Alongside the potatoes, this year's debut allotment project has also produced bumper crops of beetroot.
Beetroot are an acquired taste. Boiled to submission, they can retain all of the character of a Saturday night singing contest. However, roasted slowly to tease out the sugars makes for a unique vegetable that sits perfectly alongside your Sunday roast or simply diced and tossed into a cold pasta or rice salad.
They are probably more used to the pickling treatment in this country. This process can demolish the beet's subtle flavours but when you have more beetroot than you can juggle with, sometimes the pickling jars are the only option. I've devised a simple spiced version with a balanced flavour of sweet and sour. Placed in between two doorsteps of bread with a hunk of strong Cheddar cheese, it helps make arguably one of the best sandwiches in the world.
Spiced Pickled Beetroot
Makes approximately 4 large jars
8 whole beetroot
500ml malt vinegar
200g caster sugar
4 whole chillies
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp salt
4 large picking jars
1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM4. Clean the beetroot and place into a square of foil. Drizzle with a little olive oil, wrap thoroughly then place onto the middle shelf and bake for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
2 - Sterilise your jars by placing into a warm oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
3 - To make the pickling liquor, place the vinegar, sugar, chillies and spices into a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat.
3 - Peel the skin from the beetroot. Slice thickly then place equally into the jars. Pour over the spiced pickling liquor and share out the chillies and spices. Seal and put into a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks to allow the flavours to develop before eating.