Monday, July 26, 2010

Irish al-Maġrib Beetroot Pickle المغرب‎

I spoke before about using an oven to prepare beetroot before pickling, and its certainly still the main method I'd recommend.

But I was sitting there peeling good, tennis ball sized beetroot, beside a warm Morsø turf and wood fire. I figured, why waste electricity starting up the oven when I had a very good heat source anyway. It was just a quick idea, and I liked doing this for a few reasons.

Using the latent heat in the stove maximises the potential of a great stove (even though this one is not designed for cooking) and I don't waste electricity using the oven for what is a relatively small load.
Its easier and less wasteful to peel beetroot after boiling.
This blog is about a small Connemara kitchen garden, so I think its fitting that I should cook at least one thing over a turf fire.
Before the Morsø we used to have a Stanley Number 8 range on which my Grandmother would cook, and fresh soda bread from the oven.

I have an older cousin who still bakes bread in a turf fired range, and I think hers is the best soda bread in the world.

They say you learn something new everyday - well here's one, when the beets are cooked they float to the surface when boiled in lightly salted water! When you think about it that means you can throw in different sizes, and just pick them off when they are done - no stabbing/jabbing guessing.

I also know that in Holland, because of the time and energy it takes to cook beetroot that it was, in Zealand at least, a social, communal thing.
Farmers families would bring beetroot to one place, and use one big pot, then take away their portion of the cooked beets.

I like this idea, the only place I have seen it is in communal bakeries in Morocco and communal tandoori ovens in India.
When you consider the trouble we go to over family barbeque's, I think it shows what a fundamental human thing it is to gather communally around food.

In Morocco, wife's and mothers make dough in the morning and bring it to the communal bakery.
For a dirham or two the local baker bungs it in the oven and cooks the loaves.

While waiting, the customers sit around, drink tea, listen to the radio and chat. Its a very social, daily occasion where news and views are exchanged.
As a visitor I was welcome, if not something of an oddity.
It's quite unique, sitting there drinking tea with the smell of baking bread, orange groves and the desert permeating the seaside air, trying to converse (badly) in French and a smattering of Berber early in the morning while waiting for the surf to get better.

I did not take pictures that day, as that far south in Morocco, I feel it may have been improper, but the memories are still as fresh as ever.

In Morocco they pickle Lemons and Carrots.
Their carrot pickle uses a cider vinegar - so I may do that later in the year when my carrots start rooting up. I got two heritage types from the real seed company (link in right hand panel) Jaune Obtuse de Doubs- a yellow type, and Long Lise de Meax - a blunt orange type thats a good keeper for the winter.

Most of the beets I cooked in this batch will go into my own Malt and Mustard Pickle, but I have reserved enough for two jars of a Moroccan style pickle based on their carrot pickle recipe.

Herb and Spice mix - note Sea Salt

Connemara Beetroot Pickle mix a la Moroccan

3 small (pickling) onions
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 red chili's, halved, keep the seeds if you like pickles a little hotter.
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Peel of 1 lemon, cut into strips
1-1/2 cups water
1-1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 Bay leaves
2 sprigs fennel
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, cracked
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, cracked.
1 teaspoon cardamom pods, cracked
1 teaspoon Black Pepper corns

Reserve the chili, fennel sprigs and lemon, those go in the jar raw with the cooked beets
Make the pickle mix.
Sterilise jars, layer beetroot into the jars with fennel, lemon peel, chili and garlic

Pour mix into jars, use a spoon to add bits of seeds etc. and place in pickling bath (again, see the malt and mustard posting)

I also srinkled about half a teaspoon of dried coriander leaf into each jar before sealing.

Store for three weeks before eating, should keep about 6 months

One thing I found was taking clingfilm, hold over the jar mouth. Slowly lower the sheet (peel/sterile side down) over the jar mouth, because of the heat of the jar, the clingfilm will close in on the grooves.
Put lid on, leave cool. The food safety nipple should, when the jar cools, should depress to the 'safe' position.
Malt and Mustard on left, Maroc Style on right

Next pickle plans I'm looking forward to are my gherkins growing a little bit more to do a Dill pickle, and the silver skin pickling onions, the seed came from France for those.

I'm looking to when Khrystyna from Food, Flora and felines puts up a Hebrew Pickled Turnip recipe, I would like to have a crack at that - although I have found Lebanese and Indian versions online.

بالهناء والشفاء / بالهنا والشفا
(bil-hanā' wa ash-shifā')

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  1. Oh oh I LOVE pickled beetroot so much! I was actually eating some out of a jar about half and hour ago lol! Lucky you having such a good crop, mine are still only seedlings at this stage so not going to have any for ages :( Actually pickled carrot is something I've been meaning to try for a long time, I got emailed a recipe last year I'll see if I still have it somewhere for you. Oh and you know you were sying you're jealous of my kilners? Well I'm jealous of your range! ;)
    Are you on twitter? I just joined under foodflorafeline, it's really cool actually lots of interesting info there.

  2. Oh and meant to say I buy salted preserved lemons from the English market here in Cork for my moroccan dish's and they are so wonderful and different. Pity it's so tricky to grow citrus fruits well here really and I can't bring myself to buy fruit to preserve lol!


Thanks for commenting - its cool that you took the time