Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pickled beetroot


An early trip to the local market in wet, windy conditions, and I arrive home with all locally grown produce. Because of the wet weather, and the temporary relocation of the market stalls to an uncovered area, only the local, noncommercial growers seem to be present today, making it much easier to sift through what is grown locally, versus what the larger commercial suppliers have sourced from down south. There is so much more transparency about what we are buying and eating, if food can be sourced locally, and isn't packaged.

The secret ingredient which sets this pickle apart in flavor and intensity is the cinnamon stick. All the flavors will develop in the jars over the next couple of weeks resulting in a very aromatic and tasty beetroot pickle. I only finished with two jars of pickle, because the the beetroot weren't very large this time. However, there was enough pickling mix for four jars. Your jars will need to be wide mouthed to accommodate the beetroot slices.

I promise you that after making Pickled Beetroot and tasting it, you will never buy commercially canned beetroot again.

Let's pickle:


4 large beetroot

Pickling Liquid:
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cracked pepper or peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon mixed spices (can include 1/2 tsp celery seed, 1/2 teas. mustard seed)
2 whole cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp salt

Preparing the beetroot for pickling:
  1. Cut off the leaves and clean up any blemishes. Don't peel them or cut into them at this stage as the red juice will bleed into the water. Wash the beetroot completely and cook in lightly salted water for 20 to 30 minutes. This depends on the size of the beetroot. If a cooking skewer passes cleanly through the beetroot then they are cooked.
  2. Cool the beetroot and then remove the skin using a knife, but some of the skin will just rub off in your hand. Use gloves if you don't want pink hands at the end of this.
  3. Slice the beetroot, or cut into wedges or julienne strips.Slices should fit neatly into a jar, and are a great addition to a  steak burger. Beetroot wedges will look more impressive at a Dinner Party.
Sterilise your bottles:
  1. This is most important. Everything you work with must be warm to hot.
  2. If the bottles have already been just washed in the dishwasher that should be enough, or for safety's sake place them in a preheated oven at 130 deg. Celsius for 20 minutes as well. I place a tea towel on a biscuit tray, and lay the bottles and the lids on the tray, making sure they don't touch each other.
  3. If they haven't been recently washed or sterilised, wash them in hot soapy water, carefully removing any traces of former contents, rinse in clean water, and then sterilise them in the oven as mentioned in no. 2.
  4. Never place hot pickling mixture into cold bottles or they may crack.

Preparing the Pickling Liquid:
  1. Place the pickling mix ingredients i.e. (everything except the beetroot) in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  2. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste it to ensure it is to your taste. Strain it then to remove all the seeds, however they will sink to the bottom of the pickling mixture.
Final steps:
  1. Pack the beetroot into your hot sterilised jars and top up with the vinegar mixture.
  2. If bubbles appear, just keep packing down the beetroot slices with a spoon until the bubbles disappear.
  3. Seal the bottles and keep on your kitchen bench for a couple of days or pack them away in a cool place.
  4. They will be at their best to eat after a couple of weeks after maturing in the jar, and up until three months.
  5. After you open the jars for the first time, store them in the frig after that.

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