Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Spiced Pickled Beets

On a particularly frigid day in NYC, I made my way to the farmers market and spotted these lovely looking beets. It was so cold all I wanted to do was race home and lock myself inside for the remainder of the day! I did just that, and it turned out to be the perfect opportunity to pickle my beets. 

These pickled beets are wonderful right out of the jar or in a salad. The aromatic spices give them such a wonderful flavor, a perfect treat for the winter months. These would make great gifts around the holidays, and seeing as I've yet to send my family all of their Christmas presents, I think I'll be sneaking a jar into their box I'm sending home. My dad will be overjoyed and my mom will reel in disgust. That is the way with beets: you either love 'em or hate 'em! 

Adapted from Ellie Topp & Margaret Howard, The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving 

2 1/2 lb. fresh beets
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 cup red vinegar (5% acidity)
1/3 cup reserved beet water
16 whole cloves
16 whole allspice berries
16 whole black peppercorns
2 large cinnamon sticks (about 4-inches long)
2 tsp. pickling salt (see notes below)
4 pint jars suitable for canning 

Thoroughly wash beets and remove the root and stem end. Place beets in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, cover pot and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until just tender when pierced with a fork. Ladle 1/3 cup beet water out of the pot and set aside. Drain beets, remove skins (while the beets are still warm) and cut into large pieces. 

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegars, and beet water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. 

Place 4 cloves, 4 allspice berries, 4 black peppercorns, half a cinnamon stick, and 1/2 tsp. pickling salt into each jar. Pack the beets into the prepared jars. Pour the hot liquid over the beets, leaving a headspace of 1/2-inch. Wipe rims with a clean cloth before placing lids and rings on jars. Process for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. For more detailed information, see my step-by-step guide to canning here.

Yield: 4 pint jars 


  • Most grocery stores don't carry pickling salt, so look for it at specialty food stores or online. Pickling salt differs from other table salts in that it is free of additives that darken food or turn the pickling liquid cloudy (such as iodine and anti-caking agents). In a jiffy, you can substitute pickling salt with kosher salt, but since the size of kosher salt is slightly larger than pickling salt, the measurements will differ when measured by volume. So if using kosher salt for this recipe, use 2 heaping tsp. of kosher salt in place of 2 regular tsp. of pickling salt.

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