Who doesn’t like that beautiful deep burgundy and earthy beauty of beetroot? It is, of course, just wonderful baked and eaten straight from the oven with just salt and pepper BUT it also takes on quite a different taste and usefulness when pickled for further use throughout the year. I particularly love my pickled beetroot preserved with juniper berries which somehow remind me of fragrant evergreen forests, certainly evocative of the wild. I like that..
It really is so simple to pickle beetroot and if you don’t want to go to the extra faff of processing the filled jars in a hot water bath at the end (so you can store them for several months in your larder) then you can always place the jars in your fridge instead and just make sure to use them up within a few weeks.
Once you bake your beetroot save the juice that is in the tin foil, once strained you can store it in the fridge for a few days and use it as a food dye for cakes.
- Several large beetroots, 12 medium or 20+ tiny ones
- 750 ml vinegar (white, malt or pickling)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 dessert spoon black (or mixed) peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon of juniper berries (my own addition just because I love them)
- 1 dessertspoon of mustard seeds (optional)
- 1 bay leaf in each jar (optional)
- Gently wash beetroots and cut some of the stalks and tails off but leave an inch or so of the top and bottom on so they bleed less when cooking
- Place all in a couple of large pieces of tin foil brought together at the top or individually wrap.
- Cook in oven at about 180 C for an hour. Tiny ones less, large ones longer. Bake until tender.
- 20 minutes before the beetroot has cooked place clean washed jars into the oven to sterilise for about 20 minutes.
- You will also need to bring a large deep saucepan of water to a simmer as you will need to process the jars of beetroot after they have been bottled (not everyone does this but for safety I do as it ensures a good vacuum and seal)
- Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle place in water and removed the skin and top and tail. If cooked properly the skin will easily peel away. Rinse and place on non-porous plate or tray.
- Cut into chunks for the medium or large beetroots, tiny ones can be pickled whole.
- In a saucepan place the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, peppercorns and juniper berries (and mustard seeds if you like those)
- Stir and bring to a simmer until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
- Remove jars from oven, fill jars with beetroot leaving 1/2 inch headroom, (add a bay leaf if you like) pour on hot liquid from saucepan.
- Clean jar rims with vinegar then put lids onto hot jars and liquid, finger tight.
- Place in hot water (covered by water) and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Remove safely with jar lifter.
- Set aside and leave undisturbed so the jars create a vacuum and the lid depresses. Several hours later you can move the jar.
- Leave to mature for a week before using.
- Makes several small jars or 3 large ones.