Why do beets always seem to accumulate at the back of my refrigerator? I get them regularly from my CSA and I love them. The rest of my family, however, seems less than enthusiastic about their earthy flavor. That said, there is one recipe that everyone seems to back – pickled beets. (It must be all that sugar and spice). I’ve made large batches of them in the past. I would pickle and then can them in a hot water bath. Given this new phenomenon of beets finding their way into the recesses of my fridge, however, I’ve learned that it’s much more practical to pickle them in small batches. I make just enough to eat, and then I can skip the whole canning process altogether.
I have no time for pickled beets with no complexity or depth of flavor. You see, I’m all about the spice. Some picklers just chuck their spices into the juice and leave them there, in the jar with the pickles. I don’t, but prefer to neatly wrap my spices in some cheesecloth, which I then remove just before storing. I do this because the spices tend to stain the beets when they’re left in the jar. Also, they create strong, uneven pockets of flavor. Yuk!
Beets need to be baked or boiled before pickling so that they become lovely and soft. I always bake mine because much of their bright color is lost in the water when they’re boiled. Furthermore, when they’re baked there’s no need to try peeling off tough skins. They’ll just slide right off. If you’re unsure of how to prep your beets for pickling, check out my post on How To Make Baked Beets. There are easy, step-by-step instructions with lots of photos.
If you, too, find a mob of beets hiding in the back of your refrigerator, be sure to check out my other beetalicious recipes:
More beautiful beet recipes are on the way this Fall including a Pickled Beet and White Turnip Salad and Beet Hummus! Stay tuned…
- 1 bunch of red beets (about 1 pound)
- ½ C thinly sliced white onions
- 1 piece of cheesecloth
- 1 piece of butcher's twine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 allspice berries
- ¼ tsp whole grain mustard seeds
- 1 C white vinegar
- ½ C water
- ¾ C organic cane sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- Cook beets by cleaning, wrapping in foil and baking in a 400º oven for 45 min to 1½ hours, depending on the size of the beets. They are done cooking when they begin to feel soft when you squish them (they're hot - use an oven mitt). Allow to cool for about an hour before you begin the pickling process. If you're in a hurry you can also find precooked beets in the refrigerator section of many grocery stores.
- Make a spice pouch to flavor your pickling juice by doubling over a piece of cheesecloth, placing your cinnamon stick, whole cloves, allspice berries, and mustard seeds in the middle. Bring the corners of the cheesecloth together and tie with butcher's twine.
- To make the pickling juice, in a large saucepan combine white vinegar, water, organic cane sugar, salt, and spice pouch. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- While the pickling juice is simmering, peel and rinse the cooked beets and cut into ⅛ inch slices. Also thinly slice your white onions.
- After the pickling juice has simmered for 5 minutes add the sliced beets and onions to the saucepan and bring back up to a simmer, then remove from the heat.
- Allow the beets to cool, remove the spice pouch, and pour the pickled beets into a glass jar. Store covered at the back of your fridge for up to one month, but I doubt they'll last that long!