Friday, October 8, 2010

pickled beets

Oy. I'm sitting in a mess of mediocre and semi-failed recipes, and there is flour everywhere. If anyone wants a not-quite twinkie, they should stop by before I eat any more of them. Please, I'm serious. Help.

Sometimes this stuff just works--other times that perfect outcome dances around me, absolutely out of reach. Did I mention that there is flour everywhere? ...and somehow a fair amount of butter in my hair.

Joey and the girls will be back from school in a few minutes, so I'm just here for a minute. I've got to get this place cleaned up so that the ladies don't lick the frosting off the counters (yes, they will). But I wanted to say hello before the weekend, and to talk about something entirely different than twinkies.

Like beets.

I was talking to a friend last week--a friend who cooks at a famous restaurant where they see a lot of beets. He said that no matter what he did, they always tasted like dirt. I kind of like the taste of dirt myself, but I suggested a little yogurt and garlic, and he said he'd give it a try. But the more I though about it afterward, the more I realized that this would be my answer.

You see, beets, like cucumbers, are one of those vegetables that I think calls out to be pickled. I'm sure the call comes in Russian, and it's forceful and persuasive. I thought about making a batch of pickled beets for a month before I actually rolled up my sleeves and got to it. I let those beets sit and yell in the fridge. I could hear them, and I answered, "Give me a minute! Can't you see I'm busy!" I was speaking in Russian too, or at least in a Russian accent.

But when I finally gave in, I knew I was doing something so so right. And this week when I opened the first jar...wham!

These perfect beets are not for the faint of heart. They will kick you in the butt and accessorize your salad like nothing else can. These beets are for you. And the failed-ish twinkies? Well you can have those for dessert.

Pickled Beets
(with help from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preservation)

3 1/2 pounds beets, scrubbed, greens removed (and eaten for dinner!) with 2 inches of stem left intact
4 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Put the beets in a large pot. Cover with water, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium low and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain beets and run them under water. The skins should rub off pretty easily.
Get your canning pot heating right about now if you haven't started it yet. Make sure that you have jars ready-this will fill 4 pints and 1 half-pint, or 9 half-pints.
Combine the vinegar, water, and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar. Keep it at a low boil until you are ready to use it.
Trim the beets of roots and stems, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Fill the jars with the beets and add a pinch of caraway seeds and peppercorns to each jar. Pour the hot brine over the beets, allowing 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the rim of the jar, top with lid and band, and process in a water bath for 30 minutes.


  1. got any more twinkies??? if so, we are coming up now :)

  2. For a long time, I thought beets just came pickled . . . because that's the only way I'd eaten them! Now, of course, I've had them grated, boiled and roasted and I do appreciate them that way. But I think pickling is the beet's true calling. Your jars look gorgeous!

  3. Listen. I won't be mad at all if you happen to send a care-package to 2443 vine street denver co 80205. I am a very big fan of most things pickled and Beets in any fashion. Also I watched a craft food show and think you should try pickling some lavender & greenbeans. You can send some of those too. I mean if you have too many... i might even share them... but maybe not.

  4. In case you accidentally send Sam too many, I will nobly step in and help with the pickled beet eating. J hates them so I don't get too many opportunities to have them in the house. Mmmmmmm

  5. Okay! Okay! Now how to send pickles in the mail....

  6. I'll be trying this recipe as soon as the Susquehanna River goes down enough for me to go home...assuming I don't have flood damage to clean up.