Wednesday, October 20, 2010

You Can't Beat a Beet!

As I mentioned in the last post, our bimonthly produce haul landed me a couple of pounds of golden beets. I've never pickled a beet before so I turned to Alton Brown and took a few tips from him, notably the idea of roasting the beets before canning them.

I had 2 bunches of beets, about 8 medium sized bulbs. I prepared 4 pint sized jars but it turned out I only needed 3. I started by heating the oven to 400 degrees. I lined a 9"x13" dish with foil and added the following:
about 8 medium beets 
a large onion, roughly chopped
2 sprigs of rosemary
about 2 T olive oil
I placed a piece of foil over the top and baked them for about an hour, until the beets began to soften slightly. I took them out and allowed the beets to cool until they could be handled. I then sliced them about 1/4" thick. While the beets were cooling, I mixed together in a small saucepan:
1 c red wine vinegar
1 c water
1/2 c sugar
2 t kosher salt
I brought this mixture to a boil, dissolving the salt and sugar. Meanwhile, I took each of the sterilized jars and filled them, layering the beets with:
1 med red onion, thinly sliced
I also threw a small sprig of rosemary into each jar. Once each of the jars was tightly filled (I had to press down on the beets a little to pack them in), I added enough of the vinegar mixture to cover the beets. I tightly sealed each of the jars and immersed each back into the boiling water and processed them for 10 minutes.

The pickling did not stop with beets. I spent the rest of the weekend pickling everything from our latest produce order that I could get my hands on! We had a couple of heads of cauliflower, bunches of rainbow carrots, purple bell peppers, banana peppers, onions, garlic and green beans. With these I added pickling spices in different combinations - coriander seeds, brown and yellow mustard seeds, dill weed, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. I ended up with about 8 quarts of pickled veggies!

Next on my hit list are tomatoes. It's been such a bad year in the northwest for tomatoes, however, that I'm not sure if we'll be doing too many of those. I'd also like to try pickling eggs, which I may do first if I can't get my mitts on the tomatoes! We shall see...!

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