Sunday, August 21, 2011

Garnet Beet Pickles

"The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious."  Tom Robbins 




Beets were not a favorite of mine as a child.  Growing up in the 70's in the Midwest, my mom would regularly serve beets out of a tin can as a side for dinner.  Just plain ole' yuck.  I don't think I could eat those beets today, no matter what.  However, I came across this delicious beet pickle recipe that I decided to give a try as an homage to my mom several years ago.  They were delicious!  I got the garnet beets at our Good Neighbor farmers store.   Small, firm, and round with the most beautiful deep purple color, I could not resist putting up a couple of quarts.  These pickled beets are nothing like what comes out of a tin can;   no mushy, bland, bitterness to these beets.  They are perky with a bite of spice and a beautiful garnet red color.   If you think you don't like beets, I am tellin' ya to give these a try.  You will be a convert.  Beets now, borscht later?!?


Ingredients:


Enough small beets to pack 6-8 quart jars, trimmed
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon allspice
2 cups sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups beet juice saved from when you cook the beets


Instructions:


Begin, by washing the beets really well.  Do not peel them at this point, as the skin adds to the taste of the beet juice we will be making from them to add to the recipe later.


Put all the beets in a large, heavy kettle with enough water to cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, until tender.  Remove the beets from the juice.  Put them in a colander in your sink and begin to slip the skins off.  I like to cut the root end of the beet off at this point as it makes slipping the skins off a bit easier.  Warning, your hands will turn the most beautiful purplish red color.  No worries, pretend its a henna tattoo.  It will wash off fairly quickly.  You can to go to work the next day with tattoo free hands.  Or you might try wearing rubber gloves to do this step.  I've tried both ways and prefer to just get it done sans gloves.


Put the cloves, cinnamon stick, and allspice in a small cheesecloth bag with the string tied or on a piece of clean white cloth folded and tied at the top.  


Place the spice bag, sugar, vinegar, and beet juice into a kettle and boil 5 minutes.


Add the beets and simmer another 5 minutes.  


Remove the spice bag.  Pack your clean, hot, sterilized jars with the beets, then pour the beet juice over the beets to a 1/2 inch headspace in the jars.  Place new lids and clean rings onto your jars.


Process your beets in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes, but begin the timer as soon as you put the jars into your canner.


Enjoy!  These beets are so delicious they can stand alone as a side dish, be part of a chef salad, snacked on from the jar with a spoon....


Original recipe is from Farm Recipes and Food Secrets from the Norske Nook, Helen Myhre and Mona Vold.



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