Sunday, June 13, 2010

MollyD's Kitchen in Seattle: Pickled Beets

I'm not cooking much beyond throwing things together, and thus I haven't posted in a while. Then, the other day, I spied some winter beets in the back of our crisper drawer and decided it was time to bite the bullet and do something with them. I considered roasting them as usual, but I usually tire of roasted beets' flavor before they go bad, which seems like a greater waste than leaving them alone in their uncooked potential. Instead I took a cue from a jar of Ikea herring and decided to pickle them, a great way to use a big ol' beet and have it last.

I googled pickled beet recipes and saw several suggestions of cloves, which complement beets' earthy sweetness. Since I recently picked up a small bottle of clove extract (in alcohol, not oil, which would just float on top of the pickling liquid) I ran with the idea, and with the “earthy sweetness” theme in mind I also added some balsamic vinegar.

Initially I wasn't preparing a blog post on this, so I eyeballed and tasted, and the following measurements are entirely guesstimated. You could halve or double it without problem, or use different ratios of balsamic vinegar to mild vinegar to water; it's a pretty mild pickle, so if you want something stronger you can fill the jar to the top with vinegar. Finally, I'm sure whole cloves would work in place of the extract, though I'd use a fair amount to ensure enough flavor extraction that they wouldn't be overwhelmed by the balsamic. Regardless, all of this recipe is flexible and to taste.

Pickled Beets

2 large beets or equivalent in small beets, with any long greens or tail removed
2 T balsamic vinegar
¼ c rice vinegar or white vinegar
½ tsp salt
few drops clove extract
  1. Place beets in pot and cover with water. Bring to boil, then lower to simmer. Go do something else.
  2. Remove beets from pot when knife can be inserted into center without resistance. Let cool, then peel off skin with fingers and, if necessary, a paring knife.
  3. Quarter, then slice into ¼-inch pieces. Place into quart jars.
  4. Add all other ingredients, then water to cover.
  5. Refrigerate and eat over the next few weeks.
So what do you do with pickled beets? Obviously there's salad, but despite the lettuce in our fridge I haven't felt like it. Instead I chopped a few slices along with some of the pickled herring, mixed in mayonnaise (sour cream would be good too), and spread the Swedish-inspired mixture on toast. Today I made a closed tuna melt in the toaster oven (slice of bread + tuna salad + sliced cheese, plus a separate slice of bread), then laid some beets on top of the cheese before closing the sandwich; the mild, soft beets didn't ruin the texture or dominate the flavor, and it was a surprisingly nice combination. Pickled beets are more adaptable than you might think!


1 comment:

  1. Can the beets be roasted in their skin (wrapped in tinfoil) instead of boiled? I have a theory that you'd lose less of the beety juices to the water that way.


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