Beets are a controversial vegetable in our house. We agree on the bottoms, but disagree on the tops. I’m not sure why Peter is so against beet greens, but his dislike for them almost kept me from having the heart to buy enough beets for pickling. Of course he had his revenge by leaving for the East Coast this week with the entire bottom shelf of the fridge covered in beet greens, so I can’t feel too sorry for him. I ate beet greens for breakfast, and I think there will be beet greens every day for the rest of the week. Luckily I have finally found a way to eat them that is perfectly scrumptious: saute onion in olive oil in a heavy pot, add beet greens and cook until nice and wilted, serve in a bowl with plenty of salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
My original pickled beet goal was to make them in every beet color available at the farmer’s market: purple, candy-cane, and yellow. The yellow pickled beets ended up looking a bit like pineapple, especially because of the stray whole black peppercorns floating in the brine (although, to be quite clear, they are not anywhere near as sweet). I have yet to complete phases two and three (purple and candy-cane), but since I happen to have planted beets of exactly those two colors in my garden, it’s only a matter of time before my evil plan prevails.
Pickled Beets (from Canning for a New Generation)
(Makes about 5 pints of pickles)
3 pounds of beets, scrubbed
4 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (or 1 tablespoon whole allspice)
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
See the detailed instructions for canning dilly beans.
To make the pickles: Boil the beets in a pot of water for about 20-30 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork. Put the beets in cold water and pull off the skins, trimming away any weird parts. Quarter the beets, slice them into pieces 1/4 inch thick, and set aside. In a large pot, mix the other ingredients with 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil on high heat. As soon as the brine reaches a boil, add the sliced beets and bring the brine + beets to a simmer.
To can the pickles: As soon as the brine + beets mixture reaches a simmer, take the mixture off the heat and fill the canning jars: first use a slotted spoon to put the beets in the jars and then ladle the hot brine over the beets to cover, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar. Process the filled pint jars in a hot water bath for 30 minutes.