Our good friend and close neighbour Mick regularly supplies us with fresh vegetables grown on his allotment located across the road from us.
Mick has had his allotment for over fifty years, planting vegetables and even fruit trees.
One of my favourite vegetables he grows for harvesting each autumn time is beetroot. Mick grows a popular type called ‘Boltardty AGM’. Boltardy seeds can be sown at various times during the growing year and in most types of soil. It does not have excessive ‘bolting, a gardening term, which means premature sprouting of stalks flowering stem(s). Excessive bolting can divert resources & nutriment from the beetroot and reduce its quality.
All Photos By PH Morton
After harvesting, Mick then produces jars of delicious slightly sweet pickled beetroot for his family and us. We save a jar for Christmas time. Beetroot is perfect to accompany Christmas meals. This year, Mick invited me to harvest some of his beetroot. He then showed us how to make his ‘signature’ pickled beetroot. I took various photos from harvesting to our jars filled with delicious picked beetroot. Under Mick’s tutelage and help, Jean & I enjoyed producing our own jars of this delicious vegetable. Making pickled beetroot is quite simple & straightforward. 🙂
If using homegrown beetroots from garden or allotment etc., a good time to harvest is from 50 to 70 days after planting. Avoid letting the beetroot get too big. A hand or tennis ball size is ideal. Do not let the stalks/stems bolt or grow above 6 inches (15cms). Dig around the beetroot and pick up avoiding breaking the stalk/greens from the beetroot.
Thoroughly clean & wash the dirt off and trim the stalks/stems short. Again do not pull out the stems, as water can get into the beetroot and damage it when boiling prior to pickling.
Harvested fresh beetroot can be stored in a refrigerator for about seven days.
Depending how many beetroots you are pickling, you will require:-
Pickling /preserve jars with airtight lids. The normal size is around 500ml, or as large as you want. Most hardware stores will supply.
Pickling vinegar, which comes in 1.4 litre size. Most larger supermarkets etc supply.
Brown or white sugar granules to sweeten the vinegar taste to your choice.
Place the beetroots in a suitably sized saucepan(s) and cover with water.
Boil for two hours.
Carefully strain off the water and either allow air cooling or running cold water over the beetroots then dry.
Completely remove remaining stalks/roots etc.
The boiled soft skin of the beetroot does not need to be peeled with a knife as can be easily removed by hand.
Cut or slice the beetroot to whatever size you prefer.
Pour in small amount sugar, then add a small measure of the pickling vinegar, enough to cover the first layer of the slices of beetroot into the bottom of the jar. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar (to taste) then add another layer, pour pickling vinegar, then another layer, sugar, pickling vinegar until it reaches the top of the jar.
Close the jar, gently shake it then turn it upside down and leave for about 30 minutes. This will allow the vinegar and sugar to seep through the beetroot. Top up with the pickling vinegar if needed to completely cover the sliced beetroot in the jar.
If you want you can label the jar with day & month of pickling.
Home made pickled beetroot can be kept for 6 weeks to 3 months, refrigerated.
In practice, it can be longer.
But if you store them beyond 3 months and you’re worried, check for signs of spoilage (rising bubbles, cloudy liquid, unnatural colour) and don’t eat or taste.
Parakeet in Childshill, London, photo by PH Morton
Rise of Parakeets
More and more wild parakeets are seen freely flying and nesting all around London. I first saw parakeets on top of a tree at Hyde Park four years ago. I thought they were not really a natural bird for cold UK.
As much as they are so lovely to look at, there are some negative implications to our local birds.
Through whayt fierce incarnations, furled
In fire and darkness, did I go,
‘Ere I was worthy in the world
To see a dandelion grow?
– G k Chesterton
Dandelion Photo by Jean Morton
Dandelion Flower Photo by Jean Morton
Yellow Dandelion Photo by PH Morton
Dandelion “Clock” By PH Morton
Seeding Dandelion By PH Morton
Dandelions are perennial plants, which are treated more like pernicious weeds in British gardens. Dandelions grow wildly in lawns and pavement cracks. They can be hard to uproot as they anchor themselves into the ground with unbelievable tenacity.
Dandelion got its name from the French’s dent-de-lion which literally means ‘lion’s teeth. The lion’s teeth, of course, refers to the shape of dandelion’s serrated leaves (see topmost photo).
Did you know?
The young leaves of dandelions are edible. They can be eaten as salad sprinkled with some crunchy lardons and croutons. It is advised to choose the really young leaves before the dandelion flowers start to appear; the more mature leaves tend to be slightly bitter.
In my opinion, Pili nut is the king or queen of all nuts. Its taste is something that you will appreciate. It is delicious, it is actually indescribable. It is buttery and floury with its clean nuttiness, if that make sense! 🙂 Once you have tasted it, it is almost impossible not to be hooked.
We were in Bicol when I had my first taste of pili nuts courtesy of my extraordinarily generous, angelic sister, Marilou. She said it was delicious and it was.
We bought jars of the pili nuts and loads of pili tarts. I am afraid I did not really like the pili tarts. I thought there were not enough pili nuts over a rather tough and chewy dough which doesn’t really taste much as it was rather bland.
Anyway, when I unpacked our luggage from the Philippines, I found a jar of the pili nut. I started eating it while watching back-to-back episodes of The Good Wife. Well I finished the jar before the second episode of this favourite show.
The caramelised pili nut was so good; you won’t stop at just a small handful.
It might be hard to get Pili nuts from just any shop because it is not widespreadly farmed just yet. Only the Philippines do it commercially.
Lance Catedral from Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines – pili nut
I spent my childhood in Marag, the eden then of the Philippines.
Birabid, photo by JMorton
Birabid, photo by JMorton
My young Manilanian palate was greatly challenged by exotic fare found in Marag. One I remember most were the birabids. Birabids are fresh water shellfish which we used to gather from our rice field just after the palay had been planted. They are tiny, the size of petit pois. They were easy to spot as they produce bubbles on the surface of the watery rice paddy.
They are washed and salted and left to ferment for at least a couple of days. They were eaten with boiled rice. I must admit the taste takes getting used to. I would say it was pretty disgusting at first because of its fishy and very salty taste, but you develop an appetite for it.
My mother does not like them so she did not use to make them but my Auntie Caring did and used to send a bowl of it for my father, who liked it. The birabids are eaten whole with their soft crunchy shells.
One for the bucket list: To try birabid again to see if it tastes just like I remember it.