I fear I am far more excited than I should be about pickled beets. Particularly on the eve of the August long weekend, when in yesteryears I might be excited over, I don’t know, a houseboating weekend or trip or concert or something. I am excited over beets. I am such a dull person.
But I’ve been wanting to make pickles for decades, and never really got around to buying one of those massive bags of wee lumpy cucumbers. Then one day I admitted to myself that I wasn’t a huge pickle fan, and a friend introduced me to the Saucy Ladies’ spiced pickled beets, and I was instantly hooked. I bought a preserves book off the clearance table of the hotel gift shop in Edmonton (while W tore through all the Indy merchandise) because it had a simple spiced pickled beet recipe in it, and I swore I’d make them and not waste $5. And I did! And now I can go and make them whenever I feel like it, because I know it’s really no big deal. I made pickled beets. Or put them up, or whatever terminology is proper for this kind of earth-shattering achievement. Actually, I shouldn’t pat myself on the back until I taste them; I think they need at least a few days now to pickle.
Dinner was out – again – it seems my restaurant trips come in waves. But we had tickets to the opening night of the Cirque du Soleil production of Corteo, and figured since we already landed a babysitter and were going to bother cleaning ourselves up a bit (it’s rare these days to get me out of PJ pants and flip flops) we might as well take advantage and go out to a real restaurant together, like real live grown-ups. So we had samosas and the requisite butter chicken (not as earth-shattering as I’ve heard – the gaudy blue Taj on McLeod Trail is better) and Lamb Goa Curry and naan; I thought this time I’d spare you photos of food I don’t have the recipes for anyway.
It doesn’t matter anyway, because you’ll be busy pickling beets.
Simple Spiced Pickled Beets
(adapted from Put a Lid on It!)
I don’t use measurements here because really you can pickle as many beets as you like, and the brine is made from equal parts white vinegar and sugar. Whole spices are put in each jar, so those numbers will depend on the jars you use.
Small beets, as many as you want to pickle (the recipe suggests 10-12)
white vinegar (the recipe suggests 2 cups)
white sugar (the recipe suggests 2 cups)
coarse pickling salt
whole allspice berries
Boil the whole beets in a large pot of water for half an hour or roast them wrapped in foil for a little longer, or until they are tender. Let them cool, then peel them.
Keep them whole or slice them or cut them into chunks into your clean, hot jars (I just run them through the dishwasher to disinfect them and get them good and hot). Put a cinnamon stick (or half one, if they are long), a couple allspice berries and a few cloves into each jar. Sprinkle each with 1/2 tsp. of pickling salt.
On the stovetop, heat equal parts white vinegar and sugar and bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar completely and get it nice and hot. Pour over the beets, leaving about 1/2″ headspace between the beets and liquid and the top of the jar. Seal.