2 1/4 cups beets (ca. 4 medium sized ones)
1 tsp juniper berries
3 bay leaves
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (more if you like)
1 tsp sugar
1 large used glass jar with screw cap, thoroughly cleaned
Having splurged with crepes in red wine cream sauce, it is time for some healthy balance. What is more perfect for that, especially in winter, than beets? Just the quickest of Google searches for 'health benefits of beets" yields an impressive number, way above 20 million hits. Do I need to say more? But in real life, how often do you actually eat beets?
At home, my grandmother and mom, and basically most people I knew, would always have a jar of pickled beets in their pantry. Nothing was more simple than upgrading an otherwise boring bread and sausage dinner with something fresh and tasty. Yet maybe that's what kept me from giving them a try myself for so long - being intimidated by the mysterious and obscure process that transformed a beet into a pickled beet in a jar.
However, unless if you're aspiring to have your very own pantry shelf of jars lined up with military precision and ready to endure months or years of collecting dust, courage!, there is a relatively easy route to pickled beets.
Unfortunately, you still have to peel and boil or steam the beets (very similar to boiling potatoes actually), let them cool down and cut them into thin slices. If you can buy already peeled and steamed beets, they can also be used. In the meantime, heat the water, vinegar and spices in a small pot and after simmering the mix on low temperature, add in the sliced beets and bring to a boil.
To be able to store the beets for about a month, fill them in the jar while still as hot as possible including the vinegar-water mix, and immediately close the jar, letting it cool down turned upside down. Once it has cooled down and the jar is vacuum sealed, it should keep for at least a month in the fridge.
In order to tease out the full spectrum of health benefits as well as every dimension of the beets' earthen flavor, when ready to eat, topple them with a couple of drops of oil. My absolute favorite for this combination is the light fruitiness of grape seed oil, but while I wouldn't recommend a strongly flavored variety such as olive oil, most should work. While an absolute delight for the foodie, I bet it will be the taste of triumph to have succeeded in pickling your own beets that will make them truly irresistible.
Life is good!