Saturday 26 April 2014

The vegetables that came in from the cold.....

I haven't been on the blog recently for several reasons, one is that I have been spending a lot of time actually doing the allotment, rather than sitting in front of a computer screen writing about it, but the other is that I spent some time in Moscow recently with friends.

Whilst I was there I visited their dacha, which they refer to as their "country house". Thought the countryside (which is mostly forest anyway) is a rapidly disappearing commodity outside of the MKAD (Moscow outer ring road), as lots of dachas get thrown up with no planning rules and no restrictions.

Anyway, our friends grow fruit and vegetables as best they can given the short growing season, and the fact that the land around the dacha is really just forest floor which is very unsuitable for growing. So, they have created a lot of raised beds, and got a glass house (which needs repair due to the weight of last winter's snow crushing it), and have grown quite a variety of fruit and vegetables, such as cucumbers, apples (which are attached close to a single stem plant) and salad plants.

Although not suitable for directly growing, the forest is good for mushrooms (гриб), which every Russian seems to know which are safe to eat and which aren't, and go out every autumn to pick and preserve.

Mushrooms are preserved in brine rather than vinegar, and often with a variety of other things such as lemongrass. Similarly cucumbers grown as gherkins are again preserved in apple vinegar or salted water. Beetroot is salted, diced and mixed with salted potatoes and beans. All quite delicious if you are into pickled and salted dishes. Cabbage is preserved similarly to German sauerkraut although other cabbage options are available (not to my taste!). They refer to the standard cultivated white mushrooms by the French word champignon.

Up to a third of Moscow's population have some form of country plot or house ranging from something similar to our allotments right up to 4 and 5 storey mansions and beyond!

Most vegetables, fruit, ,milk. meat etc come from much further away from such as Estonia and more southerly former Soviet states such as Georgia, Ukraine and so on.