Tuesday, January 17, 2012
At Last - The Pickled Beet Recipe!
Why have I waited so long? Mainly because beets are a cool weather crop. They are normally planted 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost in spring and 2 to 3 weeks before the first frost of autumn. They can be grown throughout the winter in milder climates. Beets are harvested at about 60 days growing time. Therefore, when I went to the Farmer's Market last week, they had a beautiful crop of fresh, ruby red beets. Can I tell you how excited I was? More than!!! - That's how excited. The jars of pickled beets from my last canning session were long gone. Seems everyone (except Dan) fell in love with them and they were quickly consumed. Dan hates all things with vinegar in them. I did this project today while he was spending time with his recording engineer making music. That way, I didn't have to listen to him gag and retch all afternoon from the smell of simmering vinegar. hahaha But, I was making my own kind of music, believe me!
There are references to beets as early as the 8th century BC. Now that's a long, long time ago. They grew in the Mediterranean regions and were cultivated in other countries from there. There are several varieties of beets, but the ones I am using are known as "beet root."
One of my fondest memories is of my grandmother's pickled beets which always had a place of honor on the kitchen table along with her spiced peaches, spiced apples and assorted jellies and jams. I can still remember how wonderful it was to have a spiced peach or some pickled beets with dinner. They have been one of my favorites ever since. Dan's mom also made pickled beets that I truly loved. Here is the recipe I used today.
3-4 pounds fresh beets
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp whole cloves
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
To cook fresh beets:
Use tender, freshly picked beets. Wash to remove all traces of garden soil. Rinse and drain. Cut off all leaves and stems, leaving about 1 inch of the root end.
Place beets in a large, heavy pan - preferably stainless or enamel. Aluminum can stain. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook until fork tender, approximately 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
Let the beets cool until you can safely handle them. Once cooled, you can peel the skin right off - like a hard boiled egg. Beets will stain your hands, so wear gloves or use a paper towel to peel. Leave beets whole if small, or cut them up as you prefer.
The Pickling Brine:
In a large stainless or enamel pan, mix apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, whole allspice, cloves and ground cinnamon. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar melts. Reduce heat and let the brine simmer approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Have clean, sterilized jars ready. You can wash them in the dishwasher if you have one (otherwise, wash and rinse by hand) and then place them in a cake pan. Heat your oven to 200 degrees, place the pan with jars in the oven until you are ready to fill them. Prepare 2 piece lids and rings according to directions. ALWAYS use new lids. Rings can be reused.
Pack peeled and trimmed beats into HOT canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch space from jar rim Carefully pour hot pickling brine into each jar, covering beets and allow 1/4 inch head space. (I used a big soup ladle and funnel to keep from spilling brine down the jars.) Run a thin spatula through the jars to remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar rims with a damp paper towel. Add lids and rings.
You can use a water bath method to preserve the jars (follow instructions with water bath canner), or store the sealed beets in the refrigerator, which I what I do. They don't last long enough to go through the whole water bath process. There is nothing like the sound of the "POP" when the lid seals. That means you are ready for some good eating in a few days! I really can't wait. This recipe made two quarts jars or 4 pint jars. I will be going back to the Farmer's Market in search of more beets!
If you have access to fresh beets this time of year, give this recipe a try. You will be so glad you did. They are a wonderful addition to any meal with that lovely hint of cloves, allspice and cinnamon.
Things to Remember:
“Beet ever so onion there snow peas legume.”