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Traditional spices accent pickled beets

The new book from an Applegate author proves you can make vinegar from beets. And of course, you can make beets from vinegar — pickled beets, that is.

The vinegar specified in this recipe is wine, one of the easiest types to make at home, according to Kirsten Shockey’s “Homebrewed Vinegar.” And vinegar pickles are one of the easiest forms of preservation. This one incorporates traditional spices for a flavor profile that complements beets’ natural sweetness.

Tribune News Service photo

Traditional Spiced Beets

6 pounds small beets (6 to 8 bunches)

2 cups wine vinegar, white or red

2 cups water

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoons salt

3 inches cinnamon stick

5 whole cloves

5 allspice berries

1/2 pod star anise

Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. Trim the beet greens to 1 inch above root, but leave root’s skinny “tail” intact to prevent bleeding. Boil beets whole in unsalted water until a skewer pierces them easily, for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on size.

Meanwhile, prepare syrup. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice and star anise; bring to a boil. Turn off heat and set aside to steep.

When beets are tender, drain and plunge them into ice water. Slip them out of their skins, tidying up root and stem ends with a knife as necessary. Cut beets into quarters and pack them snugly into 4 prepared (clean and sterile) pint jars.

Ladle hot syrup into jars, straining it through a small, fine-mesh sieve to capture aromatics. Gently shake jar as you fill it to settle beets. Leave 1/2 inch headspace. Run a skewer or other thin implement around inside to release air pockets. Seal jars and process in a boiling-water bath for 30 minutes. Allow to cure at least a week before opening.

Makes 4 pints.

Recipe from “Saving the Season” by Kevin West.