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Dark days, Jerusalem artichokes and beetroot

Working outside when the skies are grey and the wind is blowing can be a real tonic.  The last few weeks I am back into the gentle pattern of spending my weekends on the allotment, and it feels like a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders.

Although the mild wet winter has meant I am a bit behind with digging, and preparing beds for this year’s crops, I’m not too worried.  Now my hands are in the earth, and I have mud on my boots, I can start to make sense of what I want to do.

I also have some wonderful things ready to harvest at the moment, including beetroot, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, chard, purple sprouting broccoli, and some forgotten potatoes.

Through these dark days of winter it is wonderful feeling to find fresh flavours, and richly coloured foods growing on the plot.  I enjoyed cooking the following recipes over the past few weeks, and I am keen to share.

Winter Harvest

Late summer I was given a bag of Jerusalem artichoke tubers.  They were thrust into my hand – ‘I don’t want these, once you plant them, you can never get rid of them…plus they make you fart!’.  Well I’m not really one to turn down free allotment produce (unless its parsnips), so I was more than happy to accept this gift.  I planted three tubers in the fruit bed, alongside the globe artichokes.  As I do not rotate the fruit bed, their location will be as permanent as I am on this plot!

As I mentioned, I hadn’t been to the allotment for a few months, and was feeling pretty disheartened with the poor results of 2015’s growing season, so when I remembered there were still edibles on the plot it perked me right up again!

Jerusalem artichokes with miso butter

  • 600 g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 2 garlic loves, peeled and halved
  • olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white miso (I bought mine from M&S)
  • 2 tbsp very soft butter or coconut oil
  • 2 tsp black or white sesame seeds

To cook

Peel and chop the artichokes, and place in bowl of water with half squeeze lemon – this will stop them tuning black.  Heat the oil and add the artichokes, and garlic. Fry the artichokes and garlic gently for a minute, then cover and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Give the pan a little shake once or twice. When the artichokes are tender, but still firm – they can quickly turn to mush, take the lid off and turn up the heat so they can brown.  Mix the miso with the melted butter or coconut oil, and add to the artichokes and garlic.  Shake the pan again and season.  Just before serving sprinkle the over the sesame seeds.  This recipe works well if you wish to half it.

This recipe was from Olive Magazine.

Beetroot and caraway seed cake

I’ve been rather slow picking the beetroot this year, so I still have 5-6 plants in the ground.  I thought they would be too earthy to bake in a cake, but it turns out they are still edible.

This recipe for Beetroot and caraway seed loaf cake, is from the magazine The Simple Things.  I adapted the recipe slightly, by reducing some of the ingredients.  I used 125g sugar, and 125g butter.  I always try to reduce the sugar in cakes, and this time I thought I would see what happened when I reduced the amount of butter, as the recipe called for ground almonds, which have a natural oil content.  I also reduced the amount of caraway seed to 1 tsp, caraway is quite a strong taste, and the first time I made this, I felt it was a little much.  I roasted the beetroot, as I thought this might make it sweeter, I then pureed it in a blender, to make the mixture more pink, although my cake was not as pink as the one in the recipe – I need to puree a little more next time!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I have. Jo-Ann x

Follow the links in the text above for the original recipes



  1. Good post and pictures. I grew Jerusalem artichokes for the flowers for a few years before digging them up. Last year wasn’t the easiest of years for allotment growing so let’s hope we all have a better one this year. xx

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