Saturday, 20 August 2011


What to do with them?

No matter how good you are at successional sowing or planting what you think is the right amount of plants most if not all allotment gardeners end up with a glut of at least one vegtable or fruit. The question is what do you do with all the extra fresh veg you have? This year as per usual we are now experiencing our glut period and it is the usual suspects that are providing us with more than we can cope with runner beans, tomatoes and courgettes. Here is what we do, knock on neighbours doors and give them a little bundles of food, freeze as much as we can including tomatoes for making sauces later on and make chutneys. When arriving back form Cornwall last weekend  we had a vast amount so I decided to pick and bag stuff and bring it in to work to sale and made the princely sum of £16.50.

My next venture is to purchase a food dehydrator and dry fruit and vegtables for later use, I would also like to make prunes from the huge amount of plums we have. Here are a couple of my favourite chutney and pickle recipes.

1 1/2lbs plums (preferably Victoria)
1 1/2lbs cooking apples
8 oz tomatoes-red or green
1 lb raisins
8 oz onions
1 1/2lb Demerara sugar
about 4oz glace or preserved ginger (or failing that, about a good teaspoon of ground ginger!)
1 clove garlic-finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons salt
1 pint pickling vinegar
¼ oz chillies, or about a teaspoon of chilli sauce

Wash plums, stone & quarter them
Roughly chop tomatoes & put them both into a large pan.
Put onions, apples, raisins, ginger & garlic through the coarse blade of a mincer or chop finely in a food processor, then add to pan with vinegar , sugar & salt.
Tie chillies in a gauze square using string & suspend them from the pan handle (into the mixture!!!). If using sauce, put straight into pan.
Cook chutney very slowly for at least 2-3 hours (no lid on pan!) until most of the liquid has evaporated. To test if it’s ready, make a channel across the top of the chutney using a wooden spoon. If the spoon leaves a channel imprinted for a few seconds – without it filling with vinegar – then it’s ready.
Give it a few good stirs during cooking, especially near the end to stop it sticking to the pan.
Pot whilst still hot, into hot jars. Seal with wax discs & tight vinegar proof lids.


Spiced Mustard Pickle (Piccalilli)

 2 oz (50 g) dry mustard powder
 ½ whole nutmeg, grated
 ½ level teaspoon ground allspice
 1 oz (25 g) ground turmeric
 2 medium cauliflowers, divided into 1 inch (2.5 cm) florets
 1 lb (450 g) small pickling onions, peeled and halved, through the root
 2 small cucumbers (each weighing 9 oz/250 g), peeled, cut into ¼ inch (5 mm) rounds, then each round quartered
 1 lb (450 g) dwarf green beans, topped and tailed and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) lengths (or 1 lb/450 g runner beans, destringed and cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm diagonal slices)
 4 oz (110 g) sea salt
 2 pints (1.2 litres) malt vinegar, plus 5 extra tablespoons
 6 oz (175 g) golden caster sugar
 2 cloves garlic, crushed with 3 teaspoons salt
 1 level dessertspoon fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
 1 oz (25 g) sauce flour


You need to begin this the day before. What you do is place the prepared cauliflower and onions in a non-metallic bowl, and the cucumbers and beans in another. Then whisk the salt into 4 pints (2.25 litres) of cold water to make a brine, and pour this over the vegetables. Now put a plate with a weight on it on top of each one to keep them submerged and leave them for 24 hours.

The next day, drain away the salt water and briefly rinse the vegetables. Now place the cauliflower, onions and the 2 pints (1.2 litres) vinegar together in the pan. Then add the nutmeg and allspice, bring it up to the boil, cover and simmer for 8 minutes. Next, take off the lid and stir in the cucumbers, beans, sugar, garlic and ginger. Now bring the mixture up to simmering point again, cover and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. The vegetables should still be slightly crisp, so don't go away and forget them.

Next, set a large colander over a large bowl, pour the contents of the pan into it and leave it all to drain, reserving the vinegar. Then mix the mustard powder, turmeric and flour together in another bowl. Gradually work in the additional tablespoons of vinegar and 2 tablespoons water so the mixture becomes a fairly smooth paste. Now add a ladleful of the hot vinegar liquid drained from the vegetables, stir again and transfer the sauce mixture to a saucepan.

Bring it to the boil, gradually whisking in the remaining hot vinegar. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes, then transfer the vegetables from the colander back to the large bowl, and pour over the sauce. Stir really well now to mix everything evenly, then spoon the piccalilli into the hot, sterilised jars. Cover straightaway with waxed discs, seal with vinegar-proof lids and when cold, label and store the piccalilli in a cool, dry, dark place to mellow for 3 months before eating.

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