I love pickled beets. The only problem is, it takes HOURS to make them! Fortunately, I was not alone and was, in fact, talked into embarking on the project by my lovely future son-in-law, Toryn. So, with all the decks cleared, we started with tons of beets from Michell’s Farm Market down the road (all of ours went into our customer goody boxes – doesn’t that just figure!).
First step was to sort the beets into piles that were more or less the same size. The smaller ones we cooked whole, larger ones were chopped up a bit first. We boiled them for about ten minutes after first topping and tailing.
After boiling, we doused the beets in cold water. That makes the skins slip off quite easily.
THIS is a great tool!
Dunking the beets in cold water.
Due to popular demand, we sliced them all (instead of doing some in a chunkier style…).
We added a malt vinegar and water mixture after we’d added a spoonful of pickling spices to each jar of sliced beets.
At this point, the whole house smelled like vinegar and beets and all the windows were fogged up. Lids went on and the jars were gently lowered into a boiling water bath.
Beet juice and sharp knives everywhere! It was about halfway through several batches that I got a phonecall – “There’s a stray horse down at the barn!”
I sprinted down the hill and found a pony with some serious attitude pulling faces at my horses through the fence. She has visited our place before, so I knew where to take her. Leaving T. in charge of the beets, I hiked down the road with pony in tow. Fortunately, farming neighbour Mitchell happened to see me and gave me a ride back so I didn’t miss too much.
After T. left for work, I finished up the last batch. It was one of those situations where I could either have six very full jars or seven not very full jars and I opted for the former. Mistake! You know the part where they say ‘”leave plenty of head room?” There is a good reason for that… Fail to do so and your jar explodes due to all the super hot expanding liquid in the jar. Which is what happened in the last batch.
The good news was that only one jar was lost. And, bonus, the bottom blew out very cleanly – no splinters or missing chunks of glass. So, the hogs were happy – they got some fancy beets as a treat!
Not only did the bottom blow out, the whole jar flipped upside down in the water bath.
Fortunately, all the other jars sealed without trouble…
We couldn’t wait the recommended three weeks before testing… so today after everything had cooled, we opened a jar.
Grampy tries a beet… the ultimate taste test!
Fortunately (because we have a lot of them!) the beets passed muster and made their way into a cheese and beet sandwich. As the rest of the beets sit in their jars they will absorb more of the vinegar and spice mix so the taste will be stronger, but even in their premature state, they are pretty yummy! Will throw some into the salad tonight!