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 noticed the abundance of rosehip from my garden and I got to thinking if I could do something with them. My husband suggested a rosehip syrup that he remembers fondly from his childhood. The syrup was sweet-tasting and bursting with goodness of Vitamin C, just the drink, hot or cold, during the autumn season.
Anyway here is a recipe from Hugh Feanley-Whittingstall
Rosehip syrup is dripping with vitamin C and has long had a reputation for keeping colds at bay all winter. Far from being austere, though, it has a surprisingly tropical tang, with notes of lychee and mango. Diluted with about five parts cold water, it makes a delicious cordial drink, which kids will love, and a fantastic autumn cocktail for grown-ups. It’s also an indulgent alternative to maple syrup on ice cream, waffles and pancakes.
You will also need a jelly bag (or a clean cotton cloth and a big sieve)
Put two litres of water in a large pan and bring to the boil. Throw in the chopped rosehips, bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for half an hour, stirring from time to time.
Strain the mixture through a jelly bag. (Alternatively, line a colander with a couple of layers of muslin and place over a large bowl. Tip in the rosehip mixture, and leave suspended over the bowl.)
Set the strained juice aside and transfer the rosehip pulp back to the saucepan, along with another litre of boiling water. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat, infuse for another half an hour and strain as before. Discard the pulp and combine the two lots of strained juice in a clean pan. Bring to the boil, and boil until the volume has decreased by half. Remove from the heat.
Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Return to the stove, bring to the boil and boil hard for five minutes. Pour into warmed, sterilised jars or bottles and seal.
I remember when we were still children, my mother would serve us rice with some viand of vegetables and fish and this recipe of salty tomatoes. I would watch her not bothering with a knife to slice the juicy ripe tomatoes. With dexterity she you would pull a tomato apart with just one hand and it was the loveliest memory of delicious childhood.
I have to say that when I first came to the UK, the tomatoes did not taste like the Philippine tomatoes. They looked the same but the UK ones are bland.
It was some few years later that Sainsburys started selling flavoursome tomatoes. It tasted slightly like the good tomatoes of the Philippines. But why has a tomato has to be flavoursome to taste like the real thing?