One of my favorite vegetables is beets. When I share this tidbit I’m usually met with this look of horror. I might as well have just said that I like brussels sprouts (I do), or that I eat kittens for breakfast (I don’t). I love them roasted in the oven with carrots, garlic, and herbs. I love the smell of them as they come out of the hot oven, the slightly sweet earthy smell makes me fall in love every time. I try to always keep a few jars of canned and pickled beets in my pantry.
I’ve found that most people have never even tried a beet, but still insist they must be gross. To these I simply tell them to try one before deciding. For those that have tried beets and still don’t like them, the usual objection is that they taste too “earthy”. Now, while I personally don’t think that the earthyness of the beet is a problem (it is in fact one reason why I love roasted beets so much), I understand that it is not for everyone. To this group of people, I tell them to try pickled beets. The pickling process removes much of that rustic earthyness from the beet, instead infusing it with the spices, herbs, and a bit of tang from the vinegar.
Homemade pickled beets do not compare to the canned variety at the store. The ones in the store have no flavoring other than the vinegar they’re pickled in, and are quite plain and while they’ll do in a pinch are really not that great. The thing about doing it yourself is you can tailor the flavors to what you like.
The best way to enjoy pickled beets is on a pickled beet salad. Dark leafy greens, feta cheese, mandarin oranges, pickled beets, and balsamic vinaigrette. Oh, my mouth is watering at the thought…
Will you give pickled beets a try?
from: Ball Blue Book of Preserving
Yield: about 6 pints or 3 quarts
3 quarts beets (about 24 small), 2 cups sugar, 2 sticks cinnamon, 1 tablespoon whole allspice, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3 1/2 cups vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water
1) Wash beets with a stiff bristled brush; rinse and drain.
2) To cook the beets preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the tops off each beet and place in small foil packets about 6 beets per pouch, crimp the edges of the packets to seal. Place on cookie sheet and roast in oven about 30 minutes until beets are fork tender. Open the packets and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, using a butter knife peal the skin off each beet. Slice or dice beets.
3) Combine all remaining ingredients except beets in a large sauce pot. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks. Pack beets into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Ladle hot liquid over beets, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Tap jars on counter to remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints and quarts for 30 minutes in a boiling-water canner.