relishing beetroot

I turned my back for just a day or so and the courgettes went mad. How can something smaller than my little finger grow into a one foot wonder in such a short time?

I wasn’t watching the courgettes because I was too busy picking runner beans that, as predicted, we’re eating every day.

Meanwhile, the beetroot just keep growing steadily (the marathon runners rather than sprinters) that will take us through the cooler months of autumn.

In summer we eat raw beetroot simply grated and dressed with oil and raspberry vinegar or mixed with carrots and a scattering of parsley. I use cooked beetroot to make a hummous-like dish of purpleness by chopping it  in the food processor with  tannini, lemon juice and a little ground coriander.

To cook beetroot, I usually wash it, wrap it in foil while it’s still wet and put in the oven for a good hour until it’s soft. After it’s cooled a little, the skins can just be rubbed off. In autumn, I chop beetroot into wedges and roast with carrots, onions, garlic cloves and sweet potato, drizzled with a little oil. The only problem is that everything gets tinged with the purple juices of the beetroot, but that’s the way of beetroot.

When the beetroot threaten to grow from golf ball to tennis ball size, I make Beetroot Relish which, to my mind, is a far better way of preserving beetroot than dousing it in vinegar. Until we married, Bill had only eaten beetroot pickled in vinegar and so he was slightly surprised when I made hot beetroot in white sauce, which was the only way I’d eaten it. While he still puts a slice of vinegar sodden beetroot in his cheese sandwich, I agree with Jane, The Shady Baker that it stains everything and runs everywhere and generally makes a sandwich pretty unappealing. I’d rather use this Beetroot Relish, which is also good with pickled herrings, cheese and cold meats.

Beetroot Relish – adapted from Preserves by Pam Corbin

1kg beetroot
1-2 tablespoons rapeseed (or olive) oil
250g sugar
150ml raspberry vinegar
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
80g tube sundried tomato puree

Cut the roots and tops from the beetroot,  scrape off any rough looking bits of skin and then rub the oil over the beetroot and put them into a roasting tin and cover loosely with foil. Cook at 180C for about an hour, maybe longer if your beetroot are big, until they’re cooked through. Leave to cool a little and then chop the beetroot in the food processor; I leave the skins on but you may want to rub them off, particularly if your beetroot is a bit aged.
While your beetroot is cooling, put the sugar, vinegar and onion into a large saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes to cook the onion. Then add the ground coriander, tomato puree and beetroot and bring your mixture back to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes so that the mixture thickens a bit.
Pour the hot relish into sterilised jars and seal with vinegar-proof lids. It’s ready to eat straight away, but best kept in the fridge once opened.

12 thoughts on “relishing beetroot

  1. Thomasina Tittlemouse says:

    What a great recipe – sounds delicious and with the tang of vinegar but without the great roaring dominance of it. Going to try this with some beetroot from the farm shop once I see it in there. I love your little drawings by the way on the labels – very stylish indeed! E x

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  2. Jane says:

    Oh, yum! I really quite like the vinegar sort of beetroot in a sandwich but only when freshly made, and probably only because I was never made to eat it as a child. Must be about time for us to plant ‘beetroops,’ as my smallest calls them.

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  3. ceciliag says:

    Your garden is doing so well. i have heard that those big courgettes keep quite well for the winter, though i am sure they are only good for stuffing!! Well done on the beetroot.. I just ate all mine as fast as i could .. bad little home maker that i am.. c

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