Friday, 7 December 2018

Growing and pickling ...

I like to grow vegetables.

Truth be told, I'm not very good at it, but I like to have a go. Some soft fruit, some tomatoes and zucchinis, a chilli bush or two, some Asian greens over winter when fresh green things can be hard to find, some designer potatoes, and perhaps some beans.

All fairly simple things and easy to grow.

This year, despite a successful crop of Asian greens over winter some things are struggling this year with the dry spring and the early arrival of the hot weather,  strangely enough the tomatoes in particular, and the broad beans only managed about four pods between them.

A complete contrast to last year where we had a glut of tomatoes, so many by the end of the season I ended up making a vast quantity of tomato chutney (we're still eating it), and so many chillies we're only just getting to the end of last year's dried chillies.

However, it's not all doom and gloom. The designer potatoes are growing well, so hopefully we'll have some nice waxy ones for making Indian and Bengali style lentil and potato curries, and suddenly I realised I had a ridiculous quantity of beetroot.

The beetroot seedlings had been struggling, and I was kind of assuming that it was going to be like my attempt at turnips - quite a bit of leaf and not a lot of root.

I hadn't meant to grow beetroot, after all it's cheap enough to buy in season, but back at the end of August, I had to go to the mega Bunnings in Albury to get something in connection with our renovations.

I forget what I had to get exactly, but what I do remember is that they also had some nice looking cabbage and beetroot seedlings and well, I can never resist a good looking seedling.

The cabbages are still growing, and even look as if they might heart up real soon now, but the beetroot - well it just sat there and did nothing for a few months.

Another failure I thought, and then suddenly it took off and I had around three kilos of beetroot. More than we could eat.

So the obvious answer was to pickle them. Fortunately we'd saved some big pickled vegetable jars - I have a mild addiction to sauerkraut and gherkins - the idea being that we might bottle some fruit later on in the summer.

So after sterilising them in the dishwasher, I harvested the beetroot, topped and tailed them, boiled them and then peeled, sliced and packed them in jars before adding the pickling liquid - a fairly standard recipe off the internet, sugar, coriander seed, fennel, bayleaves and parsley tops -  but with muscavado sugar to give it a richer flavour, and a two to one mixture of white and apple vinegar rather than just straight white vinegar.

A couple of hour work and we had three big jars of pickled beetroot to use over the coming year. We havn't tasted it yet, but I had a little of the boiled beetroot left over - not enough to bottle, so I left it sitting in a little of the pickling liquid while I cleaned up.

Certainly it made a nice addition to our lunch of zucchini and bean balls, so I think we'll most definitely enjoy the rest ...