Managing the volume of produce on your allotment can be a tricky balancing act. Sometimes we over-anticipate how much a crop will produce, and sometimes we massively underestimate! If you're a victim of the over-producing plot this year, fear not! There are some wonderful ways to use up a glut of fruit or veg, from freezing and preserving to making delicious recipes (including how to disguise all those courgettes that you loved and fussed over to start with but after eating them for dinner every day for 10 weeks... you're totally sick of the sight of by now!)
I've organised this blog into categories which you may find useful at this time of year, based on what's cropping in July / August.
Not another courgette!
It's true - my biggest rookie mistake last year was planting 5 courgette plants, and all of the same variety. By the end of June We were picking at least 5 per day and things were getting out.of.control. I mean I was literally having nightmares about eating yet another courgette. We had to give many of them away (to grateful recipients, I must say!) but by the end of the summer we couldn't bring ourselves to force them upon anyone else!
This year, we've planted just the one plant, a different variety to the plain green courgette we went for Summer Ball. As the name suggests, it produces vibrant yellow, spherical courgettes which are just SO pretty. I feel like I couldn't possible get bored of eating them!
But just in case... here is a round up of my go-to courgette glut recipes:
Courgettes and tomatoes au gratain (Delia Smith)
Courgette Fritters (Nigel Slater)
Stuffed Courgette Flowers (BBC Good Food)
Rhubarb crumble. That's about all I made with Rhubarb for the first season of owning my allotment. I don't think I am the only one to be a little scared of this super-sour vegetable. I mean, what on earth can you make with it except crumble?! Well, I did some research, and one of my most enjoyable recipes is Rhubarb Gin, yes - GIN! It tastes fabulous, and makes an ideal gift for friends and relatives. Along with gin, I've also made rhubarb and custard muffins, rhubarb and orgnage meringue (thanks, Delia!) and this stunning recipe for Rhubarb Almond Cake, which tastes as good as it looks.
Can't beat a beetroot or 500!
I guess I'm lucky. I'm one of those people who loves beetroot in every form, and cant get enough. However, that also proves to be a problem because I plant so many in anticipation of my desires, that I end up with far too many and not much space on the plot for much else. I usually don't struggle to use up my beets, but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve for the best ways to use them fresh, and preserve them for later use.
Roasted Beetroot & root veg - Chop up your veg (carrots, potato, parsnip) nice and chunky and roast on a big tray at 180 fan for about 30-35 mins. To avoid the beetroot staining the other vegetables, I roast mine whole wrapped in foil on the shelf below the veg, then chop them into chunks and add to the tray at the last minute before serving. (You may need to roast your beets for longer if they are quite big, I try to pick then they're about the size of a lime as they're super sweet and juicy.)
More often than not I simply boil the beets, leave them to cool then peel and store in an air tight container. I like to take them to work to add to my lunchtime salad bowl.
Beetroot and feta cheese are literally BEST FRIENDS. I absolutely love this combination of salty cheese and sweet, earthy beetroot. This is one of my favourite things to make with both these ingredients: Beetroot, Feta & Thyme Tart.
BUT, by far the easiest recipe I use is my cheat's pickled beets. You can use this recipe to preserve most root vegetables, but beetroot just look so pretty and to me, they also taste the best (except gherkins!! they also taste amazing in this recipe). If you make your pickles in a pretty, airtight jar, you can give them away as presents.
The radish resistance.
I grew a tonne of radishes this year as companion plants for my parsnips to keep the dreaded carrot fly at bay. The good news is it seems to have worked, but the bad news is that I now have loads and loads of radishes to use. A lot of them will stay put to serve their purpose, but there are some which are still young and tasty enough to eat. I'll be using my cheat's pickled beets recipe for pickled radishes, the only difference being that you don't have to boil the radishes before hand, just slice them finely and add them straight to the vinegar concoction. It couldn't be easier!
Even though the tops of the radishes are a little prickly, when they are young they can be harvested and used as you would spinach. They are a tasty addition to a baby leaf salad, or even wilted down with a little butter and garlic. I've also seen you can use them to make a killer saag recipe to go with your favourite curry!
One of the simplest and arguable most enjoyable ways to eat radishes, is a radisn sandwich. I always go for brown bread, a thin layer of butter, a little mayo and sliced radishes. I finish with a little black pepper. YUM! Dont knock it 'til you've tried it - the combination of soft, savoury and crunchy is heavenly.
I hope these recipes get you through even the most persistent of gluts!
P.S. Click HERE to read my cheat's pickled beets recipe!