Archives for posts with tag: beetroot

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Cultivate is an active and inspiring  food cooperative in Oxford, England that unites growers and eaters in lots of fun ways. I encountered this poem on their website and wanted to share it here.

I hope that Jack Pritchard, “an Oxford-based wanderer (and occasional writer, forager, brewer and outdoor-swimmer)” — a.k.a. Oxford Wild Food — can imagine my hyper-linking on his poem as a kind of inter-genre collaboration. 🙂  In fact you could follow him on Twitter at @OxfordWildFood if you like Haiku in your feed, as I do!

But please read it once through before any naughty clicking, just to give this fabulous, hilarious piece of writing its due.

“Beet Poetry” by Jack Pritchard

I have seen the best veg of my germination destroyed by cooking:
carrots, beetroot, swedes; mashed with butter by angry chefs at dusk,
or grated and juiced by the illuminated machinery of kitchens
purple-headed onions burning in forgotten pans in neon-lit takeaways
and lettuce, turning, turning:
caught in the starry dynamo of the machinery of saladspinner.
Carrots, who curled, abandoned, on chopping boards; and leeks
who ran through streets in mad dreams screaming “celeriac! celeriac!”.
who rotted down on compost heaps
who sprouted in the supernatural dark of larders,
who were lost, beneath mouse-grey mould on ectoplasmic fridge-door shelves

who were rooted in the shadow of Didcot smokestacks
who cowered in terror under September squash-leaves
who tasted radiant cool flesh, of early-morning marrows
and who wept onion-tears as they contemplated
knifesteel, from hessian sacks and box-scheme crates:
who faced the peeler and the grater in insane fear of casserole
and nightmares of spilt beetrootblood, and gouged potato-eyes

who were macerated, blended, chopped; or marinated overnight with wine:
who leached their flavours into stock, or roasted crisp around the body of a duck
who dreamed of honey-glaze. Chillies,
who spilled their hot seed carelessly on formica worktops, and parsnips
too obscene for supermarket shelves: who were diced and boiled
for pasties and trapped inside the crescents of crusts, or
who found their place in cold cottage-pies

who were gently peeled, and chopped and sliced
with beetroot in the quiet of Oxford kitchens
who were dressed in oil in soft wooden spoonfuls:
who were served in bowls in cornerless rooms,
haunted by the echoes of verse and song
who shared their hearts with loving people,
who dream of broccoli forests and
who understand the power and the poetry
in these thin green stems.

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And a little more on the theme:

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Thanks to Bill Whitehead 

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It’s thrilling though rare to learn about traditional fermenting with vegetables in Britain, and in Wales in particular.  This Beetroot Stout is a healing recipe that is totally new to me. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m on a kick to simplify, and Kvass in its method seems to be the simplest fermented drink possible.  Kvass just happens, really. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kimchi-Love here, maybe addictive passion, but I am not alone. Variations are fun and endless and you will be rewarded for experimenting with what you have. Read the rest of this entry »

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All week I’d been throwing things into a small stock pot: onion and leek scraps, parsley stems, skin from roasted pumpkin, carrot scrapings and beetroot skins.

I simmered them and made a stock for a nice lentil soup (which included some #pumpkinrescue pumpkin).  Beet is a wonderful ingredient in stocks, but sometimes it’s the only time the gorgeous colour feels wrong, because it announces itself rather than coming in with stealth. Unannounced, beet is a great suggester of the richness of meat– there’s something of blood and iron in the flavour.  It’s great grated into vegetarian “Spag Bol” variations for this reason, though again, the colour needs to be accepted in this instance, not fought.

We’ve been busy, and the extra “stock” was sitting out on the stove stop, unstrained, unrefrigerated.  Yesterday I sieved out the vegetable bits to put the liquid in the fridge.  Tasting it, it was sour, and I thought, off.  And was about to chuck it.  Me!  Ms Ferment, Ms Anti-Waste, throwing out food!.

But I thought again, and tasted a bigger sip.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Thank you Bill Whitehead for the much-appreciated opportunity to laugh.

