Over the last few years I've found an increasing enthusiasm for preserving, partly down to my thrifty nature but also as I think homemade gifts are the best.
As Autumn brings a natural glut of produce perfect for conserving, preserving and pickling (try to say that after a few pints!) now is the time to get involved.
When I read Vanessa's post 'Let's make Christmas' on her lovely blog it rang true on lots of levels. What better that to make homemade treats for friends and loved ones this Christmas and at the same time save some money and street clear of unwanted gift giving. I'm really looking forward to Vanessa's round up of all the best 'Let's make Christmas' blog posts as new ideas and inspiration are always welcome along with discovering new like minded blogger friends.
So far this year I have made elderflower cordial, runner bean pickle, raspberry vinegar and slow gin amongst others, but really wanted to share this beetroot relish recipe as it's so tasty, easy to make and the perfect accompaniment to a Christmas cheeseboard. Its also really economical - I made twelve jars (two batches of the below recipe) and the beetroot cost about £1.50!
Roast beetroot, chilli & balsamic relish
Makes 6 jars
Large roasting tin and large pan
For the tomato & chilli sauce:
1kg fresh tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 whole dried red chillies
2 fresh bay leaves
2 whole sprigs of fresh rosemary & thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp of red wine
Salt & pepper to taste
For the beetroot relish:
1kg fresh beetroot
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
50g dark brown sugar
100g caster sugar
100ml balsamic vinegar
50ml red wine vinegar
Firstly make the tomato and chilli sauce. Place the garlic and olive oil into a large pan and cook on a low heat for a few minutes before adding all the other ingredients. Cook for a further 30 minutes on a low heat until the tomatoes have broken down into the sauce. Leave to cool a little before passing the sauce through a sieve to remove the fresh herbs and chillies along with the skins and seeds of the tomatoes, you will be left with about 250ml of tomato puree. Season well to taste. If you want an extra hit of chilli place a little of the sauce in a blender with the two chillies and blend until smooth before adding this back into the tomato sauce.
Meanwhile wash and trim the beetroot of any stalks or roots before wrapping each individual beetroot in foil and placing them in a large baking tray. Cook in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the beetroot are cooked through, test this with a small sharp knife. Once cooked leave to cool a little before unwrapping and then peeling the beetroot, the skins should just slide off easily if you rub them. Coarsely grate the beetroot into a bowl, a food processor makes quick work of this. Wear gloves for this bit if you don't want to stain your hands purple!
To make the relish place the olive oil and red onion in a large pan and cook on a low heat for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the sugars and vinegars and bring to the boil before turning down the heat and adding the grated beetroot and tomato sauce. Cook for a further 10 minutes or until the relish had reduced to a thick consistency. Place the relish in sterilised jars with vinegar proof lids and use within one year, once open keep in the fridge. To sterilise jars simply wash in hot soapy water, rinse and leave to drain before placing on a baking tray in a cool oven for 10-15 minutes until dry.
This recipe is based on the roasted sweet beet relish recipe from River Cottage Handbook No. 2 - Preserves by Pam Corbin