Pickled Beets….They Taste Good and They're Good for You!

Happy Friday!  I can't believe it is the weekend again. Time is just flying by. It has already been a month since I arrived in SC from TX!  How did that happen? The summer is going to be over before I know it.  It all needs to slow down so I can enjoy it.  It's been a few days, but I am back with a new recipe for you.   I made naturally-fermented, pickled beets.  

Fermented vegetables at the Austin Fermentation Festival

Fermented vegetables at the Austin Fermentation Festival

Most of you will probably say What the heck?!  Actually fermentation is all the rage these days and you can find information all over the internet.  In traditional cooking, before processed foods became the standard, natural fermentation was commonly used to save vegetables and fruits to eat them later. No canning or freezing was required. The process is called lacto-fermentation, which uses lactic acid as a natural preservative.  Lactic acid inhibits the bacteria that causes food to spoil. Starches and sugars in fruits and vegetables are converted to lactic acid by good bacteria that are naturally occuring in the environment on all living things.  Besides allowing you to save food for a long time, the bacteria in fermented foods is beneficial for your digestive system.  They make food easier to digest and increase vitamin levels. These beneficial bacteria produce helpful enzymes as well as substances that act as antibiotics and anti-carcinogens. The lactic acid promotes growth of healthy bacteria in your intestinal tract. You can read about benefits of fermented food here, and here.  If you look at traditional diets all over the world, you will see they all include fermented foods.  Kimchi in Korea.  Sauerkraut in Germany.  Lassi in India.  Amasake in Japan.  Miso, tempeh, natto, yogurt,….the list is long.  See a version here.    

Humus and avocado snack with purple cabbage kraut

Humus and avocado snack with purple cabbage kraut

In school we learned to make fermented foods.  We used raw vegetables only, and in some added a package of culture.  We also made tempeh which was amazing.  I have been reading more about fermentation and you definitely don't need to add a package of culture to fruits and vegetables.  I also cooked these beets which I liked.  Cabbage is done raw.  I'm going to try that next!  In making these, you cook the beets, then pack them in a jar, cover with salt water, cover the jar and let sit out on the counter for 3 days.  When you like how sour they are, put them in the fridge.  We let ours sit an extra 10 hours because they were more salty then sour.  The extra time made a huge difference. I think they taste better the longer they sit.  I gave some to my Aunt Linda and she likes them as well.    Since fermented foods are so popular now, you can buy them at the grocery store, but they can be expensive.  These are so inexpensive to make. I vote for making your own!   So, that's it for this week.  Hope you have a good weekend! 

Pickled Beets

by Catherine Craig

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes + fermentation tim

Keywords: fermented condiment gluten-free vegan vegetarian beets

Ingredients (1 quart)

  • 12 medium beets
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 cup filtered/spring water + extra as needed

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375. Wash beets, cut off greens, stems and roots. Dry and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and cook in the oven until tender. This will take 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the beets. When soft, remove from foil, and let cool slightly. Using a paper towel, rub the skins off. Cut into 1/4 inch julienne (sticks). Do not grate the beets or cut in a food processor.

Place the beets in a quart-sized wide mouth mason jar. Press down firmly to pack them in. Combine 1 cup of water with 2 Tbsp salt. Stir to dissolve. Pour over the beets. Add more water so that the beets are covered by 1 inch of water. It is really important that the beets are all totally submerged. Cover tightly and set aside at room temperature for 3 days. After three days, taste. If the beets taste salty but not sour, let sit out for 8 to 12 more hours. When sufficiently sour, store the jar in the refrigerator.

Note: these will keep for 6 months. Eat in small portions - this is a condiment, not a side dish. Receipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

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