Beetroot is now being harvested in back yard veggie patches, and by commercial growers, and should be in good supply at your local farmers market at great prices. My neighbour turned up yesterday with five kilos of beets and I immediately decided to turn them into pickled beets and give him a few jars in return. My neighbour was more than happy with this arrangement.
I had recently been reviewing a new preserving book, The Beginner’s Guide to Preserving Food at Home, by Janet Chadwick, and decided to use her simple but delicious recipe on page 147.
The recipe follows below; altered slightly for the amount of beets I was given.
5 kilos of beets
1 litre of cider vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
1. Cut the tops and roots off flush with the beets. Scrub thoroughly.
2. Place the beets on a rack in a large roaster. Cover and bake at 200 degrees C until tender, about one hour for medium-sized beets. Meanwhile pre heat your jars in hot water.
3. In a large saucepan, mix the vinegar, sugar, water and salt. Heat to boiling.
4. When the beets are tender, remove the roaster from the oven and fill with cold water. When cool enough to handle, slip the skins off the beets.
5. Pack the beets, whole or cut in hot jars. Add brine to cover. Leave 1.5cm headspace.Put on new lids and tighten finger tight.
6. Process for 30 minutes once water has returned to the boil. (This is the boiling water bath method.)
7. Cool jars. Check seals. Label and store.
I made a total of 18 jars for the cost of a bottle of vinegar and some sugar. I have found that friends and neighbours are very happy to supply produce, for me to turn into preserves of one kind or another, in exchange for some of the finished product. It is far better than anything available in the stores and even if you have to buy the beets or grow the beets, it still saves you money at the same time as allowing you to eat far superior food.
A final, but in no way the least thing to consider, is the saved land fill space created by making my own rather than buying beetroot in cans from the store.