Archive for March, 2010

Posted on 3rd March 2010

Grow | Beetroot

By MEREDITH KIRTON

growing beetroot

Beetroot has had a Renaissance in popularity and with good reason.  The vitamin and fibre rich content, plus the fact that it contains no fat, make them terribly good for you, but did you know that you can also eat the leaves and eat them as a salad green? Beetroot is available in seeds in many shapes and colours, from the standard globe shape in with either white, yellow, orange or red colourings, to more cylindrical bulbs.  They can be eaten raw, pickled, as dips and baked, so break out of tinned beetroot on hamburgers into the world of home grown goodness, flavour and colour. Beetroot seeds can be sown in most areas of Australia from mid winter to mid autumn, giving them a very long season indeed.  They are very fast to crop too, and reach maturity in about 10 weeks.  Soak the seed first for a few hours to ensure germination, then sow direct into the soil where you want them to grow.  Water regularly and feed every fortnight for maximum sweetness as starved beets equals fibrous roots and possible attack from nematode.

beetroot varieties

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Posted under grow
Posted on 3rd March 2010

Harvest | Beetroot

By MANDY SINCLAIR

harvesting beetroot

Storage:
Trimmed, beetroot will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Use sprouts in salads – pan-fried in olive oil with garlic, anchovies, capers and lemon juice.

What to do with glut

  • Preserve:

Cook whole in a large saucepan of boiling water for 1hr or until tender. Drain and when cool enough to handle peel.  Meanwhile, combine 2 cups brown vinegar, 3 cups brown sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Place whole or thickly sliced beetroot in sterilized preserving bottles and cover with hot vinegar syrup. Store in a cool dark place for 4-6 months.

  • Dry:

beetroot chips

Place 1 cup of caster sugar in a large bowl. Pour over 1 cup of hot water and stir until dissolved. Trim, peel and thinly slice beetroot. Line baking trays with baking paper. Dip beetroot slices into sugar syrup an pat dry. Lay beetroot in a single layer on a baking paper lined tray. Bake for 20-30 mins, until crisp. Cool before storing in clip lock bags. If chips go a little soft, reheat on trays in oven for 5 mins to crisp up before serving.

recipe for beetroot chips

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 3rd March 2010

Cook | Beetroot

By MANDY SINCLAIR

beetroot and goat curd tart

Beetroot & goat curd tart

1 tbsp oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
about 400g thickly sliced preserved beetroot
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 tbsp butter, melted
50g soft goat’s cheese
1 cup beet sprouts
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 220C or 200C fan.
2. Heat oil in a 20cm, ovenproof frying pan on medium. Cook onion for 10 mins, until very soft. Add vinegar and sugar and cook, stirring, for 3 mins, until caramelized. Remove from heat. Arrange beetroot over onion, overlapping slightly, to cover completely.
3. Cut a 19cm round from pastry. Lay over beetroot, tucking down sides slightly. Brush with melted butter. Transfer to oven and bake for 25 mins, until puffed and golden.
4. Allow to sit in pan for 5 mins, before inverting onto a serving plate. Crumble over goat’s cheese and scatter with beet sprouts. Drizzle over oil before serving.

Makes 1 / serves 2


tip ….
Beetroot are very messy to prepare so wear disposable gloves when handling. Always try to cook beetroot in their skins as this will preserve flavour and colour.


try this ….
Scrub and peel baby beetroot. Cut into quarters and place on a sheet of foil with 1 knob of unpeeled garlic. Drizzle with a little oil and season well. Wrap up foil to enclose, place in a baking pan and bake at 180c or 160C fan for 1 hr, until tender. Squeeze garlic from skin over beetroot. Serve with roast beef or as a side dish at a barbecue.


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Posted under cook
Posted on 1st March 2010

Grow | Cucumber

By MEREDITH KIRTON

cucumbers climbing on a trellis

homegrown cucumber

Cucumbers are so easy to grow and crop so profusely that is a pleasure to grow them.  The only thing is that you can end up with so many fruits over summer and autumn that you begin to wonder how you might possibly ever eat them all.  Luckily they are as easy to pickle (think bread and butter cucumbers with tasty cheese sandwiches) as they are to grow.

