Category Archives: Questions to the cook

questions to the cook – 24th august 2010

We’re answering your questions about cooking, preparing, or storing fruit, veg.  This week we’ve answered your questions on damsons, elderberries, rosehips, cucumbers and our chocolate beetroot brownies.

 Post your questions here on the blog and we’ll pass them to our cooks to answer in the next questions to the cook blog.

help! i’ve been at the hedge veg again! just picked a load of damsons, most of the ones I picked are ok, but hubby picked quite a few greenies, what would you recomend to do with ones that are not quite ripe? risk making jam or make a chutney? and do you have any recipies? also what can i do with elderberries (but make shockingly good wine) and rosehips which i’ve been told are packed with vit c, but again can’t seem to find anything to do with this great “hedge veg” i have all within walking distance of my house. thanks caroline
Caroline Harrison

There’s not a lot you can do with unripe damsons. Leave them on the windowsill for a while so they ripen. You can then try making damson gin with around 450g of washed damsons, 160g of white granulated sugar and 75cl gin. Prick the fruit and pour into a sterilised 1 ltr bottle add the sugar and fill with gin to the rim. Shake every day until the sugar is dissolved and then store in a cool, dark place for 3 months to a year then strain and bottle it.

To use up your elderberries, try a jam. Put 1.3 – 1.8kg of elderberries into a large pan and crush. Heat up and simmer for 10 minutes. Seive the mashed berries and let it strain for several hours.

Measure out 3 cups of juice to make one batch of jam. Any amount more than that you can reserve for making syrup, or add to another batch for jelly. Put 3 cups of juice into a large, wide pot (8-quart). Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice a packet of pectin. Bring it to boil and add 4 ½ cups sugar and ¼ teaspoon of butter. Stir with a wooden spoon and bring to the boil (watching the pot). As it reaches boiling point, stir, and after 2 minutes, remove it from the heat and pour into sterilised jars 

Rosehips also make a good jelly and can be made into a syrup with 4 ½ pints water, 90g rosehips and 45g white granulated sugar. Top and tail the rosehips, boil 3 pints of the water and put the rosehips in a food processor. Transfer the fruit into the boiling water and bring to the boil again before removing from the heat and leaving for 15 mins. Strain the mixture then return the pulp to the pan and add the remaining water. Bring it to the boil, remove from the heat and leave for 15 minutes. Strain again, then add all the extracted liquid to a clean saucepan and boil until reduced to 1.5 pints. Add the sugar and boil for 5 mins then poit into sterilised bottles straight away.


Can I freeze the beetroot chocolate brownies from your Riverford cookbook? and how long can I keep them?
Jan Coppen

Yes, you can freeze them and you can keep them for no more than 3 months.

Try our  recipe for chocolate beetroot brownies here.


got any suggestions for using or preserving cucumbers?
hazelshomegrown (via Twitter)

You can store cucumbers at the bottom of the fridge for a week or so, but the flavour deteriorates – they’re much better if eaten fresh.

As for using them, you can’t really beat cucumber raw in a salad, but for something a little different, try our recipes for spiced cucumber and cucumber pickle.

Order cucumber from Riverford Organic.

questions to the cook – 16th August 2010

Every week we’re answering your questions about cooking, preparing, or storing the fruit, veg, and anything else you get from us. This week Guy answers your questions about courgettes, pointed cabbage and storing your veg. See the original post here.

Post your questions here on the blog and we’ll pass them to our cooks to answer in the next questions to the cook blog.

This week’s questions

courgettes from Riverford OrganicI have quite a few cougettes left and would like some recipes for them. I live alone so recipes that I can portion up and freeze would be good. I am a veggie so no dead animals. Thanks .
Trina Hollis

We are just over the peak of the UK courgette season (typically the last week in July and first two of August is when they are really flushing). As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler the plants run out of vigour they slow down fast. My favourite way of using them is to make a fritter. Grate as many as you have and mix with a little salt to draw out moisture. Leave for five minutes then wrap in a tea towel and wring out as much moisture as possible. Click here for a recipe for courgette and feta fritters with tomato salsa

Jane makes a great salad with tomatoes and courgettes cut into slices lengthways and griddled. See the full recipe here.

One more thing; courgettes are best fresh. After a few days in the fridge they may look OK but they rapidly lose flavour.


Pointed cabbage! Nearly everything else I have found a way of using, actually one of the reasons for trying a veg box was that I felt I was in a veggie rut, but pointed cabbage…sigh. I have tried some things with it, but I still feel a bit uninspired. Something quick, tasty, and different!
Jackie Gibbins

These are a variety called hispi and are incredibly sweet and tender and need very little cooking. Cut in half lengthways and slice thinly. Wash and drain and steam in

pointed cabbage from Riverford Organic

a pan with a tight lid. Serve with a knob of butter plus salt and pepper. If a bit more adventurous slice up some garlic and gently fry in a little butter in the pan for a minute before adding the cabbage as before. Stir through some grated parmesan when cooked…yum. We are serving this in the travelling field kitchen at the moment, sometimes adding finely sliced runner beans with the cabbage..


Is it really best to store vegetables in plastic bags in the fridge? I always thought that paper bags were better as this stopped them sweating.
Joby Blume

I know most of you hate those plastic bags but for leafy veg they are pretty much essential to stop them wilting. They only cause sweating if they get warm (can act as something between a green house and a compost heap) so get them in the fridge and they will be fine. Roots are generally better in paper (especially potatoes to keep them in the dark and onions to keep them dry).

If you have any questions, post them here.