- apple cider vinegar
- pickling spices
I’ve added another beet recipe to my tool belt. I was given a large box of large beets for my free community cooking class. We discussed how popular or unpopular beets are here in the U.S. Pickled canned beets are one way that many of us have eaten them, over salads, for example. I love my beet potato salad recipe, my pom pom salad recipe, I love them roasted, and I love them juiced. But my family and I always love a good savory pickle. It was hard to find a recipe for savory beets. Most recipes suggest adding sugar. I just never do that with my pickles, never, ever, ever. I can’t stomach it. (Don’t worry, I do love sugar in many things, just not pickles).
The recipe I found online was from my very own local Beacon Food Forest, which made me very happy. Although it was for refrigerator pickles and I wanted something shelf stable. So I altered it a bit, read some other recipes in my canning book and we made some jars of each.
Step 1: boil the beets on a low boil for 30 minutes. This way they are easier to peel and partially cooked. The beets I was using were very large, about the size of my fist, so they weren’t even cooked all the way through after 30 minutes. But it was a good start.
Step 2: Peel the beets, cut off the root and stem. We used peelers. The peels were not slipping off, but if you boil longer or if you wrap in foil and roast, the skin sometimes slips right off. The beets I was using were old, not at their peak….all the more reason to pickle them. ( For fridge pickles, you really don’t need to pre cook them at all, you can just peel and chop and jar up. But we were mass producing and weren’t sure how many jars of either kind we would make.).
Step 3: slice the beets into 1/2 inch or smaller thickness chunks. We were mass producing so we put these all into one giant bowl to divide up later.
Step 4: Make a brine. My basic recipe is 2 1/2 cups water, 2 1/2 cups vinegar, 1/4 cup salt. For the shelf stable sealed jars, I heated the brine. For the fridge pickles I din’t have to heat the brine at all. We made this recipe times 5 or 6, but again, we were making loads.
Step 5: sanitize your jars in the hot water canning pot. Then remove your jars from the hot water. I always place a towel on the counter to keep the jars from slipping, breaking, and to soak up any excess water or brine.
Step 6: Put dill, black peppercorn, mustard seed, and any other spices you wish to use, into your jars. I am liberal with my use of dill weed and black pepper. Just a pinch of celery and mustard seed.
Step 7: fill each jar with beet chunks/slices. Fill to 1/2 inch from the top. Gently tap the jars on their bottom on the counter, to settle the contents, then add a few more slices if they’ll fit.
Here’s where you choose between sealing the jars or putting them into the fridge. For cold fridge pickles, you can add some room temperature brine and screw a lid on and put into the fridge. After 2-3 weeks, they are ready to enjoy. For sealed shelf stable pickles, you must fill the jars with hot brine, put on new lids and rings and put into a canning pot with boiling hot water and process for 30 minutes. Remove hot jars and allow to cool completely on the counter. Within the first 5 minutes of cooling down, you should hear the ping pop of the lids sealing. Or if you walk away and don’t have the pleasure of hearing it, you can check them later by looking for a flat lid, or gently pushing on the center to see if it gives, or by removing the rings and gently testing to see whether the lid is sealed on tightly or not. This is all best done after they’ve cooled down completely several hours later.
For either pickle, you should wait 3 weeks for optimal flavor before opening. Fridge pickles will last 3 months, shelf pickles will last 1 year unopened.