You’ve had pickled beets before, right? What did you think? I haven’t found them that tasty, not up till now anyway. The pickling brine in commercial pickled beets overpowers the taste of the beets. All I taste is vinegar (and usually not very good vinegar either). The following beets are a horse of an entirely different color!
Sandra from the blog “Please Save the Recipe” mentioned pickled beets in her November posting of “In the kitchen“. It got me thinking and when I saw the stalls full of root vegetables at our local farmer’s market, I couldn’t resist buying several large bunches of deep ruby red beets and a couple of smaller ones of golden beets to pickle.
The following recipe for Red Wine Pickled Beets came from “The Preservation Kitchen” by Paul Virant. I didn’t want to pickle the golden beets in red wine, so adapted the recipe for them with white wine and white wine vinegar.
I’m not going to give detailed instructions here about hot water baths and preparing your jars. If you are not familiar with the steps, please read this article on the Food Network “How to sterilize jars for canning jam” for more details. The instructions are the same whether you are pickling, canning, or making jam.
Red Wine Pickled Beets (makes 4 pints)
- 3 lbs. of beets (about 6 ¼ cups roasted, peeled and sliced)
- Olive oil
- 2 cups of red wine vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
- 1 cup of red wine (I used the remains of a Syrah we’d had with dinner the night before)
- ½ cup of water
- ¼ cup of honey
- 1/3 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons of black peppercorns
- 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Trim the beet greens from the beets and reserve for later if they look fresh.
- Place the beets in a baking pan and coat with a spoonful of olive oil. Cover tightly with aluminum foil (or make a package of foil to contain them). Roast until the beets were tender, for larger ones it could be more than an hour. You should be able to pierce them easily with the tip of a knife.
- Cool, and then skin them (it should slip off easily). Slice the beets or cut them into wedges.
- Bring the water in a canning or large pot to a boil and scald 4 pint canning jars with new lids.
Prepare the pickling brine:
- In another pot, bring the vinegar, wine, water, honey, sugar, and salt to a boil. Keep hot.
- Right before filling, put the jars on the counter. Add ½ teaspoon of peppercorns, 2 thyme sprigs, and 1 rosemary sprig to each jar, then pack in the beets.
- Transfer the brine into a heatproof pitcher or measuring cup and pour over the beets to about ½ inch from the top. Check for air pockets with a skewer or knife and add more pickling brine if necessary.
- Wipe the tops of the jars with a clean cloth or paper towel, place a warm lid on top, screw on the band until snug but not tight.
- Carefully place jars in your canning pot, the boiling water should come and inch over the lids. Bring the water back to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Once the timing is done, turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the pot for a couple of minutes.
- Remove the jars onto a dishtowel and let cool. Once completely cool, tighten the lids if necessary.
At the end, I did something stupid! I had leftover red wine brine. I stuck my finger in the pot to taste it at the same time I was pouring it down the sink. STOP my brain said (it was delicious!), but too late. Have you ever done that? Brain and body did not connect in time. Don’t make my mistake. Save any leftover brine for marinating or using in your salad dressings.
I processed the golden beets the exact same way, substituting white wine for red and white wine vinegar for the red wine vinegar. They were small so I cut them into wedges instead of slices. And, since I didn’t have as many golden beets, I cut the brine recipe in half…resulting in 2 pints.
Beets have an affinity for goat cheese and eggs. You frequently see them paired with goat cheese in a salad, blue cheese seems to go quite well as well. In Australia I’ve heard that pickled beets often turn up on a hamburger, I’ll have to try that one.
One of my personal favorites is a mixture of freshly roasted asparagus and pickled asparagus with softly poached eggs. The creaminess of the soft yolk, richness of the roast asparagus, and tartness of the pickled asparagus are fantastic together.
Or what about pickled beets in a goat cheese sandwich? This was a delicious, pre-Thanksgiving lunch.
Don’t forget the beet greens, reserve them if they are fresh. I sliced the stems, washed them, then sautéed them in olive oil with a couple of minced garlic cloves, a little salt, and a pinch of chili flakes. Once the stems softened, I added the washed and sliced stems. A couple of tablespoons of water steamed them all to finish. It only took a few minutes. They are a wonderful side for grilled meat, and full of vitamins.
Let the beets cure in their brine for a week to get optimal flavor, if you can wait that long!