Monday, 12 December 2016

Vegetable Gardeners' Diary December 2015

Growing and Pickling Beetroot

Beetroot are one of the easiest of vegetables to grow in and around Coffs, and the only pests you are likely to encounter are slugs and snails. I’ve grown beetroot over winter and summer with great success.

There’s a school of thought that suggests you should only use well-rotted manure or compost given that beetroot is almost a root vegetable. It certainly pays to dig your patch over well so the soil is nice and friable, and if you are going to use an organic fertiliser, add it to the soil well before planting.

I plant small seedlings directly into position spacing them a few inches apart. Keep the water up to them until they are established.

As the plants begin to flourish, feel free to pick off the odd leaf and add it to your salad.

Beetroot is a vegetable that you can leave in the ground for quite some time during the harvesting season. You can start harvesting when the globes are about golf ball size. The smaller ones will taste better, but if you plan to store or pickle your beetroot, then I suggest you wait until they get a bit bigger.

I have not tried dry storage of beetroot. My grandmother used to do this back in Hobart, but the climate was a lot cooler. I suspect it’s too warm and humid in Coffs. My preferred method of storage is pickling. It’s easy peasy. Here is my favourite recipe.

You will need:
A large glass of chilled wine (for the pickle cook)
4 large beetroot
¾ cup of water
1 ½ cups of white vinegar
¾ cup of sugar
½ teaspoon of peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
Half a cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon of salt
Hot sterilised jars

  1. Take a sip or two of your wine, wash the beetroot thoroughly, and cook in water until tender
  2. Cool and remove skin, (this should simply peel off by hand)
  3. Cut the beetroot into slices or chunks
  4. Place all the other ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil
  5. Simmer for 5 minutes, and use this short break to top up your wine if need be
  6. Pack the beetroot into hot sterilised jars and top up with the vinegar mixture. Note, you can either strain the vinegar mixture or leave it unstrained for a slightly sharper taste
  7. Seal the jars and store them in the fridge
  8. Now put your feet up and finish your wine.

Pickled beetroot will last you several months and has a much stronger flavour than commercial beetroot.

Happy Gardening

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