Homemade Pickled Beetroots

One of my favourite ways to enjoy beetroot is to pickle them. Pickled beets are delicious in fresh salads but they also offer a taste of warmer weather when the winter sets in again. 

Beets are easy to grow, you can sow the seeds directly into the ground any time between mid April - July for a succession tender tasty roots. Those sown from June onwards can be used for storing in winter. When are about three weeks old, thin out the seedlings, and throw the extra greens into a salad for a little colour and flavour. The roots should be mature enough to harvest when they've been growing for about two months. Harvest when they are the size of a cricket ball. 

To start this recipe, get yourself some beets. If you don't have any in our own garden, hit up the farmers market or your local fruit and vegetable store. Trim off the greens and scrub the roots. Don't worry if you have a mixed size collection. 

Steam or boil the beets either whole (longer cooking time but easier to peel) or in bit-ize-ish chunks (shorter cooking time if you don't care about peeling) until they're tender. Beware that beet juice stains, so use a cutting board that you're not particularly fond of and wear a red shirt!

While the roots are streaming, thinly slice a couple sweet or storage onions for extra flavour. Figure about one medium onion per 4.5KG of pickled beets.

Sterilise enough jars for your desired quantity of pickled beets.

Pack beets and onion into jars. If you cook your beet whole, you will probably need to slice them up a bit to fit them into the jars. 

If you add some spice mix to each jar about 1 tablespoon or 1 teaspoon per pint. Pickling spice is a blend of about 10 different herbs and spices (coriander, peppercorns, crushed bay leaves, chiles, etc.) that tastes great with beets. If you are particularly motivated, you could mix up your own spice medley, adding in accordance with your personal preference. 

The most important factor with pickling brine is that you maintain a ratio of 2 parts vinegar (apple vinegar is best) to 1 cup of water. Pour it into a pot, and set it on medium heat. 

Add honey to the liquid. Honey is not acting as a preservation in this instance, so use your judgement for sweetening. Beets have their own natural sugars, but some people prefer their pickled beets to be very sweet. One cup honey to six cups vinegar/water produces an acidic but subtly sweet pickle. 

Bring your vinegar water honey solution to a rolling boil. ha

Fill your jars with hot brine, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Add jar lids and lightly screw on rings. 

At this point, your pickled beets will be delicious but not shelf stable for the long term. Without canning, you can store them in the refrigerator for a couple months.

After you eat a jar of pickled beets, and all you have left is that gorgeous pink brine, you've got to try pickled beet eggs. Hard boil and peel a few eggs, re-boil the brine and then pour the hot brine over the eggs in a jar, Let it sit in the refrigerator for a day or so. The pink will permeated the white of the egg, so they'll look fabulous and they'll taste great too.

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