In our extended family no cold meat or cheese platter is complete without a big dollop of what we lovingly call ‘Bean Pickle’. At a recent family gathering I turned to see my three-year-old daughter tucking into a sandwich with this pickle as the only filling, such is the constant presence of this almost fluoro chutney in our home!

Now I don’t want to confuse anyone with the name: this is what is usually known as ‘chutney’ and after some quick internet research apparently it also goes under the title of ‘Spiced Pickled Runner Beans’! I would definitely get laughed out of the small Devonshire village I grew up in if I called it that.

So we will keep it simple and stick to my grandma’s original name and copy the recipe that was handed down to my mum from her recipe scrapbook. It’s pretty quick to make and with Christmas around the corner this would make a lovely gift or addition to the leftovers after the big day!

pickle ingredients


900g runner beans (*these can be frozen-see tips)

2 large apples

4 large onions

675 brown sugar

900ml malt vinegar

1 tbsp cornflour

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp mustard


1. Trim around the edges of the runner beans, and slice.

2. Put the beans into boiling water, and cook for 5-10 minutes, until tender.

3. Whilst the beans are cooking, peel and chop the apples and onions. I chopped them in a food processor which was much quicker and the pieces ended up smaller and more even, which in our family is universally agreed to be better!


4. Put the onions and apples in a large saucepan and cover with 700ml vinegar (leaving 140 ml for thickening). Bring to the boil, and cook until the apples and onions are nearly tender.

5. Drain the beans, add them with the sugar to the pan of apples and onions.

6. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time to dissolve the sugar, then leave to boil for 15-20 minutes.

7. Mix the cornflour, turmeric and mustard with the vinegar to form a paste. Pour this mixture into the boiling pickle, and continue to gently boil for another 15 minutes.

8. When it has thickened, pour while still warm, into clean sterile jars and seal immediately.





*This pickle is fine made with frozen runner beans and much quicker, just cook the beans according to the instructions on the pack.

Save your old jam jars for the most authentic homemade look. I washed mine on the hottest dishwasher setting to sterilise but you can also sterilise them in the oven.

This pickle should keep well for at least a year, but ours never lasts that long.

Photography: Emma Scott-Child
Styling: Celia Richardson and Emma Scott-Child