Brilliant beetroot: Freshly harvested from home veggie plot

IT’S a melancholy moment when you gather the last harvest of the year from the garden.

It is the very end of the beetroot season and I have cleared my raised beds to make way for lettuce. Lifted and leaves cut off, beetroot is easy to prepare.

Once it’s washed and trimmed, I store some in the fridge for later use, but most has been plunged into a big pot of water and cooked until tender. Once it’s cool, I wear gloves to rub off the skins and cut into large dice. Sometimes I mix it with a mustard or horseradish mayonnaise to make a kind of remoulade. Delicious with cold meats or a raised pie.

Today I am placing the cubed beetroot into jars and topping with spiced malt vinegar. As the vinegar takes on the vivid colour of the beetroot, the jars are as if filled with deep pink jewels. I’m already looking forward to Christmas!

Those left in the fridge will keep well and are good used in various ways. Beetroot is amazing when stir-fried. Peel and grate, heat butter in a frying pan and let it turn nut- brown, fire in the beetroot and quickly stir-fry. Add some lemon juice and black pepper and serve with fish or pork. This is also good stir-fried with grated apple when you are serving pork.

Instead of cooking the grated beetroot you can also use it in salads. As long as you combine it with any other ingredients at the last minute it won’t bleed into everything. I often roast beetroot, cut into wedges and tossed in rapeseed oil. It is delicious served with crumbled goats’ cheese on the top.

The colour of beetroot can work in marvellous ways, particularly in a chocolate cake or a brownie mixture. Use it just like carrots in a carrot cake.

Most Read

There are combinations which are perfect: try apple combined with beetroot in a soup or salad. With smoked fish, such as mackerel, beetroot is perfect.

Paralympian David (the Werewolf) Weir spoke highly of the power of this impressive vegetable. He praised beetroot juice and said he drank it every day. According to recent scientific research, the nitrates found in beetroot can lower blood-pressure and increase stamina.

It really is one of those so-called super-foods. Beetroot is a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, and those red pigments are important for cardiovascular health.

With our late autumn this year, there is still a chance to pick up some beetroot and have a go at my pickled beetroot recipe, or try it your own way. Just wear gloves, but not your best white shirt.