Beetroot Relish

I have two beetroot relish recipes that I like - One is spiced with cumin and ginger and not terribly sweet and the other has the wonderful flavour of balsamic vinegar.  They both store well if jarred warm into warm, sterilised jars and lidded with new lids, ensuring that when cool, the button on the lid has gone down. Beetroot relish is wonderful on sandwiches, with a spiced leaf and some feta or with turkey, aged cheddar, or a simple hamburger.  It also makes a lovely gift.

Recipe 1 I found this on the Trotski and Ash blog.  I like the flavour the brown sugar adds and that it is not too sweet.  They have a preserves tag with a few other recipes as well.

Ingredients 4 medium beetroots, peeled and grated finely ginger, thumb sized knob peeled and grated finely 1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle 180 ml red wine vinegar 2 tbsp brown sugar a little salt

Method 1. In a large heavy based pot, over a medium heat, combine ingredients and stir. 2. Turn the heat down and simmer for an hour and a half or until the relish is sweet, shiny and soft. Make sure to stir occasionally and add a little water if the relish becomes too dry. 3. When ready, put into hot, sterilised jars. Once opened keep in the refrigerator.

Recipe 2 This recipe was given to me by a friend.  The balsamic vinegar adds a lovely flavour. This is a sweeter relish.

Ingredients 1kg Beetroot, cooked 1 large Red Onion 1tbsp Olive Oil 100g Golden Castor Sugar 50g Soft Dark Brown Sugar 50ml Red Wine Vinegar 100ml Balsamic Vinegar

Method 1. Remove tops. Clean and scrub each beetroot. Wrap each in foil, place in a roasting tin and  roast in a 180oC oven until tender (for about 40-50 minutes) 2. Peel the beetroot then coarsely grate. Grate the onion as well, keeping it separated from the beetroot. 3. Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently sweat the onion for a couple of minutes before adding all of the remaining ingredients 4. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar 5. Turn the heat down and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 6. The pickle should be very thick, resembling pickled red cabbage 7. Spoon into warm, sterilised jars and seal 8. Should keep well for several months in a dark cupboard.  Once opened, store in the fridge


It's peach harvest time!

It is peach harvest time here.  We are on the third peach tree and this one is loaded with juicy, yellow peaches.  The tree, 'Red haven' is three years old and it is the first harvest we have had from it.

Last year, in my attempt to control fungal diseases during the wet spring, I sprayed biodynamic 501 during the fruit set period.  All of the stone fruit trees lost their fruit as the tree's pores tightened and the fruit was literally squeezed off. Needless to say, I was much more careful this year and we are being rewarded with trees laden with fruit.

We have apple and pear trees planted, so we hope that even in winter, we will have biodynamic fruit. But opening a bottle of preserved peaches to have over muesli or yogurt or ice cream sounds like such a treat, that we decided to preserve some of the harvest.

In most of the information we found about jarring peaches, they recommend blanching the peaches to remove the skins.  We found that on the perfectly ripe peaches, it was very easy to peel the skin using a sharp vegetable peeler to start with and then just grabbing the skin and pulling it off with our fingers.  These peaches are also "clingstone" peaches.  The pips do not easily come away from the flesh. So we used an apple corer to remove the pips.  We then gently simmered the skins and pips to make a peach juice which we used as the syrup for some of the jars.  We also used a honey syrup and then a sugar and vanilla syrup (recipes below).

Our tools - Sharp vegetable peelers, an apple corer and a bowl full of water with lemon juice

Peaches in Vanilla Syrup is a recipe from Liana Krissoff's book "Canning for a New Generation - Bold, Fresh Flavours for the Modern Pantry".  This book is available locally at Antipodes Gallery and Bookstore in Sorrento.

For the peach juice, we took the peelings and the flesh left around the pips, put it into 8 cups of water and gently simmered for about an hour.  Then we strained the flesh through a cheese cloth and used the warm juice for a sugar free syrup.

The honey syrup was 8 cups water with 1/4 cup of honey.

The vanilla syrup was recommended at 4 cups of sugar to 8 cups water.  But we used half that and I still wonder if the peaches need that much sugar.  We only did a few jars though, just to make Ms Krissoff's recipe Toffee Encrusted Vanilla Poached Peaches.  Just the thought of that delight had my daughter putting her apron on to help!

