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Raw & Fermented Side Dishes

Simple Pickled Beets

Simple Pickled Beets

‘Tis the season for greens, greens, roots, and more greens. This week in our CSA box, we got a lovely bunch of beets, and I picked up several more pounds of them at the farm market too.

There is something about the New Year that has me in the mood for pickled beets.

Beet Nutrition

Although typically a beautiful reddish-purple hue, beets also come in varieties that feature white or golden roots, as well as rings and stripes.

These colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer. Beets are an excellent source of the B vitamin, folate, and a very good source of manganese and potassium.

They are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. Beets are also regarded as an excellent liver cleansing, detoxifying, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory food.

The main ingredient in the traditional eastern European soup, borscht, beets are delicious eaten raw, but are more typically cooked or pickled. Raw beet roots have a crunchy texture that turns soft and buttery when they are cooked.

Beet leaves are delicious and can be prepared raw or cooked as you would use spinach or Swiss chard. They are incredibly rich in nutrients, concentrated in vitamins and minerals as well as carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lutein/zeaxanthin.

And when beets are fermented (see recipe below), they become little powerhouses of nutrition!

Related: How to Grow Beets

Beet Selection and Storage

Choose small or medium-sized beets whose roots are firm, smooth-skinned and deep in color. Smaller, younger beets may be so tender that peeling won’t be needed after they are cooked.

Avoid beets that have spots, bruises or soft, wet areas, all of which indicate spoilage. Shriveled or flabby should also be avoided as these are signs that the roots are aged, tough and fibrous. While the quality of the greens does not reflect that of the roots, if you are going to eat them, look for greens that appear fresh, tender, and have a bright green color.

Store beets unwashed in the refrigerator crisper where they will keep for two to four weeks. Cut the majority of the greens and their stems from the roots, so they do not pull away moisture away from the root. Leave about two inches of the stem attached to prevent the roots from “bleeding.”

Store the unwashed greens in a separate plastic bag where they will keep fresh for about four days.

Pickled or sour beets are a traditional fermented, probiotic food that improves digestion by stimulating stomach acid and bile, and supports your immune system by replenishing the beneficial bacteria in your gut. They are easy to make and hard to keep around!

Simple Pickled Beets
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Ingredients
  1. 5 pounds beets, peeled (red, golden or striped. Don't use golden or striped beets with red ones unless you want all the beets to turn red)
  2. 2 Tbsp. sea salt
  3. 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
Instructions
  1. Thoroughly clean and sterilize the container and utensils you will be using.
  2. Wash, drain and then cut your beets into disks, halves or quarters.
  3. Optionally, you can grate, slice, shred or chop the beets into a non-metal bowl. You can do this by hand or with a food processor. Pieces should be about the size of a quarter, or smaller. (I prefer a coarse shred.)
  4. With a wooden spoon, mix the grated beets with sea salt, to taste.
  5. Add caraway seeds either whole or crushed. Crushed caraway seeds give a more intense flavor.
  6. Pack the beets firmly and evenly into a clean crock, glass jar or enamel container until liquid comes out of the beets freely. Leave 2 inches of room at the top of a jar or 4-5 inches of room at the top of a crock.
  7. Make sure juice covers the beets completely! Once beets are immersed, place a plate on top of the beets (if using a crock) and a large freezer bag filled with water on top of the plate. (I use 2 large bags, one inside the other so that if the bag breaks, it will not water down the beets into a tasteless mess.)
  8. If you are using canning jars, place a couple small, heavy rocks (boil them first) into 2 doubled-up sandwich bags, and use that to weigh down the beets inside the jar. Latch or screw the lid down loosely.
  9. The beets must be completely submerged so no air can get in and contaminate the them with unwanted yeasts or molds!
  10. Put jar or crock in a cool area where the temperature will be around 75 degrees. Fermentation will begin within a day, depending upon the room temperature. If temperature too high or too low, the beets may not ferment and could spoil!
  11. Cover the container with a clean towel and check after 2 days, releasing some of the carbon dioxide that has built up inside. Scoop any scum off the top (it is harmless), and repack. Check every 3 days and repeat as necessary.
  12. After 2 weeks, sample the beets to see if they taste ready to eat. The flavor will continue to mature for the next several weeks. Refrigerating the beets will extend their shelf life.
  13. Enjoy!
Tools
  1. Mason jar with an airlock fermenting lid (Where to find fermenting lids online)
  2. Ceramic or enamel bowl (Metal and fermentation don't mix!)
Small Footprint Family http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/

37 Comments

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  • I have been given a crock that my husband’s grandmother [they called her Meme’re’ {pronounced mem- A}] made wine with in her laundry room back in the late 20’s to the late 80’s. I bought a 5 gallon pail of beets yesterday at a local farm for $18 and am raring to go! I will return here and tell you my results with this recipe. I had hoped to find more 1st hand experience with this specific method. I intend to have some in put for others who find this website like I did…

  • Hi! My Mom used to make picked beets, but she used store canned beets, vinegar, sugar, and a bit of salt.

