Harvest Series: Pickled Beets
A breeze weaves through the crisp evening air. Autumn is around the corner, creeping closer with each new day. With the acknowledgement that the dawn of a new season is fast approaching it is time to consider preserving what this summer has produced before the frost settles in.
A garden is quite an incredible thing. With little care and equal parts rain, a seed transforms into a vegetable and suddenly, the cultivated patch of land is alive with vines, roots and leaves. Seven acres of land provides a tremendous backdrop for a garden. The beets were especially plentiful this year, raw with the essence of the earth. I set out to bottle them up and capture their essence in jars. Today, I extend another tradition that was shared with me - a relatively simple Beet Pickle recipe. It's magical, the way a few aromatic spices and vinegar preserve these colourful gems, enhancing their vibrant burgundy hue, transforming them into pickles.
Rose's Pickled Beets:
This recipe is comprised of two components, a syrup and a spice.
You will need: approximately 4 medium to large fresh beets; a metal loose tea steeper; and 2 x 500 ml mason jars with snap lids and sealer rings.
Wash the beets and 1) remove the skins or, 2) place the beets with the skin intact in boiling water for about 10 minutes. The skin will become soft and is easy to peel off. Submerse the beets in cold water and peel off the skins.
I prefer the boil and peel method because it softens the beets and gives me enough time to prepare the syrup. Once the skins are discarded, cut into midsize chunks.
Wash the jars and lids and set aside. Mason jar companies offer tips on preparing jars for canning.
- 2 Cups white vinegar
- 2 Cups water
- 1 1/2 Cups white sugar
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 tsp cloves (whole)
- 1 tsp allspice (whole)
- 1 tsp mustard seed
In a large pot, make the syrup by combining the vinegar, water and sugar. With the exception of the cinnamon, place the spices in the metal tea steeper and seal. Add the steeper and cinnamon stick directly to the syrup and boil for 5 minutes. Now, it is recommended that you set the syrup and spice medley aside overnight and let it stand. I've been known to move along into the next step without waiting.
Bring the syrup and spices to a boil, add cut beets and boil for approximately 15 minutes, allowing for the liquid to penetrate the beets which will turn the liquid to a stunning burgundy colour. Remove the spice steeper and cinnamon, fill the jars with beets, and top up with liquid. Place the snap lid on the top of the jar and seal immediately by tightening the ring around the jar. Since the liquid is hot, you should not have to hear a 'pop' sound that should confirm that the jar has sealed properly. For information on proper sealing, visit any mason jar company site or search safe canning practices.
Wait at least six weeks to allow them to cure before opening the jars.
Now what to do with them? Add them to a cheese plate, charcuterie (char-cu-te-rie) board or a salad.
The most cherished moments in my life are those spent with my incredible family and friends. Most gatherings both planned and impromptu are accompanied by food, and pickled beets are often leveraged to create a board complete with cheese, nuts, pickles and cured meat (sans pate). There are several sources of fine inspiration for platters and places from which one can procure great ingredients for the composition of a board or cheese plate, including the farmer's market or a grocery store. One of my favourite spots to pick up delectable goodies in Saskatoon is Ingredients Artisan Market.
When visiting different cities, I am often inclined to pass up a large dinner in favour of a charcuterie board, accompanied by wine. If you are in Saskatoon, I will save you the effort of seeking out a good board and suggest visiting Flint. You can create your own platter by selecting from an assortment of savoury meats, fine cheeses and delicious sides. It is with great anticipation that I await the opening of the Heights on 2nd Avenue to try their board. It is sure to be delicious.