, cinnamon, clove and possibly allspice and garlic. It wasn’t a curried pickle as such but had a backnote of curry flavour to it and was yellow/ tan in colour. Hope this helps..i may have to try and knock up a batch myself
    regards
    Ralph Cade

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    1. You definitely know your spices! If you were to have a go I would leave out the clove as it has a tendency to strengthen over time and destroy the flavour you decided on at the time it was bottled. I had to throw away a batch of my gardeners relish when I used clove in the curry mix, it was fine for a few days and then increasingly gained an after taste. The problem I will have (apart from getting the taste right) will be the size of dice as I don’t use preprepared veg but we will see…..
      Many thanks for your description
      Victoria

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  6. Have just chased up Premier Foods to find out why they haven’t yet brought back Pan Yan. It’s been a couple of years since the Chris Evans campaign when they sounded very interested.

    Meanwhile, I can’t wait to see the results of this experiment in re-creation. Started in January. How’s it going ?

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    1. Hi Eddie
      Sorry for the delay in response a cross between being out of action and consequently over busy. This is also the reason for the lack of progress on the pickle. Other comments posted indicate various brands that may fill the brief and indeed a recipe link to follow if you are so inclined!

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  7. I have just made the Chutney recipe from the Sunday Times Style 5th September and it is more or less the same as I remember Pan Yan. If anyone wants to try it go to “thesundaytimes.co.uk/style” click on “Style” cursor down to “Food and Drink” click on “Eat In” then cursor down to “Get in a Pickle by Lucas Hollweg”. I must admit that my vegetables did break up a bit and so did not look exactly like the picture. Also I substituted carrot for a small amount of the apple. The only thing I will do next time is to not put in so much ginger into the mixture bearing in mind that there is also ginger in the spice bag. Would highly recommend this one – have just have some with fresh home made crusty bread and mature cheddar – smashing.

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  8. I realise that memories fail,and tastebuds differ, but Like many people I yearn for the taste of Panyan pickle. I think I may have discovered what
    may be a simple alternative – Mix a jar of Heinz Ploughmans Pickle with a
    jar of Heinz Mild Mustard Pickle,and add a teaspoon of mild Madras Curry
    Powder. Tastes good straight away,but better after 2 weeks.
    If not how you remember Panyan,it’s good for me,and a pickle that bites back.

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  9. Just heard about PanYan, so sadly missed, on Radio 4 this morning. But in your recipe, you’ve missed out a key ingredient. I’m pretty sure Pan Yan contained tamarind – which is what gave it that tart-sweet, slightly Indian flavour.

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    1. Interesting that you identify that flavour as distinctive and indeed you don’t need to use much. According to the recipe ingredients taken from the side of the jar it isn’t included but if it constituted less than 2% of the finished product it wouldn’t have to be included.

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  10. My grandmother and mother both bought this and in turn myself. I emigrated to Canada and used to bring it over a few jars at a time and when anyone else visited they were told not to come without some.
    I truly miss it and was really disappointed to read that the secret recipe was lost in a fire. I cant understand why the makers wouldnt put the recipe on a data base even though they no longer made it. I much prefer it to Branston’s

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  11. I made my first batch of “Pan Yan” a few weeks ago. Just tried it and very very pleased with the results. In fact I am now making a bigger batch for friends and family at Christmas. Two things I discovered; you need to use White Wine Vinegar, not malt. Also, use White or Golden Sugar, not Brown. The only spices I used were Turmeric and a little curry powder. Make sure everything is chopped fine and I found no need to thicken with starch. Delicious!!!

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  12. After listening to a radio phone in today about what makes you think about Christmas but has nothing to do with Christmas immediately made me think of Pan Yan pickle. I always thought it superior and much tastier than Branston. It was a must with cold turkey, ham etc – when I had packed lunch for school and took a pork pie my Mum always used to put some Pan Yan in the tupperware too.

    Someone somewhere please bring it back. I don’t remember a curry version but it sounds yummy.

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  13. I thought I was the only one who longed for the taste of Pan Yan from my childhood. Sandwiches have never tasted the same since it disappeared from the shelves. I used to eat in on a sandwich on its own without any meat. Turkey sandwiches with stuffing and Pan Yan – HEAVEN!!!! I really long for that unique taste of Pan Yan. I hope that somewhere one day it can be produced again.

