Daikon in the spring

Daikon – Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus – is a vegetable with a bright future. It is easy to grow, versitile and can take on an amazing spectrum of flavours and texures. It is already cultivated in large quantities in many parts of the world. Just like many other Asian cabbage varieties, it doesn’t deal well with the midsummer light in Sweden so I usually sow it outdoors at the end of July/beginning of August. This way, it becomes an important ingredient in autumn kimchi or as a great storing vegetable for the winter.

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Beetroot kvass

So simple, so delicious, so healthy!

(I have only made this for home use as it doesn’t have a long shelf life)

Fill a jar 1/3 full with 1cm cubes of beetroot (peeled or unpeeled depending on your inclination), add a bit of ginger, cover with water, and sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Seal with a lid and let it sit at room temperature for about 5 days until the water turns deep red. Strain out the beets, chill the juice, and enjoy. A little bit of this every day will surely keep the doctor away. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Here is another recipe for beetroot.

Beetroot

Fermented beetroots have a deep and earthy flavor. When you ferment beetroots alone, they can sometimes become slightly slimy due to their high sugar content, which attracts yeast. This, combined with the activity of lactic acid bacteria, results in a texture resembling buttermilk. However, you can easily avoid this by incorporating other, less sweet vegetables such as daikon, turnip, or cabbage. Adding some onion and ginger is a good way to elevate the taste from its earthy depths.

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Tomato Salsa

This tomato salsa is fresh, sweet-sour, and tastes best within 2 months. After that, it can become slightly too acidic and a bit slimy (but still edible). This is a great way to use unripe and semi-ripe tomatoes towards the end of the season. Do not use overly ripe tomatoes for this recipe, as they are sweeter and can result in a fermentation dominated by yeast, leading to excessive bubbliness. I use a starter culture here.

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Verjus

Verjus is a refreshing sour flavour enhancer that falls between lemon and vinegar in taste. It can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks (if you use citric acid, it can last for several months, I have read but not tried). Verjus is the juice extracted from unripe grapes, which are typically thinned out during the summer. According to Wikipedia, it was most popular during the Middle Ages when it was mixed with herbs like meadowsweet for a unique flavour. Nowadays, it is primarily used in salad dressings, but in the past, it was used in cooking as a substitute for wine and vinegar.

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The first harvest – the garden’s unintended biodiversity and other plants

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and in the garden, the first nutrient-rich green leaves are popping up – no sowing or planting required: nettles and ground elder! Even in greenhouses, you may find some leafy greens.

Nettles

April and May are the best seasons for using nettles as a vegetable. With gloves on, pick the tender tops or 4-6 of the top leaves from larger plants. Later in the year, you can also harvest the immature and mature seeds and sprinkle them over muesli or use them in bread.

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