Monday, November 21, 2011

Pickled Beets


It's important to be able to find enjoyment in everyday tasks, since they fill the bulk of our lives. I am most mindful of this when I am preparing food.  Slice into a crisp apple or a thick-skinned squash, stop and contemplate.  The cross section of a vegetable is so clean and artistic.  The simplicity of nature's gifts can make everything else melt into the background.

During these dark East Coast days of bare trees and dusk that falls at 4:30 pm, I look for splashes of color to add to my plate and my wardrobe.  Dark crimson beets, cranberries, the luscious fuchsia scarf my sister knit me. The tang of these beets will perk up a simple meal and awaken the palate.


My grandmother Ruth, whose recipes I've been trying lately, used to make these pickled beets.  Apart from her recipes, the details are sparse.  I know she hated soup until she married a man who loved it. She used to correspond via mail with my older sister about synonyms and antonyms. (Tangy vs. bland comes to mind.)  My uncle tells me she was very chatty.  She and I would have apparently shared a deep appreciation for brined vegetables and chocolate cake.  Not a bad collection of idiosyncracies, if you ask me.


Pickled Beets
The addition of beef broth to the vinegar makes these extremely palatable. You can add these beets to a sandwich or burger, serve on top of a salad, or alongside roasted chicken, pork or fish. Serve them as an appetizer with martinis. Tie a bow around a jar and take it to a friend.  I did not to go through the whole canning process, so they must be kept in the refrigerator unless they are preserved by the boiling process. 

One bunch of beets (3 large)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon fine sugar
1 teaspoon whole Allspice
1 medium onion, sliced

Cook the whole beets in boiling, salted water til tender (about 30-40 minutes). 
Skin and slice the beets.  
Arrange the beets and onion slices in two mason jars or a large bowl.  
Combine the vinegar, broth and sugar and allspice, and pour over the beets and onions. (The liquid should cover the beets.)
Place in the refrigerator and serve cold.


  1. You are so right, Nicole - the color of beets is spectacular, especially at this time of year in the Northeast, where a little brightness goes a long way. Noticing the cross section makes me want to paint them; they look like little half rainbow gradations of red. I'm a beet lover, but I've never tried pickling them. What a lovely side dish for the holiday, too!

  2. Great post. Love your colorful ideas to brighten this time of year. And I thought we had it bad here in Denver with it being dark by 5:00. A friend and I have a tradition of pickling beets each Fall. This year we pickled 50 pounds and go through the canning process. I agree, they are a colorful addition as a side dish and will be used as gifts for the holidays.

  3. Such a wonderful way to honor your grandmom, you know she's up there similing down at you Nicole! Beautifully written and beautiful recipe, thanks for sharing!

  4. Sarah, I wish I could paint- it would be another way to honor food.

    Lee Ann- 50 pounds is no small feat. That's so impressive!

    Carolyn- Thanks, as always! Enjoy your Thanksgiving prep!

  5. I've never tried pickling beets. I do love their color and have come to terms with their dirt flavor. The beef broth makes sense.

  6. I love the addition of allspice. Beets are such a lovely color--red, gold, or candycane! Makes sense to refrigerate--who knows how long you'd have to boil with the addition of the broth to make it safe (but the idea of beef broth sounds good--borscht!)

  7. it's so heart warming to hear your family stories and traditions! I see you are in a red phase...I am in an orange phase: great colors for the Fall. Happy Thanksgiving Nicole!

  8. Nature is filled with beauty and amazing colors. Sometimes we forget, but like you so rightly remind us, this beauty can be found in the simplest of things and gestures.

  9. beet pickle looks fabulous and colourful


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