Monday, 30 August 2010

Bring on Autumn!

I'm writing this in the evening of 30th August so I think it's fair to say that I can mention the 'A' word in polite company. As has been previously discussed on here, I always enjoy Autumn, (although come to think of it, the only time of year I don't like is the dead, grey cold of January and February) but this year, I'm looking forward to it more than ever.

A visit to the allotment brought home to me how I've managed to unwittingly plant crops that come to fruition fairly late in the year. Since the broad beans finished I've been existing on a diet of rainbow chard and courgettes from the allotment but waiting in the wings for their Autumn colours are are the eagerly awaited crown jewels of the plot. The recent rain has been a massive boost, quietly fattening the sweetcorn and borlotti beans as well as pushing the cavolo nero skyward so we're teetering on the edge of a full blown Autumnal glut - I can barely contain myself!

We cut our first pumpkins today, the biggest was 6 kilos, which has given the kitchen a pleasing harvest festival vibe. There are another half dozen monsters waiting on the plot so if anyone has any pumpkin storing tips, I'd be pleased to hear them.

The runner beans are also experiencing a renaissance. I read Alys Fowler in The Guardian on Saturday with interest, it makes sense that the reason they didn't set earlier in the summer was the hot weather we had. They're obviously loving the cooler, wetter weather and are beginning to drip with beans which is a mixed blessing, their newly verdant leaves are a sight to behold but how the hell did I manage to forget they taste so vile? Even Adam, aka the human dustbin, refused to eat them today. I had been planning on cosseting them through to a second season as Alys suggests but I don't think I'll bother ....


  1. I take it you are talking about the runner beans. There is a runner bean chutney recipe that makes use of gluts or when you don't know what to do with them. It's my partner's favourite - it is a strong-dark chutney - one that the menfolk in my family seemed to like. Let me know if you want the recipe.

    Nice to see you back



  2. Sounds interesting - would you mind posting it? I noticed in the Alys article that other countries don't eat the pods, just the beans inside, so I may try that approach too.

  3. Surely with your Pumpkin you must make a Pumpkin Pie?! Oh and Soup, nothing says Autumn like thick, creamy, Pumpkin Soup and Crust Bread. :)

  4. I've never made pumpkin pie, I may have a go. I think I vaguely remember seeing a recipe somewhere that involved roasting the seeds and serving them alongside the roasted pumpkin flesh, that sounds nice too.

  5. Two lovely pumpkins and the orangey/yellowy things aren't bad either.

  6. To store the pumpkins whole, just make sure they are dry, have good air circulation and are in a dry cool place eg the shed but on an old pallet or something. alternatively oven roast and freeze the results to add to all sorts of dishes later in the year.
    I love runner beans and this has ended up being a great year for them. Pick them young, keep picking and I always string even stringless beans. I like them steamed to keep their own flavour and not overcooked or alternatively make a ratatouille type dish with them - most things in life perk up once smothered in tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs.

  7. Thank you for calling the children pumpkins! Xanthe's into doing silly poses for the camera at the moment.

    Grethic - do you find storing them whole reliable? I've done a bit of Googling and found lots of advice on preventing them rotting (long stalk vs short stalk etc) which kind of suggests they're prone to rotting! But I would prefer to store them whole if possible.

  8. I'm re-posting this fb comment here to see if anyone has any ideas to share:
    Carol wrote
    "We can't believe you don't like runner beans...our favourites, as long as I use a proper bean slicer to make them into thin slices. My problem with them is that they don't freeze well, mine always end up watery and a horrible texture after freezing which is a shame as we've tons of them at the moment. If anyone has any answers to the freezing problem I'd appreciated some help."

  9. Will ferret the Runner Bean Chutney recipe out for you and post later.

    Just a note but my mum has of late been freezing runner beans without blanching them (blanching is what makes them keep but can be overdone which makes them go water). All she does is pour a kettle of boiling water over them, then straight into cold water then drains and sometimes dries off with a tea towel. then when dry she pops them into freezer bags and freezes them. This is only for short term storage though. We eat a lot of veggies so get through them quite quickly done this way. The beans we have had from her done this way are sweet and full of flavour. (Mum grows runner beans in pots)Lakeland were selling old fashioned bean slicers earlier on I don't know whether they still have them i.e. the square with the blades in. I have been processing leeks this way and I just take a few out and you can add to stir fries etc from frozen. They taste very good.

    On the pumpkins I bought one last year late October and I still had it come February. As long as they are kept somewhere darkish and cold they will keep extremely well. However you do need to check them regularly as once they decide to go its very quick. Marrows and Squash can also be kept the same way. I cut pumpkin into pieces dip in hot boiling water and straight out and then drain. I then drag out and roast it like you would roast potatoes. It doesn't take long and is very tasty. You can take the skin off or leave it on. It is edible it is all a matter of choice. I also have a recipe for Spiced Pumpkin butter - haven't tried it but it looks interesting. Sweet potato done this way is also very good.

    Hope this helps



  10. Hi ya all...thanks for the suggestions on freezing runner beans. I've recently tried a similar method and will let you know the results. Also, will try the salting method that Tracey has suggested.

    Regarding pumpkins, I spotted the following recipe in a magazine, sounds absolutely scrumptiuos, and oh so easy, I only wish I could post the piccy too, makes you're mouth water just looking at it would be good on Halloween or bonfire night!

    (serves 4)

    600g (1lb5oz) pumpkin flesh roughly chopped
    2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
    1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
    1tsp ground cumin
    1tsp ground coriander
    800ml (1pint 7 fl oz) vegetable stock
    200 ml (7fl oz) coconut milk
    1tbsp pumpkin seeds

    1.Put the pumpkin flesh into a food processor and whiz for 30 sec until almost smooth
    2.Add the celery, garlic and spices and whiz again for 30 sec. Empty into a large pan.
    3.Pour over stock and coconut milk, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15mins.
    4.Remove from heat and blend until smooth – do this in batches if necessary. Check the seasoning and ladle into warmed soup bowls.
    5.Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and freshly group black pepper, and crusty bread.

  11. I pick, cut and freeze my beans straight away...i find this stops them being mushy....I also love runner bean chutney and use those that have got a little too big for my liking in this recipe.

    Pumpkins look great...mine are very green and small!!

    Tracey could you check out my latest post...i think you might be able to help...thanks!!

  12. I freeze runner beans sliced and just as they are,if consumed within 3 months they are fine.I can't understand anyone disliking them !! We look forward to them every year,but dont use any that the knife does'nt slice very easily.