Here at our house, the canning continues. The latest is this delightful pickled beet recipe that seemed like a good way to use the three big bunches of beets that have been cooling their heels in the crisper of our fridge since we picked them up from our CSA several weeks ago. We had three delicious varieties -- red, chiogga and golden.
If you're not a fan of beets, I encourage you to keep trying them. After hating beets with a passion for about 30 years, I did a complete about-face a few years back and now love them. I think it's easier to transition to golden beets as their flavor is a little mellower and sweeter than red or purple beets. They served as the "gateway beet" for me.
Cumin and beets go so well together - the exotic savory flavor pairs really nicely with the beets' rich sweetness. Vinegar adds a little bite and salt brings the whole thing up to a humming pitch.
These pickled beets are delicious on falafel or as part of a Middle Eastern style mezze spread with hummus, olives and stuffed grape leaves. In addition to tasting good, they also look good - I think the jars are positively jewel-like.
If you've ever cooked with beets before, you know that they stain - so wear gloves unless you're okay with having pink hands for the day (the mark of a beet lover!)
The recipe below is from Sherri Brooks Vinton's excellent canning and preserving cookbook, Put 'Em Up.
Pickled Beets With Cumin and Cloves
Makes about 3 pints
* 2 pounds beets (any variety), tops and root ends cut off
* 1 cup distilled white vinegar
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/2 Tbsp salt
* 1 Tbsp cumin seed
* 1/4 tsp whole cloves
1. Prep the beets by boiling or roasting them until nearly tender. To boil them, place in a large pot with water to cover by 2 to 3 inches. Bring to a low boil and cook until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of the beets. Drain and set aside until enough to handle. To roast them, preheat the oven to 375 F. Wrap the beets in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a fork, 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the beets. Remove from the oven, open the foil and set aside until cool enough to handle. Regardless of which cooking method you choose, the skins should slip off the cooked beets easily, leaving lovely smooth beets behind. Use a paring knife to cuff away and stubborn bits or damaged spots. Then cut them in half and then again into 1/4 slices. Set aside while you prepare your jars and brine.
2. Boil your jars and lids for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the brine - combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a medium, non-reactive saucepan, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt, then remove from the heat.
3. Pack the beets into 3 clean, hot pint jars, arranging the slices snugly but with enough room for brine to circulate and stopping 1 inch below the top of the jars. Divide the cumin seed and cloves evenly among the jars. Pour the hot bring brine over the beets to cover by 1/2 inch. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid.
4. If you don't want to bother canning these, you can just let them cool, cover them and store them in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. If you do want to preserve them for up to a year, follow these instructions: Release any trapped air bubbles by shimmying a knife round the edges of the jars. Wipe the rims clean with a clean, damp paper towel. Apply the lids and screw on the jar bands. Process the jars for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Remove the jars and allow to cool. Test the seals (the tops should all be popped down) and store in a cool, dark place for up to one year. Any jars whose lids have not popped down should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 3 weeks.
Not feeling totally confident yet about canning? Check out my how-to post for more detailed instructions.
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