Our winter share is over. I am both relieved and saddened by this fact. Relieved: I might actually be able to make a dent in the drawer-full of sunchokes, beets, parsnips, and rutabagas we have leftover. Saddened: I have to figure out which vegetables to buy between now and early July when the summer/fall share kicks in. It’s exciting, I’ll admit. But a little intimidating. And more expensive. When I get to choose my own veggies, I tend to get a little excited and buy everything I like, knowing full well I will not be able to eat them in a timely manner. So, this year, I will experiment with buying only enough to supplement my current 50 million pound stock of root vegetables. (Ok, more like 20-pound stock, but still.)
In any case, this is the time of year when I get to actually think about how to use these root vegetables. And how to pair them with fresher, lighter, spring vegetables (perhaps making the starchy, heavy roots more bearable). As you may know, I’ve been dabbling around with beets for a while now. Lat year, I was really into this beet cake that was pink, gooey, and earthily sweet. I have quick-pickled them and left them in the fridge. I’ve added them to raita to accompany my peanut curry. And I’ve plain ol’ roasted them for salads and sandwiches. I’ve also contemplated adding them to juices with carrots and grapefruit, which still may happen.
But my most recent experiment actually took place in February: Beet-Orange-Spice Chutney. Why did it take me one month to sit down and write about it? Because the recipe says the jars need to sit for one month before the flavors are ready. So I waited to make sure it tasted as amazing as it smelled before writing. On Saturday night, with mom in town and friends and family over for dinner, I finally took the plunge and opened the jar. What I discovered inside was nothing short of a miracle. Alas, here I am with a recipe, some comments, and one very pretty photo.
Spring around here is absolutely lovely, as you can tell. The two most recently created jars of beet chutney are accompanied by a vase full of $9 worth of tulips and daffodils grown less than 60 miles from my house. Not to mention the fact that they are exploding like crazy right now. Ahhhh, the colors.
I digress, though. This chutney was my first attempt at real canning (success!) and using up some beets. I still have about 8 pounds of them, and I have other experiments on the way. Just need more jars. The thing I love most about this recipe is the lightness. I associate sweet, lovely, earthy beets with winter. Heavy, dark, cold winter. But this chutney takes advantage of some of the sweetest and lightest of winter’s gems: beets and oranges, throws in some onions and apples (easy to find local here in the winter, but maybe not elsewhere), and a handful of herbs and spices. Your home will smell incredible while this cooks. But more importantly, when you finally get to eat it, one month later, you will not be sorry you had to wait. The chutney just brightens everything with it’s fresh, light, and sweet flavors. I found it paired extremely well with softer, stinkier cheeses (camembert being my favorite). It is also recommended with porkchops. I can’t really say much about that since I’ve never eaten a pork chop. But you are more than welcome to experiment. At the very least, this is just a bright ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary season. I made a second batch on Monday (as seen in the photo) and may not be sharing this with anyone. Enjoy!
Beet Orange Spice Chutney, adapted from Dirty Kitchen SecretsIngredients 2.2 lbs raw beetroot/beets 250g demerra sugar or light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 oranges- zested and juiced
280ml red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves- minced
2 medium onions- diced
3 apples- diced 1. Roast the beets in a 400F oven for 60-80 minutes. To roast, trim beet greens to just above root, and wrap beets in aluminum foil either individually or cover with foil in a dish. 2. While the beets are cooking you can prep the remaining ingredients. It took me about 40 minutes to do this. You can follow it up by sterilizing the jars. (I’m not going to teach you how to do this, but this is supposed to be the site to go to for information on home canning. Maybe after my upcoming home canning class I can give you more info!) 3. When the beets are done roasting and have cooled a bit, peel off the skin and discard. Dice the beets into small bite size pieces. 4. Meanwhile, add all the ingredients, except the beets, in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add the beets and return to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 45 minutes or until the mixture thickens (for me this is about 60-70 minutes–my apples have been extra juicy). 5. Fill the jars with chutney and seal well. Complete the canning process (boiling the filled jars and letting cool). Store in a cool, dark place. Wait about one month to eat. Hard to do when it smells so good. But most definitely worth the wait!!!!!