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I’ve lost the stained photocopy of my fool-proof marmalade recipe.

And I’d just bought a bag of organic, discounted end-of-the-line Seville Oranges, and some Blood Oranges, which to me are sweet-bitter-tart red-juice heaven.  So I needed to proceed without that perfect recipe– perfect in proportion, and in technique, and see what I can remember….

I remember:

the best thing is to save the pips/seeds and soak them in water for as long as possible, for a natural pectin.

from experience, many recipes call for too much water, which you end up wasting time and energy boiling off.

reading somewhere that old time peeps stuck in other fruits available (apples, for example), and a carrot now and then…

So that’s what I’ll do then: Divide my giant pan of orange peels and make four batches:

Orange  (Seville and Blood) and Beetroot Marmalade; Orange and Parsnip Marmalade; Orange and Carrot Marmalade, Orange and Beetroot and Parsnip and Carrot Marmalade.

The idea is to augment this essentially exotic (though traditional) preserve with a little bit of a local/seasonal ethos– and feel good about the vegetable content.

When I make jams, I’ve always been successful with the Joy of Cooking proportions done in volume measurements (the American way, vs. weight).  The recipe for jam from berries says 4 cups fruit to 3 cups sugar.  Wary of white sugar, I always try to reduce amounts, aware nonetheless that jam is after all a fruit and sugar preserve, and needs the sugar to gel and not go mouldy.   So with my Blackberry Jam, for instance, I’ll usually go for a very generous 4 cups to a very very scant 3 cups, and sometimes reduce further.  This will still taste super sweet to me.

Doing it this way, you can work with the amount of fruit and vegetable you happen to have, either more or less than a recipe might specify.  I’ve put over-ripe bananas in marmalade, soft apples…

I halved the oranges, as in the picture above, and squeezed the pips /seeds out into a sieve, retaining the juice.  The skins I cut into fine shreds.  The pips/ seeds soaked overnight in water, and indeed that water became gelatinous in texture, almost like flax seeds when soaked– so one can see why they are a great thickener.  I strained out the seeds and added the “pectin-water.”  And a little more water felt right.

And then I divided that lot of orange shreds, and to each lot added a cup or two of grated veg, measuring then the full bulk and adding sugar in the 4 to 3 ratio above.

(Next time I might cut the vegetables in fine, julienned slivers, for a slight “candied” effect.  When I thought to do this, I’d already committed myself to grating, which has a bulkier effect.)

Then simmer, for ages, until the orange is soft.  Add water if you feel you will need more “syrup.”  Test the jam’s readiness by placing a spoonful on a small plate in the fridge and if when cool it’s the texture you like, it’s ready.  Then place in hot hot hot jars, with a small round of parchment paper on top in case mould does want to grow, and put the lid on promptly.  That’s your marmalade.*

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The photos don’t show the colours subtly enough– the really red one is the beetroot, the lightest one, the parsnip, and the medium dark one, the carrot.  They all taste very subtly different.

I am crazy for the bitter back taste of marmalade.  I reckon these preserves would be wonderful to make little Christmas tartlets with as well, with walnuts I’m imagining.

On the theme of vegetable jams, here are some nice recipes from the ever interesting kitchens of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

In December I made a lovely carrot jam, remembering Jane Grigson remembering Mrs. Beeton (recipe can be found on this site) — Jane Grigson in the wonderful book Good Things sticks in an almond I think, and talks about carrots being a war-time subsitute for apricots.  The colour is gorgeous.  I decided to up the almond idea by adding almond extract, and would do this again.  I look forward to making jam tarts with this carrot jam.

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*Postscript, 16 May 2014.  I’ve been reading about Beet Jam, and came across this explanation why alkaline vegetables are not really shelf stable.  No one I’d encountered before was worried, but I feel dutibound, as a worrywort myself, to mention that Eugenia, below, recommends these as refrigerator jams vs. long term preserves.

