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.
I will not be telling porkies here but making sushi is somewhat difficult! I am not only talking about the process of rolling these little babies but actually more on the ingredients and the preparation.
The rice! It has to be cooked to perfection and the fish and vegetables should be at their freshest.
Before you say no to sushi making, please stop! 🙂 We should all be reminded that Rome was not built in a day, as the saying goes. We have to persevere; make an effort and acquire new skill for a potentially delicious reap.
If you are rather partial to Chinese food, you are probably familiar with bamboo shoots.
And if you have been to the Philippines, it is possible that you have come across bamboo shoots in menus. Probably they would have been called labong in the Tagalog regions or rabong in the Ilocos region. They are also often called ubod.
Outside of Asia, bamboo shoots would most probably come in cans/tins or jars.
Bamboo shoots are usually harvested during the rainy season when they shoots grow profusely. As per above photo, the shoots are like cones covered in papery, a la papyrus, brownish and greenish leaves. The outer shell of leaves are then trimmed off leaving a yellowish tuber.
They can be cooked in variety of ways and can then be also made into a delicious if rather spicy and piquant salad.
Tomatoes, Photo by PH Morton for Globalgranary.org
Skin A Tomato
There are some recipes that require skinless tomatoes. Below is a process of how to remove the skin off tomatoes.
By the way, did you know that a cooked tomato is better than a raw tomato? Apparently tomatoes are a good source of lycopene which is an antioxidant. The lycopene in tomatoes increases as they are heated/cooked.
How to Skin a Tomato:
Put the tomatoes in a large heatproof bowl or basin.
Pour in boiling water over the tomatoes. They should be completely covered with water.
Leave to soak for 3-4 minutes.
Pour out the hot water. Now pour in cold water and leave for 30 seconds to a minute.
Using a sharp knife, break the skin and then start peeling using your hands.
Siling Labuyo and Siling Mahaba, photo by PH Morton
Chilies – Hot & Spicy
There are many varieties of chilies in Asia, where spicy food are favoured. In the Philippines, there are a lot of different kinds of this spice but the two main ones are the siling labuyo which is the small red chilies on the above photo. They are bird’s eyes chilies, which are really hot. The above green one is the other popular one. They are used in sinigang and paksiw (both delicious recipes). They are also rather hot.
To lessen the hotness, the white membrane and seeds that run through the chilies should be removed.
As a rule of thumb the smaller the chili the spicier it is.