Nordic palates prefer beets to be pickled. No wonder, the flavors of this sweet, earthy vegetable shine with a kiss of vinegar and herbs. Red and golden beets are interchangeable in all of these recipes. Be careful when working with red beets—they stain everything they touch. Yellow beets tend to be sweeter and have a more delicate flavor. Golden beets make a very pretty pickle. Be patient: it takes about a week for the spices to marry. The longer you wait, the better these beets will taste.
1 pound golden beets, scrubbed
2 teaspoons salt
6 wide bands grapefruit zest
1 fresh red Fresno chili or other hot chili, seeded and cut into thin strips
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, slightly crushed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
Wash the jars, lids, and bands in very hot soapy water, rinse them well, and place them upside down on a clean towel to drain.
Place the beets in a medium saucepan with the salt, and add enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Set the pan over high heat, and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook the beets until a sharp knife slides easily into the center, about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on size. (Take care not to overcook the beets. Remove them from the pot as they are done.) Drain and refresh the cooked beets in cold water. When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins using your fingers or a sharp knife. Cut the beets lengthwise into thin wedges. In a small bowl, stir together the mustard seeds, coriander, cardamom, fennel, and juniper berries.
Divide the beets, grapefruit zest, pepper strips, bay leaves, and spice mix among the jars.
In a saucepan, stir together the water, vinegar, sugar, and grapefruit juice, and set the pan over high heat. Bring the brine to a boil, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
Pour the brine over the beets. Cover each jar with a square of wax paper slightly larger than the jar opening, fold in the corners with a clean spoon, and push down gently so some of the brine comes up over the wax paper. Wipe the rims with a clean wet cloth or paper towel, add the lids and bands, and finger tighten the bands.
Label the jars. Cool the jars completely and tighten the bands before storing in the refrigerator. Allow at least 3 days for the flavors to marry before eating. These beets get better with time.
Serve the beets in a composed salad on arugula or spring greens with crumbled chèvre. Whisk together equal parts brine and walnut oil or olive oil to make a tangy vinaigrette to drizzle over the salad.
From Savory Sweet: Simple Preserves from a Northern Kitchen by Beth Dooley and Mette Nielsen (University of Minnesota Press, 2017). Copyright 2017 by Beth Dooley and Mette Nielsen. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the University of Minnesota Press.
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