I’m pretty good at keeping our fermentation crock full and busy so that we never run out of probiotic-rich veggies. But sometimes I just crave pickles, the old school kind that, if you remembered they were there, could bring a really nice acidic balance to rich meals.
I like sweet pickled beets, in fact one of my Grandmothers used to make them and bring them over for Sunday night dinner when we were growing up. It’s the only way we really ate beets, and I remember I could probably eat an entire jar myself (impressive, I know).
Here is the thing that my adult (sort of), nutritionally-minded brain is thinking about these days: why do we always make sweet things sweeter? Marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, maple syrup roasted squash, sweet pickled beets, does this really make sense? Obviously it does to many people, or those concepts wouldn’t exist, but I thought it might be a good idea to take already sweet beets and balance them out by making them into dill pickles (just like classic cucumber pickles). And guess what? They’re really good!
Also! How many times have you bought beets and just let them roll around in your veg drawer until there was visible mold on them and then finally throw them into your compost with a sigh of relief at not having to think about them any more. Me too. I do love them, but they require some love and attention to bring them to life and aren’t always the first vegetable I gravitate towards.
With a little effort though, they become extremely convenient and truly interesting and delicious in a non-dirt way. Don’t peel them (nutrients/lazy), just roast them and slice them into the shapes you think you’ll get the most use out of (dice them up for salad, wedges for snacking on/dipping, sliced for sandwiches/wraps).
Pack them into jars with some fresh friends (dill, garlic, chili peppers if you’re married to my husband) and pour some raw apple cider vinegar infused with pickling spices over top. It’s really, shockingly easy. No canning process (which is for some reason hard to do if you’re slightly dyslexic) just put them in your fridge, eat them, feel your blood get big and strong, your salads get punchy and red, your crudités platter get sassy and interesting and your reluctant feelings towards beets change to true love (or at least happy confusion).
The best part is that everything in that jar is usable. The vinegar is still raw apple cider vinegar only now it’s purple. Use it anywhere that requires vinegar (salad dressing, hummus, this cream cheese replacement), and add all of that nutrient-rich purple pigment to unsuspecting dishes. The pickled garlic and dill are still good too; add them to dressings or dips.
The beets are good just plain, or sliced up into salads (so good when you think you don’t have any salad veg!), intermingled within the layers of our Avocado Caprese Salad, fanned out on Sweet Potato Toast (with this Lemon Dill Spread), scattered on top of hummus (or puréed into), to add some colour and vibrance to a nut-based cheese platter, or to top off a rich Mushroom & Lentil Veggie Burger.
I still think you should ferment your veggies (if you haven’t yet tried it, this Beet/Cabbage Sauerkraut is a good pace to start) but this is a nice change, and a fun and healthy weekend food adventure that you don’t have to wait four weeks to enjoy.
- 4-5 bunches of beets (about 1.5-2 kg)
- 1 litre Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1-2 Tbsp Sea Salt
- 2 tsp Whole Coriander
- 2 tsp Dill Seed
- 2 tsp Mustard Seed
- ½ tsp Turmeric powder
- ½ tsp Black Peppercorns
- 10 sprigs of Fresh Dill
- 12 Garlic Cloves, peeled
- Preheat the oven to 350*F
- Trim the tops off of the beets (reserve them for another use -juicing, steaming, adding to soup etc) and wash the beets well (don't peel them).
- Spread them out in a couple of casserole-style dishes, add an inch of water to the bottom, cover with foil (or a lid) and let roast/steam for 60-75 mins or until you can poke them with a knife and it comes out easily. (if they are a little bit on the raw side that's ok, they will still pickle, but traditionally they are cooked all the way through)
- Meanwhile, in a small pot or pan bring to a simmer the dry spices, salt and as much vinegar as it takes to cover the bottom of the pot/pan.
- Simmer for a few minutes (don't let it boil dry), make sure the salt has dissolved and add to a measuring cup/pitcher with the rest of the vinegar (so that it's ready to pour).
- Once the beets are cooked and have cooled enough to touch, cut them into wedges, dice them or slice them and pack them into some mason jars (you will fill 3-4 of the 1 liter/quart ones) with the fresh dill and garlic cloves.
- Mix the vinegar well to disperse the spices and pour over the beets in the jars (top up with more vinegar if you need to)
- Store in your fridge and let pickle at least overnight before using. These keep for several weeks in your fridge.
- Make sure use use the pickley garlic in the jars too (anywhere you would use fresh garlic) and the pickling vinegar too, in dressings and dips.
Hi Billy! Good for you for getting into fermenting, it’s the most affordable/delicious way to get your probiotics :) This beet recipe isn’t actually fermented though (the vinegar used is, but it’s just a straight up pickle recipe). I have linked out to a beer sauerkraut recipe in the body of the blog though if you wanted to try fermenting beets (you could omit the cabbage and do just beets if you wanted). There is also a ‘fermented’ category on the site that will lead you to all of my fermented recipes on the site (lots of veggie and even coconut yoghurt!). Best of luck to you! I hope you find it as fun and satisfying as I do :)
Thank you for your article Dana! I have been doing a ton of research on fermenting foods before jumping into it, and I am surprised at the wide variety of different things people throw into their jars and ferment. I think my first shot will be sauerkraut and pickles, but I think beets might end up towards the top of my list right after that right next to pickled onions! Thank you for making the recipe easy to follow and informative. How long have you been fermenting?
How nice, Mer, I’m growing up in farm country in my next life :) I have that giant canning pot and I agree, nice to have a low maintenance option.
How fun! Pickled beets are one of those foods that bring back wonderful memories of childhood preserves. I think pickled beets and jarred peaches are my faves out of everything we made. (grew up in farm country where we spent our summers preserving our garden produce for winter.) Now I live in condo-country with a chic glass stovetop that is too fragile to hold the weight of a large canning pot. So how fabulous is it to have a recipe for pickled beets that just slide into the fridge are ready to eat.