Last weekend's Isle of Wight trip was very fruitful in terms of preserves - not that Chez Knit Nurse is short of homemade preserves, you understand, but I always like to try out the opposition just to make sure that I'm not missing a trick.
Not having a food processor, I've always shied away from making beetroot preserves because of the fag of having to grate the beetroot by hand. Luckily one of the stall holders at Ventnor's antiques-cum-bric-a-brac-cum-country-market event had done the hard work for me with his beetroot chutney. I've just sampled it and can confirm it's delicious. I'm confident I'll be through that jar in no time. Another version I particularly like is beetroot and horseradish chutney which a friend often brings me from a stall in Otley farmer's market in Yorkshire.
One of our walks also took in the famous Isle of Wight Garlic Farm, where the shop is a fabulous place to browse and try out about two dozen different chutneys and pickles. Just don't go at the end of the day, when the box of crackers that is provided to nibble with the chutneys is reduced to a box of crumbs!
The jar above is what I chose from all the many different and fabulously tasty options on offer (not the banana one though, that was decidedly offensive to my taste buds). In the interests of research I have just cracked it open and tasted one of the whole garlic cloves, just to remind myself what it tastes like. And then I had another. And then I had to come back to the computer to stop myself scoffing the whole damn lot in one go.
Garlicky yes, but also a little bit spicy, sweet from the sugar, and strangely almost minty when you bite into the cloves. And very, very moreish.
Ingredients: Garlic (43%!), white sugar, white wine vinegar, curry powder, black peppercorns.
According to the River Cottage Handbook no 2: Preserves by Pam Corbin, which a very kind friend just gave me for a late birthday present, pickled garlic is very easy to make but it's important to get the new season's bulbs, which are sweeter and better for pickling.
There will be more from this book over the coming months as I make my way through it. If you are into any form of preserving (except perhaps taxidermy) it is thoroughly recommended, not just for common sense advice and easy-to-follow recipes, but also for some great inspiration. Elixir of sage or nasturtium capers, anyone?
And finally, in case you were wondering, the boots enjoyed their break too. I love this photo, makes me feel calm and relaxed - although Gaz says it's a bit too Reggie Perrin for him!