    How would these compare taste wise? I would love to make some and I want to add more probiotic foods to our diet, but I need to know what to expect before I try these on the family. Thanks for any information you can give me.

    I found your blog through The Time Warp Wife Link up.

    • I’ve never had beets like the ones your mom made, so I can’t compare. These pickled beets are not sweet with sugar, though they are sour and fresh tasting.

  • I’m confused about the ‘juice’ you refer to in the recipe. Did I miss something? Do you mind clarifying? Thanks.

  • My grandmother LOVES pickled beets and can no longer make them herself. I plan on filling a plot in my garden with beets just for her so I can make her her beloved pickled beets ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    I’ve been enjoying your blog! You have a lot of great information ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’d like to invite you to join in my blog hop tomorrow, Get Real Frugal Friday, if you are interested ๐Ÿ™‚

    http://realfoodrealfrugal.com/category/get-real-frugal-friday/

    Blessings!
    Susan

  • I Love beets! We have such stinky ground in my neighborhood, I wish it was better to grow veggies. I need to expand into pots!
    Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! ๐Ÿ™‚

    On the Gluten Free Fridays tab we have new badges for you to display on your blog. There are a few different choices for you. There are varying sizes as well. If you’ve had a featured recipe in the past, feel free to grab one of those badges as well! They are free for the taking; use as you wish! Thanks for supporting our GF community and spreading the word!

    Thanks for linking back to the Gluten Free Fridays post!

    See you at the link up this week!

    Cindy from vegetarianmamma.com

  • Well, I simply LOVE pickled beets. I like to use beets to pickle hard boiled eggs…it was my Gramie’s favorite recipe. Just LOVE it! I am also a huge fan of beets overall, so I appreciate this post and all your great nutritional information. I will be sharing this post on Allergy-Free Wednesdays this week.

    Be Well,
    –Amber

  • I love pickled beets! But, I have never made them before…or grown them for that matter. I attempted it last year, but one of my children may have been overexcited and pulled them when there were only greens ๐Ÿ™‚

  • We grow beets and just love them. Pickled beets are one of my favorites, and your recipe looks great. Thank you so much for celebrating TWO YEARS with FULL PLATE THURSDAY, I appreciate your visit!
    Come Back Soon
    Miz Helen

  • I didn’t realize how much I loved beets until I had them raw and roasted as an adult. (Those canned beets I choked down as a child tainted my view!) I’ve never thought of pickling them. Thanks for sharing this with Raw Foods Thursdays!

    • That’s cool! Sugar beet juice (which is GMO unfortunately) melts ice at a lower temperature than salt brine, making it more effective at de-icing roads without the harmful effects of salt on cars, grass, plants and pet feet.

  • This is a great post! Very informative, thank you! I will be trying this soon, as I just ordered a fermenting jar from Cultures for Health ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I too love beets. I pickled some about 2 months ago and over time, they’ve gotten to be delicious. However, I have one question – they have gradually gotten very, very syrupy to the point where now, the syrup has become gelatinous and almost gooey. Is this normal and safe? They do still taste good, I was just wondering if it is normal. Thanks!

    • Thanks for commenting Brook! Beets have a lot of sugar in them andโ€”without being thereโ€”it sounds like you’ve got quite a concentration of fermented juice at the bottom, which is safe, but might be strong tasting. But always check the smell and never eat any ferment that tastes “off.”

      Best,
      Dawn @ Small Footprint Family

  • Oooh.. what a great post! I have a bag of beets in my crisper that I pulled out of my garden about a month ago. I was thinking about putting borscht on the menu this week. Now I think I will ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’m having “beet envy” right about now! Our weather has been horrible and the farmers have had to replant the beets twice. I’m thinking we won’t get any this year, which would be a bummer.

  • I love beets! I try and eat fermented beets at least once a week, but one of my favorite ways to eat beets is borscht. We use the Joy of Cooking recipe and add finely sliced skirt steak (or other cheap cut). Add a dollop cultured sour cream…yum!
    It freezes really well, too, so we usually make a giant pot of it and have plenty for later. In fact, you’ve inspired me to make some this weekend :).

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