Recipe: Jenny's amazing easy pickled beetroot
We were lucky enough to be given a big bag of beetroot by another allotment holder a couple of days ago. This is our very favourite thing to do with lots of beetroot. Beetroot stores well so it's not really necessary to pickle it unless you have completely enormous quantities- but this recipe is so tasty it's really, really worth it!
The metric quantities are rounded for ease of measuring- it's a pretty flexible recipe so don't worry about precision too much.
3lb (1.5kg) beetroot
6oz (180g) brown sugar
1 dessert spoon salt
1tsp ground pepper (fresh ground always tastes best)
1tsp English mustard
1pt (500ml) malt vinegar
You will also need
A large pan
A small pan (optional but convenient) to prepare the pickling vinegar
A sharp knife and chopping board
Jam jars or pickling jars with completely undamaged lids (if re-using jam jars make absolutely sure the plastic inside the lids isn't scratched).
A wooden spoon
For the beetroot
Wash any mud off the beetroot then put them in the pan, cover with water and bring to the boil.
Cook the beetroot for about half an hour, until they feel reasonably soft when a knife is pushed into them.
Drain and leave the beetroot to cool.
Once cool enough to handle comfortably, squeeze the beetroot so that the skins slip off and you can pull off any leaf shoots still on them. Compost the skins and shoots.
Chop the beetroot pieces into a convenient size to pack into your jars, then fill the jars to a little below the neck with the pieces- leave enough room so that the vinegar will be able to cover the beetroot without touching the top of the jar.
For the pickling vinegar
Put the dry ingredients into the pan, then pour the vinegar over them
Bring to the boil, stirring regularly
To pickle the beetroot
Once the vinegar is prepared, pour it over the beetroot until the pieces are just covered.
Put the lids loosely on the jars
Process the jars by slowly (as in, over about an hour- use a gentle heat) bringing them to a simmer in a bath of water- you can use the same big pan as before. The water must reach to the neck of each jar to ensure that the vinegar and beetroot ends up properly sterilised. Once the jars have simmered for at least a few minutes, switch the heat off and tighten the jar lids carefully.
Leave them to cool in the water bath if possible.
Take care not to heat the water too fast- this can lead to breakages or to you thinking the jars have been sterilised when actually they never got that hot- it was just the water boiling but the beetroot wasn't hot enough to kill all the bugs.
Leave the jars for at least a couple of weeks to mature (if you can bear to) before eating. These make a really strong and tangy accompaniment to salads, sandwiches, cheeses or meats.