I love beets. I’d never really had them before I did some work for a pickled beet client in Chicago. Aunt Nelly’s Pickled Beets opened my eyes! I now enjoy them roasted, boiled or pickled, and I’ve even juiced a few.
This spring, my fiance grew a bunch of beets from seed. Over the last month we’ve harvested tons of these little jewels from the earth! Since he’s not the beet lover I am, I decided to pickle the beets so we could save them for later.
A simple salad with my homemade pickled beets, goat cheese, carrots and arugula.
The process wasn’t hard, but it was time consuming. In a nutshell, you boil, peel, pickle and can the beets. I was really happy with the way they came out. They weren’t too vinegary or too sugary sweet. And while I did infuse the pickling liquid with pickling spices in some cheese cloth, that wasn’t overpowering either. The pickling spices have cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and other strongly-flavored spices that I think can compete with the earthy flavor of the beets if overdone.
Making pickled beets from scratch reminds me of when I made that pumpkin pie a few years ago completely from scratch. I started with a whole pumpkin and ended with a pumpkin pie. It was a sense of accomplishment for sure, and I learned a ton.
But did I make that pumpkin pie completely from scratch a second time? Nope. I learned not long after that one of the best canned products is canned pumpkin – without any additives and minimal processing, it’s exactly like roasting it yourself but without all the hassle. But I did it for the experience. I had a vague idea how to roast the pumpkin, but I didn’t know how to put it all together, and now I do. And I’ve applied that learning to other dishes I’ve made.
Will I make pickled beets again? Maybe, because I do love them, but it was a bit of a labor of love (if you love beets, that is). But I’m really glad I did it once. If you find yourself with a free afternoon and a bushel of beets, try this recipe!!
Yield: 6.5 pint jars of beets
Total Time: 3 hours
A very straight forward recipe for pickled beets! The pickling liquid isn't too vinegary or too sweet, just a perfect combination of sweet and sour.
7 lbs of 2- to 2-1/2-inch diameter beets
4 cups vinegar (I used 2 cups apple cider vinegar and 2 cups white vinegar)
1-1/2 teaspoons canning or pickling salt (kosher salt also works, it just takes longer to dissolve)
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
4 tablespoons pickling spices
cheese cloth (medical gauze is a good substitue if you don't have cheese cloth handy)
Trim leaves off beets, but leave stem end and root end intact to prevent bleeding during boiling.
Boil beets for about 30 minutes until a fork can be inserted easily; drain. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and slice them.
Meanwhile, make the pickling liquid. Combine remaining ingredients and simmer with pickling spices in cheesecloth for about 30 minutes. Simmer sliced beets in pickling liquid for five minutes.
Stack beets in sterilized jars and pour pickling liquid over top. Process in a water bath for 30 minutes until cans are sealed. This recipe made about six pint jars and 1 half pint jar of beets.
This recipe was adapted from the National Center for Home Food Preparation. http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_06/pickled_beets.html