Archive for August, 2013

Chocolate peppers getting bigger

Number two chocolate pepper is bigger and its unripe brother is definitely bigger still … at this rate, from five plants we hope to have a bumper crop!chocolate pepper

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First pepper

It’s tiny but it’s definitely a chocolate pepper!

chocolate pepper

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Flowers from Hampton Court

I haven’t blogged even a quarter of the photos from the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show so here’s some Monday beauty for you. Enjoy!

begonia 2

begonia 1

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Onions and garlic and how to store them

onions beforeIf you’ve grown summer onions, they will be juicy and sweet and they really won’t keep for long. If you’ve grown onions to keep over the winter, then they’ll have less juice and they will keep through the winter, if you give them proper treatment. Garlic is like storing onions, only more so!

onions dryingFirst – let them cure. If you harvest as the tops bend over, they need between two and four weeks to cure (the necks become dry and thin, the outer layers become paper thin, the roots desiccate completely) in an airy place – not too hot and definitely not in direct sun which steals the subtler flavours. Airy is vital: moisture is the enemy of onion and garlic while it’s curing.

garlic beforeSecond – only when the roots are completely desiccated, and the skins have become papery, do you clear away the outer layers, particularly if they are muddy or damaged, until you reach a complete, dry layer. Then trim back the roots with so they are as short as possible and finally brush the roots with a soft brush – a soft old toothbrush is ideal, to remove any lurking grit, mud or other nasties that could harbour bacteria that will lead to rot.

You might string your onions – there’s a great description here. We don’t, we store them in wooden trays.

For garlic, if you want to, you can string them too. Repeat the process as for onions and if the necks are still soft and you don’t have evidence of rust, plait the garlic together. We’ve got rust this year and I prefer not to plait as my experience is that there’s a higher change of garlic getting rot if it’s plaited with rust on the necks. Instead I shorten the necks back and make a hole about two inches down with a large darning needle carrying a thick cotton thread. Then I knot the thread by the neck, move on a couple of inches and thread on another garlic. You end up with something more like a horticultural garland but as the heads don’t touch and have excellent air circulation, they seem to keep better.

onions and garlicYou can just cut cured (no longer soft/moist or bendy) necks off completely and store your garlic in a cotton bag, a wooden drawer etc. It’s a choice – some like one thing, some another. While storage methods are personal, cleaning your cured onions and garlic is vital to keep them in good condition for as long as possible – and it’s very satisfying!

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Progress and harvest

Thornless blackberries

Thornless blackberries

Butternut squashes - very prolific this year

Butternut squashes – very prolific this year

Soldier beans almost ready to harvest

Soldier beans almost ready to harvest

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Allotment fruit recipe – gluten free blackcurrant clafoutis

First of all, I apologise for the delay in posting the recipe – we’ve had quite a few more gluts to deal with and I just haven’t had time to do anything other that water the plot and harvest and process all the courgettes, kohlrabi, cabbages, cauliflowers, broad beans, tayberries, raspberries and blackcurrants that we’ve been coming home with.

So, the recipe!

Ingredients

• 400 grams currants, washed and strung
• 4 eggs
• 200 grams full cream milk
• 125 grams caster sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 80 grams ground almonds
• 30 grams cornflour

Method

Heat oven to 180 Celsius.

Using a large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly and when they are light and blended, pour in the milk in a slow stream, still whisking, then the sugar in a similar fashion, the vanilla, ground almonds and cornflour.

Grease a 22 to 25 cm cake pan, pie dish or quiche dish. Tip the dried currants into the base and spread out. Pour the batter over the top.

Cook, uncovered for 25-30 minutes and then sprinkle with sugar while still warm.

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Gluten-free blackcurrant clafoutis

blackcurrant clafoutis gluten freeHere it is!

After some experimenting I actually think this is better than the standard wheat-based recipe. I’ll post the recipe itself later today!

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