Perfect Piccalilli and Sad Tomatoes

Yesterday I wrote about using up the millions of courgettes we all grow in our allotments.  Today I made piccalilli to use up some of my courgettes.

Piccalilli is lovely served with cold meats or cheeses.

Sarah from Australia has advised me, that over there they call Piccalilli, ‘Musard Pickles’ and courgettes are know as ‘zucchini’.  Thanks for that information Sarah, it’s really interesting to find this out.

 The only problem I have with piccalilli is that my husband gets very possessive over it, as he loves it so much.  He likes to have it at the side of an omellette, served with a nice crisp salad.

This is how to make it:

Piccalilli

1 large cauliflower cut up into small florets

3 onions or 12 shallots chopped 

900 grams of mixed vegetables of your choice e.g. carrots, courgettes, runner beans etc. cut into bite-sized pieces

90 grams of salt

2 tablespoons of plain flour

250 grams granulated sugar

1 tablespoon turmeric

60 grams English mustard powder

900mls ready spiced pickling vinegar

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Put all the vegetables into a large non-matallic bowl (I use my mixing bowl)

Dissolve the salt into 1.8 litres of water and then pour over the vegetables

Cover with a plate and leave for twenty four hours

Drain the vegetables and rinse them in cold water

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and blanch the vegetables for 2 minutes (don’t overcook as the vegetables should be crunchy)

Drain the vegetables and immediately put in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Put the flour, sugar, turmeric and mustard in a small bowl and mix with a small amount of vinegar to make a paste.

Put the paste in a pan and add the remaining vinegar, a little bit at a time and bring to the boil stirring continuously, so you have no lumps

Simmer for 15 minutes

Add the vegetables and stir well so they are all coated

Put it into sterilised jars making sure there are no air bubbles.

(Sterilise jars by placing in an oven, gas mark 4 for 5 minutes)

Seal and label the jars

Leave for one month before eating and refridgerate after opening

Store unopened jars in a cool dark place and they will last for 6 months.

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Blight just beginning on my tomatoes

Today was a sad day for my outdoor tomatoes, as they succumbed to the dreaded blight.  Last year was the very first year I didn’t have blight as it was so dry, but this year it’s back again.  I am lucky though as at least I still have my greenhouse tomatoes at home.

I grow an old variety of outdoor tomatoes called ’Outdoor Girl’. This variety usually matures early and I get a good crop before the blight strikes.

Unfortunately my tomatoes haven’t grown too well this year, because of all the cold and damp weather we have had and I would say they are at least a month behind.  I wish I could say the same about the ‘blight’.

I have been checking my tomatoes regularly, after having numerous texts from ‘Blight watch’, which tell you when it is the perfect conditions in your area for blight spores to become active.  Therefore I have caught it very early on.

If you live in the UK you can join ‘Blightwatch’, or get more information about it here:

http://www.blightwatch.co.uk/content/bw-Home.asp

I find if I catch it early and strip the green tomatoes from the plant, I can ripen them on my windowsill.  However, some of the tomatoes do still develop the blight and they have to be thrown away, though most of them are actually ok.

I have noticed that there are far fewer tomatoes this year than last and they are smaller than normal, as they are so behind with their development. When they ripen I will make them into a tomato pasatta, but I won’t be able to make the quantity I had last year.

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Tomato blight – Useful information:

What is it and what does it look like:

Tomato blight is caused by the same fungus as potato blight.  It is called ‘Phytophthora infestans’, but it is more commonly known as ‘late blight’.  It is a windblown fungus that can travel long distances.  It spreads when the temperature is above 10C and the humidity is above 75% for two consecutive days, known as a ‘Smith Period’.   In the UK outbreaks can occur from June onwards and apparently it is usually seen in the south west first.

The disease is common on outdoor tomatoes, but tomatoes grown in a polytunnel or greenhouse have some protection from it, as the spores have to enter through doors and vents.

The early stages of blight can be easily missed and not all plants are affected at the same time, however it will spread rapidly.

Blight on my tomatoes.

Symptoms usually seen are brown patches that appear on the leaves and stems and spread very rapidly. The fruit will also turn brown. The underside of leaves can develop a downy white coating of spores in moist conditions.

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What can you do to prevent blight?

You can grow varieties that are not so susceptible to blight e.g. ‘Ferline’ and ‘Legend’, but remember that some varieties can resist some strains of the fungus but not others.

I like to choose an earlier maturing variety that is ready to harvest before blight strikes, though the tomatoes are usually smaller.

Do not save seed from infected plants as it can survive in the seed and reproduce next spring. Instead, buy good quality seed from a reputable supplier.

Remove any potatoes that were left in the ground from the previous year as the pathogen over winters in rotten potatoes. 

Keep the plant foliage as dry as possible by watering in the morning and at the base of the plants.  Mulch will reduce the amount of watering needed.

Try to avoid brushing past tomato plants when they are wet as this can increase the likelihood of spreading the spores.

Space plants wide apart so the air can flow around the plants.

Keep monitoring your plants and act quickly if you see blight on them.

You can use a ‘bordeaux’ mix to control blight, but you need to spray before blight takes hold as it protects the foliage.  It also needs to be sprayed on your plants regularly so organic gardeners do not favour this method.

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 My tomato plants have blight, what do I do?

If you catch it early you can strip the tomatoes from the plant and ripen them on a windowsill.  Be careful to check them every day as some of them may already be affected.

If you haven’t caught it really early, you can use the green tomatoes to make chutney, as provided they haven’t turned brown, the tomatoes are safe to eat.

Take up your blighted tomatoes plants straight away and dispose of them, so you don’t help to spread the spores to your neighbour’s plots.

 According to ‘Garden Organic’ the stems and leaves of affected plants can be added to your compost heap, as the spores won’t survive on dead plant material, but do not compost any blighted fruit as the spores survive in the seeds.  I choose to take my affected plants to my local tip where they are added to the ‘green’ waste which reaches very high temperatures which will definitely kill the spores. 

 

I hope this information has been of use to you.

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That’s it for today.

  Thank you for reading my post.

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2 thoughts on “Perfect Piccalilli and Sad Tomatoes

  1. Hi Lisa, the information about blight is very useful as we get similar problems growing tomatoes here in Brisbane Australia.
    When I saw the word piccalilli I had no idea what it was until I saw your photo and read the ingredient list. We call it “mustard pickles” here – and I love it, so thanks for the recipe.
    It’s interesting seeing the different names things are called in different parts of the world. We call courgetes “zucchini”
    Enjoying your posts, as always!
    Cheers, Sarah

    • Thanks Sarah, how interesting. I did know you call courgettes ‘zucchini’ but totally forgot and I should of mentioned this but I didn’t know about the mustard pickles….that’s fantastic. I’ll update it in the post.
      Thanks again, I love information like this

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