People seem to love beets or loathe them. Their earthy sweetness pleases or repels.
I love beets not just because of their flavor, but because they grow well in my garden, store beautifully in my cellar and then prove susceptible to so many ways of preparing them. This point in the farmer’s year is a good time to use up the stored supply because their future looks pretty wrinkly and they are inclined to sprout.
Besides sweet and sour preparations like Harvard beets, a stronger emphasis on the sharper vinegar side with or without spices readies beets for stashing in the fridge to eat as a side dish or to add to salad or grain bowl. Best of all, we can do it quickly and bypass the whole canning process.
All kinds of root or solid vegetables like carrots, beets, turnips, certain winter squashes and cabbage can be quickly pickled with vinegar, water and sugar mixtures heated and poured over the prepared vegetables. Sometimes nicknamed “quickles,” these vegetables can be seasoned to taste with pickling spices and the process preserves the veggies for a week or more in the fridge.
Other combinations seem more like a salad dressing with a vinegar bite. It matters not. Sweet beets benefit from a little acid.
Three formulas for “quickled” beets follows. One calls for onions as part of the process, but all might be good with a bit of onion added. Consider shredding some red cabbage to mix with the beets in the pickling mix for varied texture and flavor. Then just before serving, consider tossing in some diced, raw apple.
Spiced Quick Pickled Beets
½ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2-inch piece of soft cinnamon stick
4 peppercorns, cracked
2 whole cloves
1 small red onion, sliced
6 medium beets, cooked, peeled and cut into chunks
Heat together the vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, peppercorns and cloves, simmering for about three minutes.
Put the onion and beets into a bowl and strain the hot spiced vinegar over them.
Let cool, tossing the beets and onions together occasionally.
Sweet and Sour Quick Beet Pickles
2-3 cups beets, cooked, thin sliced or julienned
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
Your choice of black pepper, capsicum peppers, garlic, mustard seeds, celery seeds, cloves, allspice and bay leaf to taste.
Bring to a boil, then pour over prepared beets. Serve when cool.
Store in the fridge covered by the pickling mix for up to two weeks.
Vinaigrette Pickled Beets
6 medium beets, cooked and sliced
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
Spread the beets on a platter.
Whisk the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper together.
Dribble over the beets and let stand for up to an hour before serving, or garnish a green salad with them.
Refrigerate the remainder and use within a couple days.