Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pickled Beets

It's been far too long since I posted last.  I missed it greatly and I'm glad to be back.  After working through several major changes I have found peace and happiness in my cooking projects and running and I can't wait to continue sharing them.  I have a post for you that I wrote a couple of weeks ago for The Local Beet.  In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful produce and you haven't lost too many fruits and veggies in this extreme heat!  This really is the best time of the year: tomatoes are everywhere. :)

I know what you’re thinking: pickled beets are gross. But I promise you, when they’re not purchased in a mystery can where they’re hardly recognizable, they are irresistible. Beets are without a doubt one of my favorite vegetables in the world (artichokes are at the top, no question). They are earthy and complex and warm and perfect on salads. Usually I just throw a couple in foil and roast them for 30 – 45 minutes every week so I can make salads with goat cheese, arugula and walnuts, but these past couple of weeks it has just been way too hot for the oven. If you’re a city dweller I know you’re with me because AC units hardly have the capacity to cool off a bedroom let alone combat the oven. So I offer you pickled beets as an alternative to your standard roasted beets!

You will have to use your stove, but it will make several pint jars which will be enough to keep you oven free for quite some time. The recipe I used to pickle beets is from the most informative book I’ve found thus far: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. The book calls for 10 cups of prepared beets – I just bought a bag of them at the farmers market for $5 and called it a day. Boil beets whole with the tops almost all removed in a large pot covered and cook for about 40 minutes (prepare canning jars while the beets boil; for instructions see my post on Strawberry Jam). When beets are cooked, run them under cool water, remove skins and slice them as you like.
Acquire pickling spice (or make it!) and tie 3 tablespoons in a spice bag. The Spice House is where I got my pickling spice. Combine 2 and a half cups white vinegar, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar OR honey (which I used and I really recommend) and the spice bag. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat heat and stir to make sure the honey dissolves. Boil gently for 15 minutes, remove the spice bag and add beets. Return the mixture to a boil. Ladle the beets into the prepared jars within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Ladle the hot liquid over the beets to cover. Wipe the rim, center the lid and screw the band on; place the jars in canner and process for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and wait 5 minutes to remove the jars. Cool for 24 hours and store.
Once you have achieved this perfection, serve with homemade ricotta and sourdough (as in the picture) or on top of a lovely salad of arugula or romaine. This is such an easy “condiment” to make and it’s so healthy! I find it a delightful alternative to my roasted beets with quite the kick. Try it out – and let me know what you think!

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