Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Preserving Experiment #5


Prior to this year, I had never eaten one in my life.

I do have a cousin who loves beets.  He talks about them a lot - almost inappropriately so - on Facebook.

They are scary looking.

They look like weird, brightly colored potatoes.  They are dirty.  I expected them to taste dirty.  Not entirely sure why I thought that would be a bad thing... after all I do love potatoes and mushrooms, and I prefer my red wine to taste a little bit like dirt.

They have probably become the favorite vegetable in our house - both the root and the greens.  It's kind of shocking.

Doing some quick research on the interwebs, I learned the following about beets.  Very little of this is from scholarly sources, and if I were grading this from one of my students, it would totally get an F:

Supposedly, the eating of beets can prevent or reverse the following ailments:
  • Acidosis, which leads to acid reflux
  • Cancer
  • Anemia
  • Athersclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries
  • Vericose ceins
  • High blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Liver Problems
  • Kidney and gall bladder diseases
  • Gout
My husband has acid reflux, and I have anemia (and all the women in my family have vericose veins).  Also my body apparently really enjoys getting kidney stones, so I'm pretty excited that I can magically cure these things just by eating beets!  Okay, I don't think it works quite that way, but never-the-less it's good to know that something I like is good for me.

I don't have kids, but I feel like beets would be a good thing to try to feed your kids - as long as they don't know what they are or get to see them ahead of time!  The fact that they are sweet and brightly colored makes me think you could trick a kid into thinking they're candy or something.  Another good thing about beets is that, after you cut them up, it looks like you killed someone in your kitchen - which is always fun.

Apparently the growing season for beets is June through October, so we're just about done.  I wouldn't want to be without this magical vegetable for a full winter, so I'm glad I got this done in time!  I also thought this was my prettiest canning batch yet, and it made me sad to put the finished jars down in the basement where visitors can't admire them.  Next house: display shelf for canning!

I haven't tried these yet, since all the jars closed properly and I still have fresh beets to eat.  I will report back as soon as I do!

Pickled Beets
From the Art of Preserving

  • 1 pound beets (L)
  • 1 white onion, sliced (L)
  • 1 cup cider vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1/4 cup honey (L)
  • 1 tbsp cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves
  • pinch of salt
Have ready hot, sterilized jars and their lids.

Put the beets (whole.  Leave a little bit of stem so all the skin is intact and covering all the beet.  This helps keep the nutrients in) into a large saucepan (if using different colored beets, put each color into their own sauce pan) and add water to cover by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer until the beets are tender, 25-30 minutes.  Drain the beets, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid.

When the cooked beets are cool enough to handle, peel them (once the beets are cool, the skins slide right off - almost like the tomato skins, but not quite as easy)  and then cut into slices 1/4 inch thick.  Divide the beet slices and the onion slices among the jars.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the reserved cooking liquid, vinegar, honey, cardamom, cloves and salt.  Bring just to a boil, then ladle the hot mixture into the jars, evenly distributing the spices and leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Remove any air bubbles.  Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.

Process the jars for 7 minutes in a boiling water bath.  Let the jars stand undisturbed for 24 hours, then set them aside for one week for the flavors to develop.

The jars can be stored in a cool dark place for up to 3 months (so I have to eat them all by Christmas!)

The recipe said this made 4 pints.  I only got two.  I ended up making three different batches, and stored them in half pint and 4 oz jelly jars.  I figure how many pickled beets do I really need at once?

I have to image that these beets would go great in this recipe.  I actually made this salad with fresh, grilled beets, but the pickled beets would go well too.  Cut out the tomatoes, and this could be a great winter salad when all I can get my hands on is greens.

Smoked Salmon and Beet Salad
(this recipe is for one salad)
  • 1 or 2 large handfuls of mixed greens, washed (L)
  • 1 tomato, quartered and cut into slices (optional) (L)
  • 1 small or 1/2 large beet - steamed, grilled, boiled, or pickled, sliced into bite size pieces (L)
  • 4 oz smoked salmon (L-ish.  Okay, this is smoked by Rushing Waters fishery, but not grown there)
  • 1 oz goat cheese - I used a honey goat cheese (L)
  • 2-3 tbsp Honey Basil Vinaigrette, or to taste 
Put greens in a bowl.  Top greens with other stuff.  Cheese can be crumbled or left in one chunk for presentation purposes as I did in the picture.

Honey Basil Vinaigrette (from this post, except modified to be basil instead of thyme!)
Makes about 1 cup
  • 3 tbsp minced shallots (L)
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raw honey (L)
  • 2 tsp fresh basil (L*), minced
  • 1 clove garlic (L), minced
  • 3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

No comments:

Post a Comment