If everything has gone to plan – you’ll be reaping your beautiful veg garden harvest right now. If you've got too much to know what to do with, here are Alice Whitehead's tips to help you bust a glut.
It’s been a brilliant year for tomatoes. And it doesn’t seem to matter when you plant them – they always seem to ripen all at once. Time to blitz them into a Bloody Mary!
I’ll slice 8-10 tomatoes (or more if they are cherry types) and pop them into a large pan. To this, I’ll add 2tbsp of vinegar, a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce and a squirt of Tabasco.
Fresh herbs are lovely too – at this time of year, this can be the last of the basil, coriander, oregano or marjoram. I’ll season with salt and black pepper and bring to the boil – reducing to a simmer for 15 minutes until everything is nice and soft. The last step is to blend and chill in the fridge. When I’m ready to use it, I’ll mix 500ml with 100ml vodka over ice.
There’s only so many apple crumbles one person can eat (though my son might disagree!).
Although they freeze really well and can be pureed, I also like to preserve them as apple rings. These store well in jars and can be added to lunchboxes as a snack. They also look pretty as cake decorations.
Core and slice them and spray with a little lemon juice to stop them browning. I string them up on a line in a warm, dry room – in the sun – for three to five days. But you can also pop them in the oven on the lowest temperature for six hours. They’re lovely dusted with cinnamon.
Pickling is my go-to for cucumbers and courgettes. But this recipe should probably include marrows too because it’s so easy to find a forgotten courgette that has turned into a monster.
To pickle, I soak my courgette slices in salted water for an hour. Then I make a pickling brine from vinegar. Simply boil it up in a pan with celery seeds, mustard powder, turmeric and chilli. Season with salt and pepper, and a pinch or two of sugar.
I’ll leave it to cool while I drain, dry and pack my thinly sliced veg into sterilised jars. Pour the lovely liquor over the top and seal and refrigerate.
It’s best to let it mature for a few weeks before digging in.
The gorgeous gathering season is almost at an end – so bottle these berries while you can.
Carefully wash 600g blackberries (half of mine always end up down the plughole!) and place them in a Kilner jar.
Pour over 1ltr of vodka and add 2 tbsp of sugar. I give them a good shake and leave in a cool dark place for three days to infuse.
Once this is done, I’ll strain through a muslin cloth, ensuring all particles are removed (you may need to do this a few times). Pour into sterilised bottles and chill. It will keep for a couple of months.
Get nifty with Halloween leftovers and use your pumpkin flesh for cakes, a healthy(ish) alternative to trick-or-treat sweets.
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Sift 190g flour into a bowl with 1tsp of cinnamon and mixed spice. I like to add a pinch of ground nutmeg, ginger and other spices. Add 1tsp of salt and bicarb soda.
In a separate bowl, beat 220g brown sugar and two eggs together until smooth. Add 425g grated pumpkin and 125ml vegetable oil and mix well.
This will fill roughly 12 muffin cases, which can be baked for 40 minutes until brown.
Fun to grow, and up in weeks – I always end up with too many of these rosy-faced veg. I like to blend them into a peppery dip for nachos.
I’ll wash and trim a bunch, and slice thinly. Then I’ll blend them with 225g soft cheese, a squeeze of lemon juice, 1 crushed garlic clove and a small handful of chopped dill or fennel tops.
Autumn curries aren’t complete without souped-up raita! Three or four beetroots work really well mixed with a small pot of natural yoghurt.
I add a pinch of paprika or chilli and, of course, chopped mint. Luckily, my herb patch is still sprouting new leaves. A pinch of salt and sugar will balance the flavours, but experiment with how much you like.
Many of my climbing beans are getting to the knobbly stage right now. These can be tough and stringy to eat in the usual way, so I like to turn them into chips.
Panko style breadcrumbs work well for this, and you can make your own easily by baking breadcrumbs in the oven. They’re even nicer mixed with a little Parmesan.
I’ll wash and trim two good handfuls of beans and pat them dry. Then I’ll dunk them in a bowl of beaten egg, coat them in the breadcrumbs, and place them on a baking tray. They need to cook for 10-12 minutes in a hot oven but keep checking on them, so they don’t burn.