Gentle Readers. Let’s discuss how easy it is to pickle beets, and while we’re at it, how convenient to pickle eggs, too, and all in the same fun session. We are going camping this weekend, so pickling beets and eggs is on my to-do list.
You say those two statements: going camping and pickling beets ‘n’ eggs are incongruous? Not at all!
It happens every fall--it has, at least, for the past eleven. My siblings and my ‘rents and most all my kiddos and their kiddos and their beautiful spouses (them that has them) and all our collective dogs (there are a bunch) gird up our loins, loosen our belts, load up big tubs of food, paper tableware, dog treats, extra blankets, mosquito repellent, fishing poles, marshmallows, fly strips, lawn chairs, bins of firewood, more coolers of food, hiking boots, extra socks, extra blankets, rain coats, umbrellas, graham crackers and chocolate bars, and we head to the woods for a long weekend of fun and games and story-telling and hiking and cooking together and eating.
Lots of eating. *burp*
I’ve been feeling just a little out of the loop, as I have been so busy with my garden, also getting ready for school (that’s actually a joke–tomorrow’s the day before our new school year begins and I still have plenty of time to get everything together–right?), painting the pantry (at least I’m thinking about it: what? that takes energy too), ordering scripts for our home school theatre production (that I did do!), and you know, other boring things like laundry and dusting and (that was a joke, too, the dusting part) whatnot; so I’ve not started packing yet. My sisters and I have been sending messages–typed on the fly, between running and working and caring for kiddos and getting caught up on home responsibilities–back and forth we chat about meals, cabin accommodations, paper plates, snack ideas, paper tablecloths, movie night, canoe trips, and so on. But that’s about all the preparation that I’ve made time for. So far.
Ah well. I have made two kinds of pickles–well, three, if you count pickled eggs (and I do)–and dough for three kinds of artisan breads (which I’ll bake the day before we leave, and then freeze, because there’s no Flair in the woods, you know) so I guess that’s something. Oh, also I have a pint of pesto in the freezer marked “Ponca” on it. It’s not every camping trip that you make special pickles and artisan breads for, not to mention pesto, but for this one, I do.
My sister Mollie and I lay out a fabulous (I don’t say it about myself, but my friends say that I certainly can contribute to a fabulous charcuterie board, in the woods, especially) spread, a charcuterie board, with many kinds of artisan breads, cheeses, sliced meats, pickles of all sorts, and fruit. We are adding something new this year, something fantastically delicious and beautiful, but I dare not spill the beans pre-camp-out, you know?
I’ll reveal all in a follow-up post. SOooo Gentle Reader o’mine, if you haven’t typed in your own especial email address (above in the cute little box), please do. You don’t wanna miss a thing, do you?
Back to the pickled beets. I do love to grow beets. Compared to so many other crops (carrots which refuse to germinate; cabbage which is so delicious to moths; let’s see, this is so easy (and rather fun) to list veg that are troublesome to grow: umm, anything in the squash family because: squash bugs, hello!; not to mention arugula which starts out so tiny that you forget where you planted it, and so forth. So compared to all those things, beets are soooo easy to grow. You toss out the seeds and cover them slightly, you keep them damp until they germinate, and then when they get to be a good size, you thin them (so the remaining ones will get even bigger!) and then you pretty much forget about them until the day comes when you feel like eating beets.
Then you say “Hey, didn’t I plant beets around here someplace . . . ?” and you find your beet bed (just kidding, naturally you kept the weeds out *for the most part* and watered them when it got too dry) and you start pulling. And you find these lovelies.
My kids are divided on beets. Amalia loves them. Mack thinks they taste like dirt. I agree with both of them. Somehow, eating a veg from the dirt that tastes earthy and dirt-like appeals to me when the days are getting shorter and the mornings when I get up early are pitch-black and cold. It’s that time of year.
Time when one must eat heartier, more substantial foods. They give us courage. They bulk up those of us that are wanting in body fat and/or grit to meet the cold season. One must have a few extry pounds and a bit of extra gumption, in order to face yet another winter here in the Midwest.
Winter is coming, my friends, it is, there’s no getting out of it, much as we’d prefer to. Here in Nebraska winter really is a thing to be reckoned with. You need pickles to make it through.
If you pull up your beets (and you really don’t have to pull them all up at once, you know. You could leave some of them for the fall, and I usually do that. This year, though, since I’m growing a lot of veg for marketing purposes, I wanted to put in one more crop before it’s too frigid to do so) all at once, you can sock some away for eating later, and pickle some. But if you want to leave them in the bed, you can, and then when frost threatens, pile a few inches of nice mulch (hay or straw or woodchips) on them and they’ll stay good for several more weeks. I’ve pulled them until Christmas when they are protected in this way!
Once again we return to the subject at hand: pickling of beets. Again. I love to preserve things this way, by pickling. It makes sense economically–have you checked out the price of good pickles in the store? They are not cheap!–and of course anything you make at home will surpass what you can buy in the store, hands-down, for freshness and taste and well, every area, actually. No strange ingredients. Et al.
And–believe it or not–pickling is such an easy process. Otherwise I’d not gush on about it so long.
Or, maybe I would, but I would add a disclaimer.
Okay, so here we go. Because it’s also an easy-peasy shortcut, and because I really like pickled eggs to boot, I always make a batch of pickled eggs when I make pickled beets. So. Much. Fun. to pull out pickled eggs when you have company, for a sort of appetizer. Or to add them to a buffet or charcuterie board in the woods. Which brings us back to–
Here’s how to pickle beets and eggs, all in one fell swoop. Put on some saucy music, get to work, and in a short enough time you’ll have enough pickled beets to share. 🙂 And that’ll make everybody happy, right?
- (Makes 6 pints plus plenty of liquid for a pint of pickled eggs)
- 3 tbsp pickling spice, plus (optional) 1 tsp whole cloves and a broken cinnamon stick
- 2 1/2 cups white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 10 cups prepared beets (see note below)
- 6 hard boiled and peeled eggs
- First, prepare your canner, jars, and lids .
- Prepare your beets: Scrub and leave root and 2″ of stem intact, and put in large saucepan with enough water to cover. Boil gently until beets are soft, 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the beets). Remove from saucepan and run under cool water. Slip skins and remove tap root and stems. Leave baby beets whole and chop up bigger beets.
- Tie pickling spice into a square of cheesecloth, making a spice bag, how clever, eh?
- Combine in a very large stainless steel saucepan: vinegar, water, sugar, and spices. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat and boil gently for 15 minutes, until spices have infused the liquid. Discard spice bag. Add beets and return to a boil.
- Ladle beets into hot jars to within a half-inch of the top of the jars. Gently push beets in, to make best use of the space in the jars. Ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover beets, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Screw down lids fingertip-tight.
- Place jars in canner, covering with water. Bring to boil and process for 30 minutes. Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars carefully, cool and store.
- (This recipe is adapted from my favorite canning recipe book, The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, and more information about canning can be found in it.)
- Put boiled eggs into a clean jar, and cover with leftover beet pickling liquid. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat them. Stays good for a week or two in the refrig.
Thanks for popping in, Gentle Readers! Happy pickling!
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