Monday, 11 October 2010

Traditional Pickled Beets

Last week I was given 6 quarts of "Cylindra" beets that were starting to go just a tad soft, so the obvious thing to do was to pickle them. This is a very traditional eastern European beet pickle recipe, although my version has less sugar than many recipes.

If you are going to make a smaller batch that you think will be eaten quickly, you could put in up to twice as much pepper and cloves. I find that the flavours of those two spices get stronger and stronger the longer the pickles sit; something to keep in mind. You could also spice up a few jars more than the others, and label them to be eaten first.

This was the first time I've used Cylindra beets. They're the ones that are long - 3" to 5" long, like a stubby carrot. They are recommended for canning and pickling, and the long, cylindrical shape makes them very good for creating fairly evenly sized slices. In spite of how large each beet was, they were quite tender, although I do think they might be a bit less naturally sweet than some other varieties. We might try growing them next year. If you can't get them, I suggest smallish beets for pickling; about 1 1/2" to 2" in diameter. They can be cut into quarters for a nice sized pickle.

The other pickle in the picture is the zucchini Bread and Butter pickles we made earlier this summer. At the time I didn't know what I would think of adding Jalapeno chiles and hot chile flakes to them, but I can now report back: delicious!

6 500-ml jars
about 2 hours, not including time to cool the beets

Pickled Beets
Beets & Brine:
3 quarts beets
3 cups vinegar
3 cups beet cooking water
1/2 cup Sucanat or dark brown sugar

Wash the beets and put them into a large pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for about 40 to 45 minutes, until tender. Let the beets cool. This can be done the day before, and the beets kept in a cool spot. They don't have to be refrigerated if you have a good cool spot for them.

Put the jars into a canner, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel the beets, and keep 3 cups of the cooking water. (Lift it carefully out of the top of the pot - I find however thoroughly I have washed the beets there is always some grit that settles to the bottom during cooking.)

Slice the beets or cut them into bite-sized chunks. Put them in a large pot with the vinegar, beet cooking water and the Sucanat or dark brown sugar. Bring to a boil.

Per Jar:
1/4 teaspoon pickling salt
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 or 4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf

Put the above spices into each hot, sterlized canning jar. Fill the jars with the hot beets and brine. Wipe the rims and seal the jars with lids and rims prepared according to manufacturers directions. Return the jars to the canner and boil them for 10 minutes.

Remove and let cool. Check for seals, label and store for 4 to 6 weeks before opening. Like most preserves, they will keep sealed for a year or so, and must be refrigerated once they have been opened.

Last year at this time I made Chai Pumpkin Pie.


Frances Ranger said...

I made these last year (HUGE hit) and have a batch on the boil right now to can tomorrow. Just wanted to say thanks for all the great recipes!

Ferdzy said...

Thank you, Frances! That's always nice to hear.

Ruth said...

I made pickled beets for the first time this week and this recipe is delicious! I like the method of putting the spices in each jar. I did add 1/4 tsp pickling spices to each pint jar but other than that made the recipe as written.

Ferdzy said...

Hi Ruth; yes I always find if you put the spices in the pot they all want to end up in one jar! I'm glad you tried these and thanks for letting me know.