Monday, March 6, 2023

Pickled Beetroot


The secret ingredient which sets this Beetroot Pickle recipe 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 pickled 4 large beetroot and finished up with two large jars of Pickled Beetroot. The quantity of pickling liquid was the perfect amount to fill the jars and cover the beetroot.  The jars need to be wide mouthed to accommodate beetroot slices, if slices are what you prefer, over wedges. I promise you that after making Pickled Beetroot and tasting it, you will never want to eat commercially canned beetroot again. However, having said that, I always keep a couple of tins of beetroot in my pantry just in case, as an Aussie steak sandwich or hamburger just isn't the same without a layer of beetroot. 

The Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is an amazingly versatile vegetable. It can be boiled, steamed, baked, grated fresh, pickled and eaten hot, cold or raw. As a shortcut for cooking, you can buy beetroots at the supermarkets already cooked in vacuum sealed packets. And how about the rich, red startling colour, it brings a pop of colour to any plate. Beets look and taste wonderful in many types of salads, both cooked and raw. The early Greeks only ate the leaves, which is a reminder to us modern cooks that the whole vegetable is edible. The story goes that the Ancient Romans considered the beetroot to have Aphrodisiac qualities. 

It's a rewarding vegetable to grow in the home vegetable patch, as even if the beetroots don't grow that large, mine never do, the leaves can be picked frequently for salads while the beetroot is growing under the ground. Smaller beetroots are sweeter and less likely to be woody. A raw salad of beetroot is best made from the smaller ones, to savor the sweetness of them, and raw beetroots will naturally have more health benefits than cooked beetroots.
Beetroots are available all year round, but it's natural season is from Winter to late Spring. This is a reminder to me to think about planting some beetroots very soon. To buy it at its best, I like to buy it with the leaves still attached. The vitality of the leaves is the best indicator of the beetroot's freshness, and you are getting two vegetables for the price of one. The fresh leaves are edible, and even though the beetroot is loaded with essential nutrients, so are the leaves, even more so from being green and exposed to the sun. The fresher the leaves the better, and then if they are and if you have a lot of them, you can cook them as you would fresh silver beet. I love cooking silver beet in a hot pan with butter, freshly ground black pepper and a generous grating of fresh nutmeg.

I wrote a post about pickling beetroots 5 years ago. Here is an updated version of the recipe, with photos taken this week when I did some more pickling. 

Let's Pickle:
4 large beetroots, washed but not peeled.

Pickling Liquid:

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

Preparing the beetroot for pickling:

Care needs to be taken when cleaning beetroot. Cut off the leaves a couple of centimetres above the root for later use, clean up any blemishes, and leave a small part of the stalk intact. Don't peel them or cut into them at this stage as the red juice will bleed into the water. A gentle wash will remove any residual dirt from the root, after all they are a root vegetable.

Cook in lightly salted water for 20 minutes. This depends on the size of the beetroot. Mine took close to an hour this time because they were large, which suits pickling. Don't be tempted to pierce the beetroot with a skewer to test if they are cooked as this can result in them bleeding as well. Instead, take a beetroot from the water and let it cool slightly in a colander, and then gently squeeze it. If it gives a little it is cooked. 

Cool the beetroot and then remove the skin using a knife, but some of the skin will just rub off in your hand. My preference is to slip off the skins by rubbing them gently. Use gloves if you don't want pink hands at the end of this. Lemon juice will remove any pink stains on the hands depending on how many you have handled. I recommend that you use gloves.

Slice the beetroot or cut into wedges or julienne strips. Slices should fit neatly into a jar and are a great addition to a homemade steak or mince burger. Beetroot wedges will look more impressive at a Dinner Party served in an attractive bowl.

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 the bottles 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 5 minutes. Taste it to ensure it is to your taste. Strain the liquid then to remove all the seeds. I do as I am careful not to eat any tiny seeds however the seeds will sink to the bottom of the pickling mixture. The pickling spices always look lovely in bottles of pickled vegetables.
  3. This will make 500 ml of pickling liquid.

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. However, I couldn't wait and opened a jar after a week and the beetroot tasted delicious.
  5. After you open the jars for the first time, store them in the refrigerator after that.

It's unfortunate that we tend to take the humble beetroot somewhat for granted, but it's potential on our dinner table is enormous. I hope this has inspired you to buy some raw Winter beetroots and be creative with them. However, beetroot is available all year round so we aren't limited to pickling them just in Winter.


Warm wishes



  1. Wish my husband eat beets...I adore fresh roasted beets. Have never tried the pickled one though.

    1. Angie he might like this pickled beetroot. it's quite aromatic.

  2. Oops I missed this comment section and sent you an email. Please disregard the email as I am going to ask you the same question here. Firstly thank you for your many inspiring recipes which I so enjoy. My question, when you make the pickled beetroot do you use wine vinegar or distilled vinegar? Looking forward to your reply, Many thanks, Merle

    1. Hi Merle, I just use plain white distilled vinegar for this recipe. Thanks for your very kind words. x

  3. i think we aussies like our beetroot more than most :) I like those vacuum packed ones as they are so handy and useful. What's a hamburger without beetroot? :=)

    1. Exactly Sherry, when we buy a burger the first thing we check for is that it has beetroot, hee, hee.

  4. I have to say I have never tried beetroot. I'm sure I would like pickled and may give it a shot this summer.

    1. Lori, I would love you to give it a try. It's an essential in the Aussie pantry.

  5. I love pickled beetroot and would never have thought to use cinnamon in the pickling liquid. I am going to try that for sure :)

    1. Thanks Tandy, the cinnamon really gives the pickle a lovely flavour.

  6. Mark and I were just talking about pickled beets. (Really!) I got beet greens at the market and there was a cute little beet attached to one plant. He asked when they were going to come into the market -- because he wants some good old pickled beets. Got notification that they are starting this weekend and here is your recipe! Perfect timing!

    1. David, thanks so much, and love the timing. We enjoyed these pickled beetroots so much, the cinnamon brings to them a unique almost Eastern flavour. beautiful. I hope you like the pickle.


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