Gardener:Somerset Sue

Date:08 Feb 2022

Blog Type:Vegetables, Recipes

I have a dear male friend who hates beetroot. Back in the day when we used to visit a burger bar (not McD's or BK, way before then) after being out for a big night he always made sure he told the cook "NO beetroot"

New Years Eve we were at he and his partner's home for a pot luck barbecue. I took a beetroot and feta salad - he had two helpings. The beetroot he hated is out of a can, bland and slimy. The beetroot in the salad was home grown and bottled, sweet and delicious.

As a child there was always a bowl of home bottled beetroot on the table when we had a salad and when Mum made club sandwiches for a picnic or party there was always thinly sliced beetroot in one layer. I love beetroot. Apart from the fact that it is full of essential vitamins and minerals, it tastes really good. 

Beetroot is also really easy to grow. Yates has several varieties. I prefer cylindra as it is nicely shaped for slicing and boils evenly for bottling. While it's often recommended you sow the seed straight into the garden, I sow it in seedraising mix, prick out the seedlings and then plant them into the vegie garden. That way there is no waste thinning plants. When the leaves are small and young they are delicious in salads as part of a mesclun mix.

Once your beets are fat and bulging out of the ground you pull them, cut the stalks and leaves into the compost and then give the beets a good rinse. From here there are so many options. You can roast them, grate them raw for salads or slice and grill them... google has a million ideas.

I love to bottle them the way my Mum did. I boil them (don't peel them) until tender then run them under cold water. The skins will then slip off in the most satisfying way. Yesterday I was boiling beetroot when my son and daughter-in-law called in. I asked if she'd ever peeled beetroot before, she had a go and was hooked!!

I then slice them and put aside. Then I bring to the boil in a large preserving pan 2/3rds water, 1/3rd brown vinegar and around 2 cups of sugar (more if you like your pickle sweet). Once that is boiling I add the beetroot back to the pan, bring the lot back to the boil for five minutes and then bottle. Google the overflow method if you haven't done bottling before.

The Super Husband describes the aroma in the kitchen when I am preserving betroot as somewhere between earthy and pickle heaven!