Brined Beets

September 15, 2016

pickled beets

This recipe is a great place to start with fermenting vegetables (along with sauerkraut), and one that I’ve had in the back of my fridge pretty much constantly for the last year or so. It come from the Bar Tartine cookbook, which is terrific resource for pickling, fermenting, and making radical pantry items like homemade vinegar or smoked onion powder.

Pickled beets taste complex and fantastic. To make them even more flavorful, this recipe has you blend some aromatics into the brine to make a super flavorful liquid (once it’s full of live cultures, it’s like a shot of magic elixir). I’ve found that depending on the size of your beets, they can still be quite crunchy after 1 month of fermentation, so I like to cut them up into sections as seen in the photos. These are awesome in salads or as a snack, or anywhere you might use regular beets.

Ingredients (makes 2 qt)

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp coriander sees, toasted and ground
  • 1 star anise pod, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp mustard seed, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 lbs red beets, peeled
  • 1 bunch fresh dill
  • 1 cup / 140g kosher salt (sea salt weighs differently!)
  • 4 qts water
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 Serrano chile, stemmed

Instructions

  1. Toast seeds and put in a sack of cheesecloth or reusable pouch.
  2. Chop beets to desired size.
  3. Add beets, dill, and spices to a large non-reactive container.
  4. In a separate container, dissolve salt in the water to make the brine.
  5. Transfer about a cup of the brine to blender, and add the garlic, shallot, and chile; process until smooth.
  6. Mix the puree back into the brine and pour over the beets.
  7. Place a weight on top of the beets to keep them submerged. If you need more liquid, mix additional brine by combining 1 cup water with 1 Tbsp kosher salt.
  8. Seal the container with an airlock if you have one, or else seal with a lid and open every few days to release carbon dioxide build-up. Alternatively, cover container with a loose towel or plastic bag and scoop off any mold that develops (white mold is fine, just check on your beets every few days and be vigilant).
  9. Store in a low-light environment between 60-70°F until beets taste sour, about 1 month.
  10. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a year.