Beets are a lot of fun. I`ve had a funny relationship with them since childhood. I forget to put them on my plate (or outright avoid them) thinking that I`m not a giant fan of them. When I have a weak moment and plate some up I rediscover that I love them. This can happen several times per week.
When I peel beets for dinner, I find it`s pretty quick and easy. When I peel 5-10 pounds of them for preserving, I find the work tedious. The easiest way to peel a beet is to trim it`s top and bottom, quickly blanch it in boiling water and when the skin appears lose, dump it in an ice water bath. We then use gloves to quickly`rub` the beet into submission.
When you peel by blanching, make sure the leave the beets whole. I foolishly cut them up last year and it changed peeling a single beet from 1 smooth motion to 10 or 12 steps (one for each piece).
We made beet powder last year. It`s a stunning way to transfer 5 pounds of beets into a quarter cup of powder. It`s also an amazing soup topping, flavor enhancer, color changer (think of darkening sauces) and, according to Readymade Magazine, an ingredient for DIY-lipstick.
Beets are very easy to pickle (you can find a base recipe at the National Center for Home Food Preservation that’s actually very good). There’s not a whole lot to say about them other than you cook, peel, slice, add them to jars with hot brine and process them in a hot water bath. We’ll do a complete walk-through the next time we do a batch (still have some from last year in the pantry) but that link will walk you through the process in one-paragraph (rather than stealing their work I’ll send you there :)).
We also love to add a bit of thyme to our pickled beets – it’s like introducing earthiness to dirtiness. Almost sounds like Scotch…
As a parting gift, here’s my favourite trick for cooking different colors of beets without having their colors run into each other.
This is part of our series of posts linked to our Preserving Autumn article in Edible Toronto. The posts will update daily from September 18th and you’ll be able to see all of the posts in the series by clicking here.