FOOD: Well preserved
PUBLISHED: 12:36 05 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:36 05 August 2014
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis has some inventive and delicious ways to make the most of the season's bounty
I have mixed feelings about August.
On the one hand, the nights are drawing in and summer is coming to an end. On the other, it’s one of the most bountiful months, creating a cornucopia of produce.
Scarlet raspberries, plums bursting with sticky juice, stacks of beans and more courgettes and marrows than you ever thought possible. They all seem to come at once.
For those who grow their own, the sheer volume of produce can be overwhelming. And, let’s be honest, there comes a point when even your friends, colleagues and next-door-neighbours-but-one start turning away your gestures of vegetable-based goodwill.
So here are some different ways to turn the harvest of your garden and allotment into something delicious and compact. Some of them will see you enjoying the fruits of your labour well after the season is over.
None of them is complicated, although a good food processor will help.
Sticky beetroot marmalade
This is an earthy, intriguing, sweet spread that will become one of the most versatile friends to have in the kitchen during autumn and winter. With just a little effort, you can turn beetroot into a beautiful maroon goo, that is not only divine with any cheese but also pairs well with cold cuts at Christmas, oily fish and enhances any rich casserole or stew
Ingredients: 500g cooked, peeled beetroot, 1tbsp oil, 2tsp yellow mustard seeds, 1 large onion chopped finely, 160g light brown sugar, 150ml water, 1tsp allspice, 1/2tsp cinnamon, 150ml cider vinegar, 2.5tsp salt
You need: Three small jam jars or one large preserving jar
Blitz the beetroot in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to crackle, add the onion and cook on a low heat until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil, then simmer on a low heat for about an hour until most of the liquid is gone and you have a thick, sticky mixture.
Spoon into jars, leave to cool, then store.
Piccalilli is an institution in Britain and according to those who love the stuff – my husband dabs it on everything – it makes a ham sandwich.
Ingredients: 250ml cider vinegar, 1tbsp coriander seeds, 1 diced onion, 1.5tbsp each mustard powder and plain white flour, 1tsp ground ginger, 1/2tsp curry powder, 1tsp turmeric, 2 carrots peeled and cut to half moons, 100g green beans chopped into 2cm pieces, 1 courgette cut into 1cm cubes, 2 garlic cloves sliced, 70g caster sugar, salt and pepper
You need: Two regular jam jars, sterilised
Boil onions and carrots in the vinegar for five minutes with the coriander seeds. Add the remaining vegetables and garlic and cook for a further two minutes. Strain the liquid and reserve it. Put vegetables into a bowl. In a separate bowl place mustard, turmeric, ginger, curry powder and flour. Add a tablespoon of the hot vinegar and mix to a paste. Gradually add more vinegar, combining to make a smooth mixture, until all the vinegar is incorporated. Pour the mustardy vinegar back into the pan, add the veg and bring to the boil, then simmer gently to thicken. Spoon into jam jars, cool and store.
Strawberry, basil and balsamic cordial
An unusual combination, but one that really works. The herbal, green notes of basil are perfect with strawberries and balsamic vinegar, frequently paired with fruit in European dishes, brings an acidic tang to what could otherwise be an overly sweet drink. Dilute it with water, drizzle over ice cream, or add to Champagne cocktails. It really tastes like the essence of summer.
Ingredients: 500g strawberries, hulled and halved, 400ml water, 4 tbsps best balsamic vinegar, handful finely chopped basil leaves.
You need: two small sterilised Kilner-type bottles (pictured)
Start the day before by mashing the strawberries with the basil and sugar, or do it in a food processor.
The next day pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds and basil and put the puree in a saucepan with the water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until thickened and glossy. Test to see if it’s ready by taking a little out with a spoon and rubbing it between your fingers. It should feel greasy like Vaseline. Pour into the prepared bottles and refrigerate. Use within a week.