Monday 30 May 2016

Rhubarb Chutney

Time for something new, not tried this recipe before, but with quite a lot of rhubarb to get through, it seems like a good idea! 

In Yorkshire, an area between Leeds and Wakefield is known as the "Rhubarb Triangle"
The rhubarb in the allotment was originally a root cut off one winter from some from my mum's plant, which is from the same type of soil just outside the designated EU area - that being said there was a forcing shed near their house. 

Anyway, what you will need to make approximately 2-3 jars of chutney is:

1kg rhubarb, washed, peeled and diced. 
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into small pieces
Pickling spice (usually obtainable in small jars from the supermarket where all the other jars of herbs and spices are)
200ml pickling vinegar
400g sugar
1 small lemon (I used two really small ones from the Meyer lemon tree we have)
1 small piece of ginger root, peeled and chopped up small. (if you want to have a bit of fizz on your tongue, try a small piece of raw ginger!)
First step is to wash, peel and chop up the rhubarb, sometimes you can just peel it straight off with your fingers, but sometimes you can - pointing away from you - pare the skin off as if you were whittling a piece of wood. Dice up and place in a large saucepan. De-seed and chop up the lemon roughly. 
Then peel and chop up the onion and add to the pan. (note I actually made two 500g batches of chutney, one with onion and one without)


Peel and chop up the ginger and weigh out the sugar, and measure out the vinegar. Note that I have used a mixture of dark brown and white sugar but all it does is vary the colour of the chutney.


Add all the ingredients to the pan, and then boil up and simmer until everything goes mushy. Then, using a potato masher, mash up all the mixture and then boil up until the vinegar has reduced and the chutney is rather sticky and clingy. 

Then spoon into sterilized jars - it's easier using a funnel on top of the jar, seal and allow to cool before labelling up.

Sunday 22 May 2016

Spring Blossom

It's been a late start this year, not least because of the late April snow! But now, although the weather isn't too brilliant, everything's catching up and there's plenty to do.

But first, it is such a joy to see the blossom on the fruit trees, and such a challenge to protect it from late frosts like we had at the end of April/start of May! We keep a number of clear plastic sheets and bags at the allotment which can cover up the minarette fruit trees, the strawberries and the grape vine in the event that a frost is forecast.

This is the blossom on the Falstaff apple tree that is trained against the rear fence of the allotment.

The following link shows the apples that come from it, along with ones from the Chivers Delight and Gala.

This is a close up of a blossom flower on the Chivers Delight apple tree. We try to keep the trees around 6ft tall, although the damson seems to have decided it wants to be a grown up damson tree rather than a minarette but we keep it under control!

This is a close up of a blueberry blossom. We have three blueberries and after a slow couple of years after which we changed compost (ericaceous) and now all three bushes have loads of blossom and we hope for more than the single jar of jam this year!

Now planted in the allotment are peas, sweetcorn, cabbages, a couple of courgettes, onions, parsnips and potatoes. Still being eaten from last season's crops are the last of the purple sprouting broccoli, leeks and new season asparagus.

Close up of a purple sprouting broccoli head. This needs to be picked, any later and it will go into flower heads and then beautiful yellow flowers which actually provide a useful source for bees, butterflies and other insects early on before other flowers are available.

The difficulty every year with the sprouting broccoli is that it is in what becomes the following year's potato patch (we have four rotating beds), and in general it is a struggle to find space for all the potatoes until the broccoli has finished! In fact, this year all the potatoes are in and the purple broccoli has only just finished in late May!