Learning to Preserve 2: Pickled Beetroot

Pickling beetroot is a yearly tradition in my house. My extended family is crazy about the stuff, and I’m pretty fond of it too. Some people might be put off thinking it will be too sour, but I can assure you that my Mum was traumatised by years of really acidic beetroot so her version is nice and mild! I can actually give you a tutorial for this one too, as it is a family method. It’s not technically a recipe though, as I can’t give you proper quantities – veg do vary in volume and density! I’ll just tell you what I did.

First off, pick your beetroot! I had a row from our garden that came out to about a kilo.

the most important thing at this stage is not to cut them! If you get them with the greens on, just wash them and snip off most of the leaves, leaving about an inch of stems. If you cut them they will bleed and make a huge mess through the whole process.

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Next, boil the beets until al-dente. If you have beets of varying sizes like me, you’ll need to drop them in at different times, starting with the large ones and working down to the smallest. Then turn off the heat and let them cool for a while – they will keep cooking a bit.

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After a while (you may have noticed this is not an exact science) you can drain them and run them under cold water so you can handle them. Now comes the messy part.

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Slip the beets out of their skins and pop them straight in the jar, slicing the big ones into bite- or two-bite-sized rounds as you go.

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Your hands will look like this, you just have to accept it and move on! I wouldn’t bother wearing gloves, the stain comes off after a couple of washes. Just don’t touch anything before you get to the sink!

When your jar is full, fill them with a half-vinegar, half-water mix. Then just seal it up!

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These will keep for months. Keep them in a cool dark place until you use them, then once opened, keep them in the fridge. At that point they will last for around one month. You also should leave them for at least a week before you use them to let the beets absorb the vinegar.

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