Twenty five days after burying seven beetroots in Mike Knowlden's High Easter sourdough starter, I dredged them out of their purple goo and gave them a scrub. They have battled outbreaks of amazing, gloriously coloured surface moulds, and suffered the fluctuating temperatures of my kitchen on recent sunny mornings. They are soft and squidgy, although the inside remains intact. Their smell is powerfully yeasty, and combined with the muddy and fruity flavour of beetroots, is almost like paint - sharply sour and sweet with a twang of acetone. There is something reminiscent of soap, and associatively they bring to mind some of the more extreme hoppy IPAs around at the moment. They are unsalted, so as not to limit the action of the yeast. I have put three of them in a pot of live beetroot lactic brine, and I will roast a couple to see how caramelisation affects the sugar remaining post-fermentation.