Sunday, June 17, 2012

[Insert Inappropriate Michael Jackson Joke Here]

He deserves it, though. It is physically impossible to can beets without getting "Beat it" stuck in your head. Some of the blame falls to me, however, as I was the one who thought it would be a great idea in February to plant about 16 sq. ft. of beets in the garden knowing full well I'd be the only one willing to eat them. I managed to get everyone else to try some roasted, and Neal was a good sport consuming them roasted, boiled, sliced raw, and hidden in other vegetables served over couscous. He also ate so many sauteed beet greens that I'm pretty sure he'll never eat ANY green again (as evidenced by the uneaten swiss chard I tried to feed him under a fried egg for breakfast).

And there were still beets left. Luckily, a good friend of mine sent me a book for my birthday last year, CANNING For A New Generation Bold Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff.

Isn't it pretty?

It's a beautiful book with lots of pictures and sweet anecdotes, and the recipes are written with both taste and healthfulness in mind. A refreshing change from classic recipes that often call for more sugar than actual fruit (I'm looking at you, Ball Blue Book). On page 55 there is a recipe for pickled beets, which I will include below but JUST IN CASE this is found by the publisher or someone involved please just tell me that you would like it removed from this post and I will promptly do so. There is no need to make anonymous reports to the government and send them after me. TO BE CLEAR I share this only in praise of the book and I encourage people to buy it. (The internet can certainly traumatize you into hating people, especially the anonymous ones)

Pickled Beets
from CANNING For A New Generation
makes about 4 pint jars

3 pounds beets, tops removed, scrubbed
4 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup mild honey
2 teaspoons pure kosher salt
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

Cook the beets in boiling water to cover until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Rub off the skins, trim, quarter, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Set aside

In a wide, 6- to 8- quart preserving pan, combine the vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water, the honey, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately add the beets; bring just to a simmer. 

Working quickly, using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the hot beets (and some of the spices) to the hot jars*. Ladle or pour in the hot vinegar mixture, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top. Use a chopstick to remove air bubbles around the inside of each jar.

I left out the parts about prepping the jars and processing because those are easy enough to find elsewhere. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes. One of the best parts about this book is, I think, the way she also includes recipes in which to use the items you are canning. Which I find helpful because I gotta say, staring down a jar of pickled beets leaves me somewhat less than inspired. The suggestion in the case is for Pickled Beet and Pesto Sandwiches, which I have yet to try but to be fair, you could spread pesto on a shoe and I'd probably eat it I love pesto so much. I did taste the beets prior to canning and despite the fact that I'd subbed regular white vinegar for the cider vinegar and canning salt for kosher salt, it was pretty good!

Messy, though!

And when it was over, I was left with a pot full of this beautiful beet juice. Seemed a shame to throw it out, so I decided to try dying something with it. 

Like, say, a dress?

Indeed. This one is boring, but it has pockets! So I balled it up and shoved it in the pot of beet juice with a bit of vinegar added, just because it seemed like a good idea. 

Maybe it's working?
I decided to leave it overnight, partially for the color to soak in, partially because I was exhausted from pickling beets. The next morning I couldn't wait to see what I'd created.

Seems a little messy, so I moved to the sink.

And pulled this out!

Oooh! It's so pink!!
I was THRILLED at this point. Pink is WAY better than white, and for FREE! But alas, I ran it through a rinse cycle on the washer, not even using soap, and it came out totally white again. Not a trace of the pretty pinkness. Oh well. I'm certainly less afraid of accidentally staining my clothes when working with beets, and I do have five pints of this to turn to for comfort:

Ohhhhhh.  .... ...yay?


  1. Hmmm... I wonder if you heat set it in the dryer prior to washing if it would keep the color?

    1. From what I've read, no, not really. lol Seems like even if you do get a stain, it's barely a tint. I'm just going to buy a box of Rit and go all chemical on that grassbag.

  2. I have gotten all the beet naysayers I know to eat and love this slaw:
    3 medium raw beets, shredded
    4 large apples, cored and shredded
    4 large carrots, shredded
    juice of 3 large lemons or more, to your taste
    1-2 tablespoons of shredded or minced ginger, or more to your taste
    1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    add walnuts or pecans as an option

    even my young cousins like it, because it is purple and sweet and crunchy