You may love them or you may hate them but when the mood strikes me I can sit and snack on
half a jar of pickled beets. They have a flavour and colour that are just beautiful. I remember
reading that the more colourful your fruits and veggies, the higher the nutritional content. If anyone has cooked with beets you will know they are just about the most colourful food out there! In fact they will colour whatever they touch, your hands, your sink, your cutting board, anything. Beets are full of good things like anti-carcinogens and carotenoids, they are low calorie and just a great side-dish to any meal (well, maybe not breakfast). I made a great batch about 2 years ago and have recently eaten my way through the last jar, just in time to buy a 10 lb bag of fresh beets to pickle. Of course I have no idea what recipe I followed last time, so I'm flying blind baby - I hope they're as good as last time!
If you have never canned before, it can be an intimidating process. However, if you are organized and have a system that works, you can really minimize time and mess.
You want to make sure that your jars and lids are washed and ready to be sterilized. Have a pot of water on the stove ready to boil for just such an occasion. Prepare your syrup/brine/spices before you start cooking your vegetables (or fruit).
Pickled Beets Recipe
Warning: Be ready for your kitchen to look like the crime scene from some gory movie...
- 10 lbs of beets
- 10 cups vinegar
- 5 cups sugar
- 3 tbsp whole cloves
Clean your beets and boil until just soft. Place your larger beets in first, and addthe smaller ones a few minutes later so they finish cooking around the same time. This should take around 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of your beets. While they are cooking, combine vinegar, sugar and cloves in a pot and bring to a boil. Also, bring your pot of water to a boil to be ready to sterilize your jars and lids.
When the beets are tender, drain and peel off the skin and
nubs. If they are sufficiently cooked the skin and nubs should just slip right off.
Lay in your pot of boiling water however many jars will fit. Cover and allow to sterilize for about 3-4 minutes. Lift out with tongs and empty, then place right side up on a clean dish towel. When you are finished, pour some of the boilingwater over your lids and let them sit for a few minutes.
Cup up your beets into whichever size you want, (I usually cut 1/2 inch slices, then cut those in half) and pack them into your jars. Pour in brine up to 1/2 inch from the top. To prevent having some jars that basically taste like a giant clove, reserve your cloves and portion them out, about 6-7 per jar.
Here is where you may have to do some juggling - you want to sterilize your jars at the right time so that they are still warm when you fill them with
beets and brine.
Take a warm, clean cloth and gently wipe the edge of the jar, then place a lid on the top (making sure not to touch the inside of the jar or lid) and gently twist on the other half of the lid. Now cross your fingers and hope they seal. If everything goes well, they will seal and keep for a year, but even if they don't, they should still stay fresh for several months. Store in a dry, dark place. The longer you allow them to 'pickle', the more flavourful they will become.
There is something so satisfying about seeing your little group of finished jars all lined up in a row, waiting to be enjoyed, getting more delicious with age.