Pickled Beets 3 Ways

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Pickled Beets 3 Ways

 

Tom Robbins wrote in his book, Jitterbug Perfume, “Breathe properly. Stay Curious. And eat your beets.”

If this is a recipe for a happy life, I’m in. Like you, I’ll make a few of my own adaptations and additions but this basic set of instructions seems like a great place to start: find magic in the little things, make daily discoveries, eat right and breathe. It’s easy to forget that life can be so perfectly simple.

At its core, this message also rings true for gardening and cooking. Experiment, try new varieties to grow, and mix and match with recipes. If you have an unexpected motherlode of tomatillos for instance, use them in place of tomatoes, pickle them with coriander instead of dill or can a round of salsa to enjoy throughout winter. If beets aren’t your favorite, try growing turnips. They’re not sweet like beets, but have their own unique flavor that’s easy to fall with love with.

If you’re a beet lover, here are 3 simple versions of pickled beets to be enjoyed on the spot, refrigerate and savor over the next few days or can and store for later. The first recipe is so far my best copy cat of pickled beets I purchased at a little farm shop in Southern Ontario. The Ravine winery and restaurant near Niagara-On-The-Lake is one of my favorite farm-to-table operations with a farm shop tucked away behind the tasting room. I have done my best to get as close to their recipe as possible and here’s my best try to date:

Savory Pickled Beets

This is a warm, spiced recipe that stands alone or is wonderful paired with fresh squeezed lemon, chèvre and greens.

What You Need:

  • 6 beets depending on size (more if smaller and fewer if large)
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 6 whole pepper corns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

What You Do:

  • Prepare beets by peeling and cutting into 1/2 to 1 inch wedges. Note, the skin of homegrown beets can be tender unlike some store bought beets. If so, you may not need to peel them.
  • Pre-cook beets by placing them in a pot with a cinnamon stick and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. (Your kitchen will smell divine.) Or, if you’d rather not boil them, steam them in a steaming basket for about 15 minutes.
  • While beets are cooking, combine the onion, spices, and vinegar in a sauce pan. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and cover. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, until onions are tender.
  • Combine onion, vinegar and spice mixture with beets in a large bowl. Let marinate for 30 minutes or more. Remove bay leaf before serving.
  • Serve warm with a squeeze of lemon, goat cheese and fresh greens or refrigerate and enjoy throughout the week.

Simple Pickled Beets

This is a simpler version of the above recipe. If you’re short on time or are looking for a milder flavor that can be paired with anything from curry to Thanksgiving dinner, this may be perfect.

What You Need:

  • 6 beets
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 6 whole pepper corns
  • 1 – 2 bay leaves
  • Salt to taste

What You Do:

  • Prepare beets as in the first recipe, peeling and cutting into 1/2 to 1 inch wedges. Boil with a bay leaf or steam until tender.
  • While beets are cooking, combine vinegar, peppercorns, sugar and a bay leaf in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • In a bowl, pour vinegar mixture over beets. Remove bay leaves and stir. Serve immediately or refrigerate and eat within the week.

Canned Pickled Beets

Use the above flavor combinations or a more traditional recipe with pickling spices and can your harvest. This is a great solution if you’re faced with more beets than you can eat within the week.

I personally love canned beets using the first recipe using red onion and cinnamon. They’re wonderful on a fresh salad in winter or as a garnish with rice and fish.

What You Need:

  • Preferred spices. Such as those above or pickling spices. About 3 Tbsp or more.
  • 2 1/2 cups white vinegar (5%)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • About 10 to 12 beets
  • Large pot or canner, canning jars and lids.

What You Do:

  • Sterilize jars, canning lids and prepare canning pot. I like to fill the canner with water, bring water to a boil and place jars in the canning pot. That way I know they’re sterilized and hot when I ladle beets in later. 
  • Prepare beets as above, making sure they’re chopped into evenly sized pieces.
  • Prepare spices, vinegar, onion, water and sugar in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add beets to vinegar mixture. Return to a boil.
  • Ladle beets into hot jars and top with hot liquid, leaving about 1/2 inch of room between the beets and the top of the jar.
  • Wipe rim, center lid and fit into place with a ring. Screw the ring down until it feels tight.
  • Place all the jars back in the canner. Add extra water if needed to be sure the jars are completely covered. Bring to a boil. Process for 30 minutes.

Refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation for further safety guidelines.

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