Instead of using "Fruit Fresh" or ascorbic acid to preserve the colour of the peaches while we were working, we just soaked them in a bowl of water with the juice from one lemon.  They are lovely and orange in the jars now.  I recon that over time, depending on light and oxygen left in the jars, they will eventually change colour.  But we hope to use all that we have jarred this winter, not store them for ten years.  I have jarred white nectarines before in juice as opposed to syrup, without using ascorbic acid.  The colour did turn to brown after a year but they still tasted wonderful.

So the preserving season has started for this year.  I get very excited seeing new produce on the pantry shelves.  And with the trees starting to produce fruit, we hope to offer a fruit share next year.

Sweet Chilli Sauce

Condiments are a great thing to make from scratch...especially if you can use organic ingredients!  This is a very simple chilli sauce that looks great bottled! Ingredients 500g long fresh red chillies, stems trimmed 3 garlic cloves, peeled 750ml white vinegar 645g caster sugar

Method 1. Halve 100g of the chillies and place in the bowl of a food processor. Halve and de-seed the remaining chillies. Coarsely chop and place in the food processor. Add garlic and 250ml white vinegar. Process until finely chopped. 2. Place the chilli mixture, remaining vinegar and caster sugar in a large saucepan over a low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. 3. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 35-40 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Pour into sterilised airtight bottles and seal.

Recipe by Michelle Southan – Good Taste Magazine

Rocket Pesto

Rocket is a source of Vitamin C, folate and beta carotene.  It is also a source of calcium and potassium.  The slightly bitter flavour of rocket is an indicator of its valuable antioxidant content.  But if a bag of rocket is hard to use up in salads, sandwiches, pastas and pizzas, try making rocket pesto.  This works well as a dip on its own or spread on sourdough bread with sliced tomatoes.  You can also stir it into yogurt and serve with grilled lamb or chicken.  If you leave the cheese out, it freezes well for winter enjoyment! Ingredients 1/3 cup pine nuts (you can also use almonds, unsalted roasted cashews or walnuts) 1 garlic clove, peeled 100g rocket leaves, trimmed 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan squeeze of lemon juice salt and ground pepper to taste

Method 1. Place cashews and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.  process until coarsely chopped. 2.  Add rocket and lemon juice. Process drizzling the oil through the feed tube until the mixture is smooth. 3. Stir in parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

Pickled Red Cabbage

I really like pickled red cabbage with cheese and a chunk of sourdough bread or as an afternoon snack! Ingredients 1 large red cabbage 4 tbsp kosher or flake salt 1.2 L malt vinegar (1.2 litres) 3-4 tbsp of the homemade pickling spices in cheesecloth (or loose) OR you can use Herbie's Pickling Spice (available locally at the Blairgowrie IGA)

Pickling Spice 10-15 dried bay leaves 2 inch piece dried ginger 1 tbsp black mustard seeds 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds 1 tbsp black peppercorns 1 tbsp white peppercorns 1 tbsp mace blades 1 tbsp allspice berries 1 tbsp coriander seeds 2 tsp dill seeds 1 dried red chile, crushed 2 cinnamon sticks, crushed 6 cloves 1 tsp whole coriander seeds 1 tsp cardamon pods, crushed 1/2 star anise pod, crushed

Method 1. Pickling Mix - Combine all of the following, or make your own mix with what you have on hand, and store in an airtight container for up to six months. 2. Sterilize some jars and lids. Note: You need vinegar proof lids. 3. Quarter and finely shred your cabbage. Place in a bowl and sprinkle on the salt before mixing 4. Cover and leave for 6-8 hours (or overnight) - This is an important step as it draws the water out of the cabbage.  If omitted, your pickled cabbage could spoil. 5. Using a colander, rinse off the salt 6. Add the vinegar and the mix to a large saucepan and bring to the boil 7. Turn off the heat and let cool leaving in the spices for 3-4 hours before removing them 8. Pack your shredded cabbage into the jars before filling with the spiced vinegar. 9. Store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks before using. Eat within 3 months.