 

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A link for you: http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/fermenting-beetroot-preserving-your-abundant-crops-making-elixir

I wrote this article a while back, though it’s quite heavily edited, and the photo in it is not mine (and not what my borschts look like) but hey ho.  It appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Permaculture Magazine.  I’m linking to it here because it’s just been put on that wonderful website which makes me happy: people-scale solutions, positivity, DIY, community, openness…

I would nowadays describe making Beet Kvass this way:  Finely chop a few beets, add a teeny bit of salt for taste, and whatever flavours you like: ginger, garlic, orange, clove, fennel seed, lovage, nettle — whatevs!  Cover with water, and weight down the solids to be completely under the liquid. Watch for a few days as the liquid gets pinker, more and more gorgeous a colour, and more viscous and velvety.   At some point it’s nicely tangy, strain out the solids, and if you bottle and cap the drink, which I now see as a fermented infusion, and drink it soon, can be pleasantly effervescent.  (Let the gas out now and then to prevent an explosion– but you’ll probably drink it first.)

The solids that remain in the sieve: yes you can pickle in apple cider vinegar for a soft, traditional British style pickle, or you can grate in a salad. Or add to soups.  Or re-ferment, doing all of the above, again.  I have even used these semi-tired beetroot shreds to make vinegar, by adding a little sugar and water and inviting the alcohol that develops to morph into a wild vinegar, as discussed earlier in this blog.  The vinegar that’s resulted has been a beautiful ingredient to deglaze pans of sautéed bitter greens, and also in soups.

I would no longer suggest grating the beetroot for fermentation purposes, because the slow development of nice souring lactic-acid bacteria is often trumped by all the sugars released this way, and shredding beets can create an unwanted gloopiness.  Chop finely instead.   (I do love raw grated beetroot one way: in a lemony vinaigrette; the sweetness really shines this way.)

And Borscht.  So very much to say.  My mother taught me to make a recipe I now look at askance– lots of vegetables like carrots, onions, beetroot, so it would be that gorgeous purple, but soured with vinegar not by fermentation….   Some people make very beety soups, pureed or not, and call them borscht. I don’t know what technically defines the category of soup referred by this name, but I would not personally consider a soup to be one if it were not sour, and to me it’s more of one if it’s soured with fermented beets.  So I would now always use my “kvass” as the souring agent at the end— maybe it would begin with chicken or beef stock, or veg stock, have many vegetables including cabbage, and maybe even sauerkraut, but be finished with chopped or shredded beets.  Hot and sour is a very bright and healing combination for soup.  Cold and sour too.   I’ve seen versions bright pepto-bismol pink with cream or sour cream, and sometimes chopped hard-boiled eggs.  Potatoes are welcome, and carrots.  I like adding the beet greens too.  There’s a huge range of soups across Eastern European traditions.  It would be a fun anthropological exercise to collect and categorise all that variation and diversity.

I have a wonderful 1956 cookbook which I treasure: Love and Knishes: An Irrepressible Guide to Jewish Cooking, by Sara Kasdan.  It was 20pence at a charity shop! (I am proud to say that I edited the Wikipedia entry on the illustrator Louis Slobodkin to include mention of his drawings which are charming, light-weight line drawings of big breasted women cooking and serving steaming portions to skinny men.)   Kasdan writes about “Russel,” or “sour beet juice” which is basically beetroots fermented in water for four weeks to become the basis of a soup.  I knew a Polish person who described this same method, with a hunk of sourdough bread and garlic– all variations of what we are nowadays as fermenters talking about as Kvass.

Since writing the piece linked above,  I’ve made so many bottles of this beetroot kvass, with various spices (favourite: cloves and ginger and maybe orange peel) — and poured it in so many soups, I still believe in this idea of a continuum between the tonic, health giving beverage, as Kvass has come to be thought about, and the soup.  I’ve also become intensely interested in the idea and practice of the sour soup, which I will write about on this blog some day soonish. No colour is more alluring than these purply pinks that one gets from various intensities of beet-in-water.  Elixer conjures a magic I still stand by.

http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/fermenting-beetroot-preserving-your-abundant-crops-making-elixir

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