Monday, September 3, 2012

Pickled beets in 6 easy steps

Canning beets is a super easy though a bit time consuming way to preserve the delicious tangy sourness that beets have. Beets are super low in fat and calories, deliver a punch to your tastebuds, and are an excellent source of folate, and contains a significant amount of fiber, manganese and potassium! Plus they have such a beautiful deep purple color that it will instantly brighten any plate.

A few tips prior to start canning: beets are beautiful yet very staining, so please dont wear your Sunday best while canning. Old shirt and pants and an old apron are highly reccomended. As well as gloves, if available, unless your ok with having purple fingers for about two weeks afterwards. Clean the instruments you use between the steps ASAP so as to remove the stain, wipe countertops and knives as well. Beet juice is actually an excellent natural dye, FYI. So knowing that, be prepared for some staining. This whole process also takes time, so dont start if you cant finish.

Step 1
Purchase the amount of beets you need from a local farm (or better yet, grow your own!). Beets dont shrink or expand so if you buy 2 ltrs, be prepared to can 2 ltrs.

Step 2
Pass the beets through water in a colander, roughly rinsing off whatever detachable dirt there is. Its ok if they have some dirt left on them, theyll be squeaky clean by the end of the whole process. Cut off the two ends and any serious pockmark.

Step 3
In a large non-reactive pot, boil the beets whole with their skin still on for about 15-20 mns, until you can easily spear them through with a knife.

Step 4
Drain in colander, rinse thoroughly, and let cool before touching. Now is the time to prepare your glass jars. Wash and disinfect all jars, rings and tops. For added taste, I slice a little red onion at the bottom of each jar, but that is up to you. They are excellent without.

Step 5
Once you can easily hold one, start peeling. The peel should come off with extreme ease. You can either plop them down whole or cut them to your desired proportions. I do a jar of whole one (usually reserve the smaller ones for that), a jar of coins, and the rest cut into quarters. Don't ask me why, I just like the variety.

Step 6
Once you have filled the jars to the top, allowing for 1 inch headspace, all that is left to do is to add the vinegar. Boil the amount necessary (remember that you dont need 1 cup of vinegar for one 250 ml jar, the beets take up room!), add a bit of sugar if you like to cut the sourness, and some lemon juice. I used 4 cups of vinegar, 5 tbsp of white sugar, and 1 lemon's worth of juice. Boil that mixture up, and fill your jars up. Cap and process in a water-bath for 15mns. My grandmother actually skips this step, and technically the heat and acidity should seal the jars by themselves. Its up to you, if you feel confident enough, go right ahead! Store in a cool dry area, and I suggest waiting 2 weeks for the pickling to start before you pop open one of these suckers. Enjoy!

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