Monday, 2 July 2018

Preserving - Starting with Beetroot

Fresh chunky full leaved beetroot is becoming available at my veg shop and so to start the pickling pot off this year I have bought two big bunches of fresh beetroot for cooking and putting under vinegar.  Sometimes I do chunks/wedges, most often or not sliced and also baby beets whole. This is the first batch and therefore it is slices.  The way my Nan and my Mum used to do them.  There will be more to prepare.  This slips in nicely when cooking other things as I can leave it to bubble away whilst I get on with other bits and bobs and only have to check it every so often. It also makes me feel as if I am making the best of the time available to me and managing to squirrel away much needed reserves for the winter months.  I know pickled beetroot is not to everyone's taste but it is something we use here although we use our fair share of fresh when it is available as well.

OH likes it in cheese sandwiches; I like it with a ploughmans or indeed with pate, crusty bread and chutney. In the winter months together with pickled red cabbage it really perks a winter salad up. I also love small beetroot roasted in the oven with other seasonal veggies.  Sets the roast off a treat.  To tell the truth I love roasted veggies of any kind as to me it releases the proper flavour of those newly harvested veggies.  It also saves on the pots and pans by cooking the veggies together where you can.

I am aiming to squirrel what I can away whilst I am off work both in the freezers, the bottling store and jam store and some wine along the way and maybe some beer too - whatever I can and wherever I can and to take advantage of the reductions at the Greengrocers.  I am specifically thinking basics at the moment like, pasta/spaghetti sauce, salsa, apples, plums, pears, mixed fruit salad, red fruit salad, apricots, strawberries, raspberries, mixed fruit, peaches etc.  There are also sauces, and syrups and cordials.  The posh syrups that you can buy to add to your coffee i.e. vanilla, hazelnut can be made at home and they can be used on cakes and puddings etc. not just for hot drinks.

As I said the other day the heat seems to have either demolished crops or indeed brought them on quicker than usual.  The season feels much further on than it is as a result.  We have noticed that the blackberries in the wild are fruiting up but they need the rain to swell and grow.  I don't like what I am seeing and so a knee jerk reaction from me is to take precautions and make sure that the pantry is well stocked. with things that I can get hold of now and make sure we will eat.  The sun is all well and lovely but we need the rain to live, like we need the bees to pollinate our food.  We should be looking after the earth we live on not destroying it.

When it comes to preserving from my perspective it is always worth it.  We were brought up on bread and jam - filled a hole, was a regular for a Sunday afternoon tea either bread and jam, or toast and jam followed by jelly and fruit, pastries i.e. sausage rolls, jam tarts, Victoria sponge.  If the jam was made with fresh fruit at home all the better.  A lot of you at the thought of this will be saying but it makes too much jam  - I will never use it.  Yes you will and in ways that will surprise you.  My personal point of view is that if you have a store of something you are investing in a future/current food source for your family however I believe passionately that it also encourages you to experiment and come up with your own little takes on things and recipes.  I think it makes you a more creative cook. 

Jams and jellies can be used on bread and butter, in pastries, in cakes, as the basis for a sauce, to enhance gravies (thinking Redcurrant jelly here). I have made carrot jam before and although it was not one that I would have on bread it is a sweet preserve and it is particularly tasty as part of a base for a trifle. They also add more flavour to your food.

Because we have the supermarkets and Farmers shops now I think people are losing sight of a couple of basics when it comes to providing food for your own and the responsibility for the same. That responsibility really lays with you. It is so easy to pop to the shop.  Years ago that was not possible as the shops/supermarkets were not there apart from the Greengrocers, the Butchers, the Fishmongers and the Bakers and the Markets. Many people who lived in villages could not afford to go to "Town" above once a month and it was common in the villages for people to offer a lift to get stocked up to others or to actually bring bits back for them.  My grandparents used to go to the market once a week.  They were lucky they had a car but many people did not.  Nan used to buy all the bare ingredients and then make what she needed herself as well as take bits back for neighbours.  My grandparents were able to harvest a lot of fruit and veg because they had such a large garden.  It was hard work but it kept the family, extended family and others going during difficult times.

As I have said before I am feeling particularly blessed at the moment. I know how quickly circumstances can change though and at the end of the day it is not what happens that is important it is how you deal with it. 

Catch you soon.




  1. Love your post! My British grandparents had an allotment (they called it the Ponderosa) and my grandma made frutipies, jams, chutney's etc, and my granddad would organize the allotment competitions. Wonderful to eat so fresh as you do. I hope one day to have an allotment or garden too to grow our own. Thank you for sharing. Greetings from Holland.

  2. Hi Nomennomen, welcome. I am afraid I tend to get a little bit passionate with preserving. Its not to everyone's taste but it is part and parcel of who I am. Even if you do not have much space you can always squeeze little things in like growing your own cress or lettuce leaves in small trays and if you have room for some planters put veggies in those instead of flowers and you will have a mini productive garden. Every little helps. You are however more than welcome, get a cup of tea or coffee and make yourself comfortable there is lots of my burble going back years. Take care. Pattypanxxx


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