Cucumbers are actually sprawling plants.  They grow either as a vine tied onto trellis work or, what is more common is Australia, as a ground cover.  There are a few tricks to raising the seeds however.  For starters, make sure you dig over the soil and create a mound out of the aerated earth.  Moisten the soil, and then plant 4 seeds into each mound and leave about 70cm between each mound and keep well watered.  When the seedlings emerge after about a week, wait a few weeks then pick the two weakest plants out, leaving only the strongest 2 in the ground.  The main thing to watch is that you keep them well mulched and watered and that they are in plenty of sun.  If you don’t have enough room in your beds, you can also grow cucumbers in 40cm or larger tubs, with a tripod or trellis to tie the vine onto.

Cucumbers also have male and female flowers, so need bees to help pollinate them.  Encourage them into your garden by planting nasturtium, borage and basil.  Alternatively, you can use a paintbrush and transfer the pollen manually from the male flowers to the female (these have a swollen base) ones using a paintbrush.

Harvest time is about 6-7 weeks after sowing in spring, and they’ll continue to crop till the weather gets too cold or the water runs out.  Smaller fruits taste sweetest and should be picked with a knife or simply broken off the main plant. Sometimes cucumbers can get a mildew on their leaves.  Remove any effected leaves immediately and then spray with 1 parts milk, 9 parts water from then on to help keep it under control.

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st March 2010

Community | Seed Saving

By ADELE JACKSON

cucumber Our cucumbers were one of our most successful crops this summer. We had two types – Crystal Apple and Lebanese cucumbers. I tied ribbon around four plump cucumbers that I wanted to save for seed, so that no one would harvest them. Through the heat in January I watched the vine turn brown and the cucumber swell. When the vine was all but dead, I picked the cucumbers, and let them ripen further in our pantry. When they were soft and spongy, I cut them into quarters, and scooped out the pulp and seeds inside. I put these in a shallow dish. I then put about an inch of water on top of them. I left them in a warm place for five days, then scooped the scum off the top. One interesting thing about cucumber and tomato seeds is that the immature and infertile seeds are lighter than the mature ones, so they float to the top. I then dried these seeds and packaged them. I recently planted some that have just come up, and I have had a very high germination rate.

grow harvest cook community gardener

Adele is 12 years old, and helps look after large veggie garden in Sydney. One of her passions is saving good-quality seeds.  Her others are sailing, piano, choir and reading.

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Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

 

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Posted under community
Posted on 1st March 2010

Harvest | Cucumber

By MANDY SINCLAIR

cucumber

Storing:
Cucumbers do not like excessive cold, so store in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator. They will keep for at least 5 days

What to do with glut

  • Freeze:

Due to the high water content of cucumbers cannot be frozen fresh. However you can freeze cucumber soup quite successfully in an airtight container.

  • Preserve:

Bread and butter cucumbers

Slice 1kg cucumbers and 2 onions. Place in a colander and sprinkle over ½ cup coarse salt. Leave to drain for 2hrs, pressing down every 30 mins, to extract liquid. Rinse off salt under running water, drain and pat dry with kitchen paper.
Combine 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup white sugar, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp peppercorns and 1 tsp cumin seeds slice, in a saucepan and bring to boil. Fill sterilized jars with cucumber and onion and pour over hot vinegar mixture. Seal and store in a cool place. They will need 6-8 weeks before being ready to eat.

bread and butter cucumbers

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 1st March 2010

Cook | Cucumber

By MANDY SINCLAIR

crab and avocado cucumber cups

Crab & avocado cucumber cups

4 small cucumbers, ends trimmed
150g fresh blue swimmer crab meat
1 avocado, finely diced
2 tbsp coconut cream
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
grated rind of 1 lime
snipped dill, to serve

1. Slice cucumbers into 3cm lengths. Using a melon baller, scoop out seeds from each piece of cucumber to form a cup.
2. Combine remaining ingredients. Season to taste. Fill each cucumber cup with crab mixture and serve.

Makes about 21


tip….
Prepare filling and scooped out cucumber cups ahead of time, refrigerate and fill just before serving.

try this ….
Cucumber soup
Peel 2 long or 6 small cucmbers. Cut in half and scrape out seeds. Roughly chop the flesh and place in a food processor with 1 cup chicken stock, 1 cup greek style yoghurt, 2 tbsp chopped mint, 2 tbsp snipped chives,salt, pepper and a few drops of Tabasco. Process until smooth. Refrigerate until very cold. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and snipped chives.


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Posted under cook