Saturday, November 6, 2010

Save the Pickled Beets!

Sometimes, but not so much lately, I worry about foods disappearing.  I know, some foods should disappear, like fried liver and doorstop fruitcakes.  But you know what I mean:  You're savoring a lovely slice of spicy pickled beet and suddenly, without warning, you think, "What if people stopped eating beets?  And farmers stopped growing beets?  And there would be no more pickled beets!"

I'm not saying everyone has episodes of food paranoia like me, but in case the whole worrying-about-food-disappearing thing is due to the cosmic resonance of some underlying potential universal truth, now and again I like to make, and enjoy, pickled beets. And if you do it, too, maybe we'll keep pickled beets alive!

This recipe is easily increased for more beets, and all the ingredients can be played around with according to your taste.  Makes about a quart.  If you put striped or golden beets in with red ones, the whole mixture will be more or less red!

About 6 medium-sized beets, or 12 smaller ones, either red, gold, striped, or a mix
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1 or 2 tablespoons agave nectar or organic sugar (I sometimes use apple juice concentrate)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
A few grinds of black pepper

Wash the beets and either trim the stalks off or leave an inch or so on.  Lay beets on an aluminum foil-covered pan and roast at 350 degrees for an hour or so.  If beets are varying sizes, some may need to be removed before others are done.  Beets should be tender when pierced with a knife.

Alternatively, wrap the beets in aluminum foil and roast for the same amount of time.

Alternatively again, boil the beets in a big kettle of water until they are tender when pierced with a knife.  This is the method I use most often, because the beets peel more easily than they do when roasted.

Cool the beets, and trim off the stems and root ends and any weird spots.  Rub the peelings off (a paper towel works nicely for this) and cut the beets into your preferred shapes ... slices, dices, you call it.  Toss them into a quart jar.  You can have the vinegar and spice mixture already in the jar, or you can toss it in on top of the beets and shake gently.  Store in fridge, turning and tossing jar gently now and then to keep the beets coated in the pickly mixture.  They'll be pickled in about a week. Enjoy without fear.

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