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  14. Look at all of us PanYan lovers! There is a whole load of us just longing for those jars to start rolling off the lines again. Someone somewhere would be very popular if they could re-invent it. I think we only had PanYan on special occasions as I remember Mum putting it in pride of place on the table and the family making very short work of it. (I also miss Kennedy’s sausages!)

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  15. No pickle gets near PanYan – can anything else make spam sandwiches taste
    so great? If someone has the time and inclination to start a PanYan club with the sole aim of producing the nearest to the original that is possible,we could have great tasting events and a rip-roaring AGM. What is the P-Y fans opinion of the perfect wine to accentuate the qualities of PanYan and a plate of cold meat with bubble and squeak? I suggest a fine Provence Rose…and you?

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  16. I also yern for the taste of PanYan,I just can,t eat Branston pickle there is no comparision,What I have resorted to is picklelilly and sometimes just some times i get a taste of PanYan,just like you get when you stop smoking and pass someone who has just litten a cigerette and you get that excellent aromour,Ihope you know what I mean.

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  17. As I remember `Pan Yan`back in the`50`s it was almost clear full of large
    lumps of veg.which were crunchy,it was `sweet&sour`With a hint of chilli
    and along with apple it had silverskin onions whole, and gerkins in lump ,it was not intended to be
    put in a sandwich but eaten with `cold cuts!Lost and sadly missed,It was
    also a `loose`pickle i.e.it was not glued together with some gum or other,
    obviously I remember it before the experts from Premier foods labs improved
    the `formula`.
    Barton`s Pickles took up after said fire and put there product into Waitrose,Also a loose pickle ,perhaps they can help they are in Leeds.
    Bartons is branston as it should be!
    Oh I am a Farm-worker who want`s some pickle not an Ad-man from town!

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    1. It was a similar article that gave me the list of ingredients listed on my entry last year, the article is misleading in so far as the main ingredient is swede not apple and it does not list the ingredients as the original article did. Unfortunately a list of ingredients on the jar does not give the method or the small spice touches below 2% by volume all it gives is the relative volumes of ingredients to each other. I tried a batch using the ingredients as listed and was disappointed with the result, I am sure many others have tried too. If you want to have a go yourself the ingredients are listed at the beginning of this thread.
      I obviously read all the comments before posting them and hopefully one day a break through will occur, in the meantime happy hunting. Best Wishes Victoria

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  18. I agree with Iain that Barton’s Pickle is as Branston used to be. I stopped buying Branston a couple of years ago after a jar with a vaguely medicated taste. Then I bought a jar a few weeks ago, only to find that the root vegetable chunks were very undercooked. Trouble is, I get the impression that Barton’s have withdrawn their pickle, certainly it is not mentioned on their website and I haven’t seen it in (e.g.) Waitrose for ages.

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  19. Ah yes…I too remember Pan Yan Pickle well and indeed fondly too. They also made Pan Yan sauce which was really delicious and like no other, in that in was somewhat “Sweet”, without that overwhelming sharp aftertaste of a strong vinegar ie Malt etc. For want of a better way of putting it, Pan Yan was more subtle and a real pleasure as a condiment, rather than being so overpowering..it accompanied and complimented whatever you were having it alongside with FAR better than anything which is available nowadays.

    As folk have recalled, Pan Yan pickle / sauce was a lighter shade than others such as Branston. I can remember that the sauce itself was slightly thinner and more freely flowing than other ones on the market, which had a thicker consistency.

    I so miss the Pan Yan range, and in particular would love to be able to buy the sauce again…and indeed the pickle too. So many things which were genuinely good are no longer available..a whole way of life seems to have disappeared…we’ve lost such a lot ,and that rather saddens me.

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  20. AAH! I live in Guyana now, and when in UK last year searched the shelves for Pan Yan. Now I know why it wasn’t there. PLEASE Find an answer to the recipe.

