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.
The weather is getting colder, sooner or later all sorts of viruses will come a calling. We do not need to welcome them with open arms and ,therefore, we need to prepare, after all prevention is better than a cure.
A bit of spice in our food can only be a good thing to build or immune system. A recipe of spiced onion, which is very easy to make and can be made a few days before and use as you want, is just the perfect cupboard food.
Spiced onion can be made to taste rather sweet or sour instead of sweet and sour. I, myself, prefer it to be more on the sour side.
Anyway here are the ingredients:
1/2 caster sugar (or less if preferred, I would used just 1 heaped tablespoon)
1 cup white one vinegar (for a stronger taste, use red wine vinegar)
1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed finely
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed (cumin powder can also be used)
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 heaped tsp salt
2 large red onions, peeled and sliced into rounds
Method of preparation:
Using a large pan, put the sugar, vinegar, spices and salt to boil. Stir thoroughly to mix. Leave to simmer for at least 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the onion slices on a clean glass pyrex dish or any heat resistant non-metallic covered container. Pour in the hot spicy vinegar marinade onto the onions. Give a stir to ensure all the pieces are drenched with the marinade.
Cover and store in the fridge or pantry until needed.
is a Bengali spicy tomato relish. What makes this relish special from other tomato relish is the addition of panch puran.
What is panch puran, you may ask? Well it is a Bengali special spice mixture made from 5 main ingredients: cumin, fennel, nigella, mustard and fenugreek seeds.
6 tbsp mustard oil
4 large onion chopped finely
6 tbsp panch puran
2 kg ripe tomatoes
2 inches ginger, chopped finely
1 head garlic, minced
fresh red chillies, according to taste
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp Demerara sugar or honey
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 cup water
salt and pepper
Method of preparation:
Using a large heavy bottom pan, like a le creuset, fry the onions in the mustard oil. Cook until the onions have turned translucent.
Stir in the panch puran and cook for a few minutes until the seeds start to pop.
Add the ginger, garlic and chillies. Stir fry until the fragrance is released.
Mix in the sugar or honey, vinegar, lemon juice and tomato puree, plus the cup of water. Cook until it has turned into a smooth paste.
Add the chopped tomatoes and let it simmer until the liquid has virtually dried up.
Remove from heat, set it aside to let it cool.
When cool to the touch, transfer to sterilised jars to preserve.
This tomato chutney is lovely with meat, cheese or pieces of bread.
I had macapuno with a bit of halaya ube which both came from a jar earlier today. It was delicious too. See above photos.
Filipinos have a love affair with macapuno, as a race, we just can’t get enough of it.
We add these grated thin strips of macapuno into puddings. We flavour ice-cream with macapuno as well as top up chiffon cake with it for a sumptuous indulgent dessert.
The Philippine Coconut Authority has developed a variety of coconut that would yield Macapuno, which is as fleshy as the ordinary coconut but softer for easier grating and turns gelatinous when cooked.
Macapuno is also called a rather scary name of mutant coconut and sometimes it is called coconut sport as well.
Anyway, if you happen to find a macapuno coconut and would like to try to cook it, then below is an easy to follow recipe.
Macapuno Preserve Recipe
2 cups Macapuno or mutant coconut or coconut sport
2 cups sugar
2 cup water
Method of Preparation:
Scrape and grate the macapuno meat into long thin strips. Set aside.
Make up the syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water under a low heat. Don’t let the sugar syrup caramelise.
As soon as the sugar had dissolved into a clear syrup, add the macapuno strips a handful at a time to ensure that the sugar syrup is in a constant boil.
Let it cook until the strips have turned rather transparent and going to the bottom of the pan under the bubbling syrup. Again, do not let it caramelise.
Set aside to cool slightly then transfer into distilled jar and store until needed.
The macapuno will be very sweet, so you will probably eat a couple of tablespoons at a time. Mind you, you will keep eating it (maybe not in one sitting) until the jar is empty. It is that good. It can be eaten as an accompaniment to fruits, ice-cream and cakes. It can also make a delicious sandwich.