Tonight I decided to preserve the two mammoth Beetroot that I picked from the garden a couple of days ago. I’d love to claim ownership of this recipe, but I wouldn’t take that away from a certain Delia “Lets be Avin you” Smith. That was a football reference for my non football following followers, google it! The steps are easy and I’ve attached some of my photos from each stage.
Quantities required are:-
450g of Beetroot
175ml of Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of Mixed Pepper Cloves
1/2 teaspoon of Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
2 x Shallots
This little lot cost me £6.90 but then I grew the Beetroot so probably around £8 if you had to buy them. I also chose an Organic Red Wine Vinegar, it only seemed fair!
You will also require a 1/2 liter glass jar to keep this in once completed. This must be sterilized before hand. I just wash it and put it in oven at no more than 130c to dry out. The rubber seal is washed by hand and placed in kitchen roll to dry.
Firstly you need to cut back the stalks and roots to no more than an inch on the Beetroot. All you need to do then is wash them but leave the skin on. Wrap these in a parcel of foil and put on at 190c for a minimum of 3 hours. Mine took just under this but I tested how well they were cooked by using a skewer tip to see if it glided through softly. They should look similar to my effort below:-
It was at this point I peeled the two shallots as this allowed for the Beetroot to cool down and chopped them finely. Once these were chopped, I started to prepare the vinegar.
The vinegar sauce or dressing whatever you call it is simple to make. Take the 175ml of Red Wine Vinegar and add the 1/2 teaspoon of Pepper Corns and Sea Salt to it. Being to the point of simmering and then you can take it off the hob. This gives you a lovely mixture of colors and a very strong smell. I ended up requiring 250ml of the Red Wine Vinegar so be prepared to pro rata extra Pepper and Salt to suit this. It was at this point I peeled the Beetroot that had cooled down and started chopping them finely.
Now you need to take the sterilized jar and make sure it is still warm. If you don’t you risk a cracked jar. You need to layer the Beetroot and Shallots so they form nice compact layers. Once you have done this to just below the top of the jar, you are ready to add the Vinegar.
I poured the Vinegar from the Pan back into the glass jug as it is easier to fill the Jar this way. In order to ensure the risk of cracking is removed, once the vinegar had reached simmering point, I sat the jar in cold water. This allowed it to be cooler. I then poured slowly the Vinegar with Pepper Corns shimmering into the jar, ensuring the top layer is covered.
Once this was completed, I shut the jar tight and clanked the lid down. According to Delia this will be edible in 2 days. It can last up to 2 years, I think I will be nibbling on this sooner. Please note the Shallots are added raw and not cooked. Only time will tell how good these taste, but I’m going to give the ease of this recipe an 8/10. The only down side is the 3 hours waiting for the Beetroot.
This weekend has been a very special one. It will be one that stays in my mind for an extremely long time and as I find myself sat back at home following it, I am smiling on the inside.
Whilst I was away in Cornwall a couple of weeks ago, I asked my partner to marry me. It was one of those moments that is extremely nerving and if any guy tells you otherwise they are either lying or have never been in that situation.
We spent this weekend back in my home town after finally revealing to the Facebook world that we are Engaged. We enjoy tradition and wanted to at least tell all of our family in person or on the telephone before splashing the news over Social Media. The weekend comprised of a lovely evening and BBQ at my sister and her partners with my family, before spending this afternoon catching up with my old school and college friends. If there is one thing I’ve learnt from this weekends antics, it’s that I’m not coming out of retirement and taking up playing football again! Oh and another thing, Mohitos are extremely addictive (thanks Luke!)
On Sunday we went to Stratford Butterfly Farm which is a truly magical and amazing place. It was fairly overcast and chilly before we went inside, however by the time we’d left it had certainly warmed up. There were a huge variety of Butterflies that had lost all interest in landing on my grey T-shirt, however there were many situations where they intentionally moved just as I was taking their photo. I am almost certain they knew what they were doing. This place also homes snakes, scorpions, spiders and quails. The latter were out and about roaming with the butterflies, the others fortunately not. I can confirm that at one point the place felt like a Disney Film with colorful Butterflies filling the skies and fluttering around our faces.
If this wasn’t enough, I’ve been clinging onto the number 33 with both hands clenched firmly around them. It was also a Birthday celebration for me and a rare year where my birthday didn’t fall on the Summer Bank Holiday. Tomorrow (or Tuesday, depending when you read this) I turn 34 and have been so grateful for all the surprises and gifts I’ve received so far. All I can say is that I am truly blessed and am very very fortunate to have the life I do. The sad thing is I’m back at work tomorrow where I’m pretty certain I will be buying cakes for my work colleagues. This is one tradition that I have no idea how and why it exists!? If anybody knows then please feel free to enlighten me.
Finally I harvested some vegetables from our garden tonight. It was a pleasant reward for all of the hard work and effort put into watering and feeding our raised beds. I pulled up two beetroots the size of tennis balls and foraged around and found some potatoes and onions. I will be pickling these Beetroots tomorrow night and will let you all know how they turn out. I am half tempted to buy a cutter that gives them that crinkled crisp effect. Fingers crossed I can actually do it right. This follows on nicely from my blog about Self Sufficiency earlier this month. I think there may be a weeks worth of Beetroot in our household, wow!
Yes for those wondering, it’s me in the photo with my hands on my head. That kinda gives away my footballing decision. 😉
One of my favourite things is the garden, it’s something that brings me and my girlfriend closer and also it gives us the excitement of creating our own little haven. Last year was our first attempt of growing some fruit and vegetables and in the end we were presented with a couple of beetroot, green tomatoes, deformed carrots, slug ridden lettuce and a lifetime supply of beans. 2012 wasn’t the best year for us gardeners and if it hadn’t been for the colourful Pansies and Roses aplenty it would probably have resembled amass of green shoots that would have been best suited in an allotment.
Roll on this year and 12 months later there is certainly something different going on outside in our garden. We have not let anything put us off our debut year and have gone for it again. The three-week spell of consistent sunshine has helped and where we decided upon giving the carrots a miss this time around, we have certainly been rewarded with some other successes. Now I know it’s tempting fate but already the beetroot are twice the size of last years efforts and the Tomatoes look as if they may just be a bit embarrassed this year with a red tint already evident. It’s at this point I would like to thank the bees for pollonating our gardens plants, what shortage?!
Now there is all this talk in the papers about self-sufficiency. It’s where people like ourselves who have relatively small areas to grow a few token gestures will never quite get there. I however, think this is well and truly over hyped and taken out of context.
Tonight I decided to explore the growbags and raised beds to see what was ready for harvesting, I really do love that word. It paints pictures of being sat in a tractor travelling across the acres of land pulling up the years crops. My girlfriend always smiles when I use that terminology, it’s my way of being all proud and somewhat smug when there is something that can be eaten grown from scratch. I feel like Richard Briers from the Good Life, I love feeling like Richard Briers. For all the days of nurturing the seedlings to the endless evenings of watering them and seeing them grow (well some of them) and suffering the heartache of pests attacking them, it does make you slightly envious of our Supermarkets who sell big bunches for a few pennies.
So my reward tonight…..? Well I managed to find 4 potatoes in the grow bag, a couple of beans were plucked off the bean stalks and the largest beetroot I have ever seen* pulled up from the raised bed. I tell you what, self-sufficiency is well and truly overrated and overstated. Give me the uncertainty anyday of what I will find edible in my garden, that’s what keeps it interesting for me.
* Away from the Supermarkets, I can only compare this to 2012!