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  21. I’m a 62 yr old youngster from Glasgow. We used to put Pan Yan on our Sunday Fry Up and a bit of beetroot mmmm loved it, BRING IT BACK

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  22. Just found this and wanted to let you know that Heinz do a product that is similar to Pan Yan as it isn’t a sweet pickle like Branston which I hate btw. It is called Heinz Tangy Sandwich Pickle. It isn’t as good of course but it is close enough and well worth a try. Sainsbury’s and Asda stock it, but not Tesco’s.
    I would love it to be produced again as it was a real flavour of my childhood!!

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  23. Hi to all you Pay yan lovers.. I’ve just made a batch of marrow chutney which has a hint of the distinct pan yan flavour, I used a mix of my own pickling spices, being a bit heavy handed with the ground ginger & because I ran out of other things I used garam marasala & tikka mix. It’s not perfect but like a lot of others it is begining to match up to my memories so when I make the next batch I’ll use a bit more of the curry type spices as that’s what I remember most- no wonder I a “curry-holic” now! I think it’s yellowish colour must have come from tumeric as opposed to mustard powder, perhaps it was both & the mustard could have been used as thickener at the same time!

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  24. Amazing pickle just loosen the lid and you salivate uncontrolably. I have tried for years to find anything even near it for flavour. Whatever it takes I have to taste it again before I shake off this mortal coil. Regards Alan

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  25. I think what I like about both Pan Yan & Branston is the crunchiness of the vegetables, which you don’t get in a true chutney. It’s getting that balance between undercooked/overcooked veg together within the chutneyish background.

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  26. Glad I’m not alone in missing Pan Yan, a week doesn’t go by without thinking about it. The comment above mentions mango as an ingredient, funny enough I have been eating Sharwoods mango chutney and I think it’s the closest in flavour to Pan Yan. There must be a jar of it tucked away in someone cupboard somewhere, one hopes!

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  27. The Heinz Ploughman’s Pickle is the closest thing I’ve found – tangy yet sweet. Their Sandwich Spread is not similar at all. I could eat a jar of Panyan in one sitting at my grandparents’ place (and I did so frequently). I remember it well. It was NOT a fine dice – it had chunks that were a little more rounded than Branston Original but about the same size, much bigger than Branston Sandwich. A lighter colour and slightly softer chunk. Absolutely delicious, I wish you every success!

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  28. Making yet another batch of Pickle. I seem to have cracked it now, all the taste is there – not too sharp, not too sweet. I’m happy for a few more months!

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  29. I live in Canada and used to bring back 6 jars every year…visitors from the UK were not allowed over the front door step without showing a jar lol. I really do miss the sharp, tangy and sweet taste that my Grandmother introduced to me all those years ago. Im almost 60 now and hope we get to taste it again before it’s my turn. David W would love to try out your recipe 🙂

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  30. Please please please try to make it again.I had this as a kid and it was the best thing in the worlrd.When it became difficult to get my Mum bought Branston pickle and I tried it once and never again to this day.Please help us War babies.

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  31. Tony J in Somerset
    Has anyone got any further using the original ingredients as a guide?
    I have tried various recipes from the internet but none of them come anywhere near my memory of the original.

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    1. Although no one will be holding their breath, I am hoping to have time to get my head around this early in the New Year. I have to come up with seasonal chutneys for one of my clients and as the bulk ingredient in this is swede, that is at a seasonal possibility…………….2 birds with one stone?

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      1. Please do let us know if you’ve solved this conundrum. A guest at lunch today, aged 88, was asking where and how he could taste them again. We’d love to make him a batch.

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  32. I Remember going back a good few years now i was working as a tanker driver for British Sugar… based in Shropshire…..one particular day i was sent with a 25 ton load of bulk sugar to Rowntree Sunpat Hyde Cheshire, a place i had never been asked to go previously or since…i knew all of the food and chocolate factories but this was a new one to me… having connected up the pipework and blowing sugar into the silo i noticed deliveries coming in of fresh veg such as carrots swedes etc …..seemed a strange combination of ingredients at the time …. but upon enquiry i was told its the Pan Yan Pickle factory….needless to say i went home with a jar or two ……………one thing i can tell you is they used the finest quality white granulated beet sugar in the pickle……….

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