Allotment · My other ramblings

Picking, Peeling and Pickling

The arrival of the school holidays also marks the start of harvesting crops from the allotment more. On Friday morning, the children and I headed to the allotment bright and early, armed with a full petrol can for me to put in the lawn mower and a few tubs to collect harvested items in.

I spent the best part of an hour and a half mowing the edges of the plot and the areas which we are currently not growing anything on. This was a very well times tidying up session as the allotments were being inspected as I was doing it (I didn’t know until later, when my neighbour told me!) A few of the allotment holders are on final warnings now because they aren’t doing anything to their plots, which is a shame. Luckily a few weeds here and there doesn’t mean you get issued with a ‘special letter’ as long as it’s obvious you are tending to your plot. Ours looks much better now it’s been mown!

Once I’d done that (and little Miss C had stopped crying about the noise of the mower), we are to work weeding raised beds. I set my 5 year old onto weeding his pumpkin bed since it was his idea, and he proudly counted how many buckets he filled with weeds! I looked after the other areas, and, upon tending to the beetroot bed, I noticed that a few were ready for harvesting. I went through the whole bed, thinning out those which had grown very close together and pulling up any which looked large enough to harvest. Some of the thinnings were substantial enough to be used so I kept them and the others went to our (rather delighted) chickens.

By lunch time the plot was looking a lot more loved, so we went home for a rest. Whilst the children recovered from their strenuous morning of weeding, I trimmed the stems on the beetroot and sorted them roughly by size. (Learning from last year’s mistake of putting them all in the same pan and ending up with some very overcooked smaller beets!) I ended up with three pans boiling-enormous beetroot, middle sized ones and small ones. Whilst they boiled (for varying amounts of time from 20-45 minutes) I prepared the jars, which I had saved from last year. We picked up some Kilner jars cheaply when a local Homebase closed, but we’ve also saved other jars as we knew we would be doing quite a lot of preserving. After washing them in hot soapy water, I sterilized them in the oven at 150° for 15 minutes, leaving them in the oven until required. 

Once the smallest beet were cooked I gently heated some pickling vinegar and began to skin the beet. My hands were a mess after, but the boiling process followed by plunging them in cold water makes the skins literally pop off. Honestly, it’s a really satisfying feeling when the beet pops put leaving the skin whole! (You just need to be careful that you don’t shoot beetroot at light coloured surfaces and leave your kitchen looking like a blood bath.)

I pickled the smallest beet whole and sliced the others into the jars, adding the warm vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar to each (a tip from my Nanny, who always had one of the large glass Quality Streets jars full of pickled beet in the bottom of her pantry!) Overall we got three jars full just from the first harvest (and they went from the ground to a jar in less than 5 hours!) I think there will be loads more ready in 3-4 weeks and those may be pickled too, or perhaps added to some chutney as there’s an apple tree at Mr C’s parents’ house where I can get free apples, and we are bound to have some green tomatoes left. Lots of preserving possibilities! I can’t wait to sample the pickled beetroot in a few weeks or so, I love it in salads.

What are your favourite things to preserve? And please tell me I’m not alone with the beetroot peeling thing…

17 thoughts on “Picking, Peeling and Pickling

  1. Lovely that you got that mowing done when you did lol.. And yes one or two have had warnings issued on ours.. a plot three door away only grew garlic on his he planted the whole lot with it, then left it to grow among the weeds, he harvested and we found he has two more plots.. But he is giving up the one now which he grew the garlic on.. I know his neighbours will be smiling as hopefully someone will take over to take care of weeds..
    Beetroot is just a favourite of ours too, and so good for you, Have you tried it in smoothies?? I am sure you will love it made with apple juice, just blend.. This is a great site for Beetroot recipes I love it
    And no I had not used that method of peeling.. I usually wait till the beets have gone cold and then just rub my fingers around the skins and they slide off.. Red fingers, but satisfying lol
    Happy School Hols and Harvesting Mrs C.. ❤ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard to have an allotment if people around you aren’t looking after theirs, though I’m trying to be empathetic and consider why they aren’t doing anything. I will have to look at the beetroot recipe site, I’m hopeful we will have plenty more! Thanks for the holiday wishes, so far much if my time has been spent refereeing the kids arguing! X

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like to make my own relish, pickles, and pickled beets. So I’m pretty strong on pickling cucumbers. I can’t grow my own but they get super cheap this time of year. Looks like you’ve got a ton of beets to enjoy!

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      1. Cucumber and cucumber-related canned staples have been my first priority in canning since I moved to a place devoid of relish and that thinks that pickles are simply bathing in vinegar in a barrel you buy by the 100 grams at the local deli. Trying out some chutneys has been on my brain as well and I’ve been plotting for that in autumn, when the ingredients for those are in season and cheap around here. I repeat, I live in a land that does not have relish. And I’ve run out of my own homemade relish. Very distressing. LOL

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  3. I have not mastered the art of growing and pickling beets. I tried a couple years ago and I think I let them in the ground too long….they were woody. My mom used to can quarts and quarts of pickled beets and they were delicious.

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  4. I haven’t tried beets, but the summer I did pickles, the house smelled like vinegar for days! We have a lot of fruit trees on our property, so I tend to stick to jams and preserves. However, I’m finally getting a vegetable garden to actually produce this year, so hopefully my repertoire will expand!

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