Home-grown advice from Jennifer Irvine
However carefully one plans and plants their produce, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up with a glut of something. This presents a great opportunity to get pickling. I love starting the new year preserving vegetables in my kitchen, knowing I can enjoy them in the coming months.
My garden is home to a rainbow-coloured collection of beetroot, from the common red to the more unusual golden varieties. And this year, I’ve ended up with an abundance of them. This has pleased me no end because I love eating beetroot all year round, whether it’s freshly sliced in summer salads or plucked from a jar and tossed into winter ones.
I like to seperate the colours when I pickle beetroots so they don’t bleed into each other, but if you do want to chuck them in the same jar, go for it! It won’t affect the taste. I also select vinegars to match their subject. So, red wine vinegar for red beetroots and cider vinegar for the golden ones. Again, this colour-ordering penchant is a personal choice, so feel free to experiment.
What is important however, is that you buy a good vinegar with at least 6% acidity. This is to ensure both quality of taste and pickling power. Remember, you can use the vinegar in salad dressings too.
Any other additions?
Popular things to add to the pickling jar include slices of white onion, pepper corns and bay leaves. What’s great about this is that over time you can adapt your recipe to what you love, and create things that are unique to you. Personally, I like to leave mine plain. This provides me with a blank culinary canvas, meaning I’m free to add anything extra to the salad on the day, depending on my mood.
How to pickle beetroot
Pickling requires minimal effort, only two ingredients and a large, sterile jar.Before you get started, sterilise your jar. The traditional method is to wash it thoroughly in very hot soapy water, then rinse in hot water and put in a low oven to dry out (about 10 min). I prefer to take an even easier option – putting it on a very hot run in the dishwasher. If you’re planning on gifting your pickled goods, there are many beautiful jars available. I’m a fan of the kilner-style ones, which you
- Wear plastic gloves (unless you want stained hands) to remove the tops of the freshly picked beetroots, being careful not to damage the flesh or skin.
- Divide your beets by colour and cook them in separate pans (if you don’t want them bleeding into each other) in boiling water – 15–30 min should do it, but it depends on their size. Drain and peel, wearing your plastic gloves. It’s a good idea to peel the lighter beetroots first to keep them pale.
- Slice the beetroot and put it in the jar, leaving enough space at the top for the vinegar to fully cover it.
- Bring the vinegar to the boil (in separate pans if you’re pickling different types) before carefully pouring it over the beetroot(use oven gloves to protect your hands).
- Leave the pickles for at least two weeks before eating. Once opened, keep them in the fridge and eat within a month. They’ll keep unopened for several months.