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What are Pickled Beets?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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Pickled beets are beets which have been subjected to a pickling process. Pickling preserves the beets, sometimes for an extended period of time, making beets accessible during times of the year when fresh beets cannot be obtained. Some people also simply enjoy the flavor of pickled beets, either on their own or in salads. Many delis carry pickled beets, and they can also be made at home.

When something is pickled, it is submerged in an acidic solution which helps to prevent decay. Typically, spices are mixed into the pickling juice to create a distinctive flavor, which in the case of pickled beets is often tangy; mustard seeds, bay leaves, and tarragon are common spices used to make pickled beets. The pickling mixture also typically contains salt, which is an excellent preservative.

To make pickled beets, cooks must first cook the beets, as raw beets are not very palatable. The most common cooking method is steaming or boiling; typically the beets are cooked whole and then peeled and sliced for pickling. It is also perfectly acceptable to roast beets for pickling; some cooks prefer this technique, since it allows them to flavor the beets during the cooking process.

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After cooking, the beets are allowed to cool briefly, and then peeled so that they can be sliced or julienned, depending on the taste of the cook. The sliced beets can then be combined with a pickling mixture to make pickled beets; if the pickled beets are to be kept on the shelf for an extended period of time, they should be briefly cooked with the pickling mixture immediately before they are canned, to ensure that everything is brought to a safe temperature.

A common pickling mixture includes one cup water, one cup vinegar, a half cup sugar, two teaspoons of salt, several whole bay leaves, crushed mustard seeds, and cracked peppercorns. Ingredients like slivered raw onions may also be mixed in. The beets are tossed with the pickling mixture and then placed into jars which can be heat sealed for extended shelf life or simply kept in the fridge, essentially allowing the beets to marinate for several days in the spicy pickling mixture before they are consumed.

If you intend to make beets for extended pickling, you should take some precautions to ensure that they will keep. Make sure to thoroughly wash the jars, ideally boiling them in water to remove any bacteria or other harmful organisms, and cook the pickling containers in a hot water bath to ensure that they seal properly. Make sure that the lids dimple inwards after the hot water bath, indicating that a tight seal has been made, and discard any jars with lids which bow outwards, indicating an improper seal and potential bacterial contamination.

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SarahGen
Post 3

@donasmrs-- I love pickled beets but I can't be bothered to make them. I actually buy them in bulk online. It costs less that way and I never run out.

I started eating pickled beets because they're nutritious, they have fiber and they're low in calories. I wanted something I could eat as a snack without worrying about putting on weight. Pickled beats turned out to be the best snack because they're a little sweet and a little sour. So they're great for satisfying cravings without feeling guilty.

I buy the small, bite sized ones which are perfect for snacking.

donasmrs
Post 2

I tried making pickled beets once and the result was not as I expected. Pickled beets are kind of difficult to get right. I used an aluminum pot to boil the vinegar and I think that might have been the problem. I found out later that a non-reactive must be used for pickle making.

Next time though, I'm not going to take chances. I've decided to use a pickled beet mix as well. I hope my pickles turn out better next time.

ddljohn
Post 1

Pickled beets are so delicious. I always add some to salads. Sometimes I get a craving for them and eat them right out of the can! I make sure to buy good quality ones with all natural ingredients so I don't feel guilty. The ones I buy only contain red wine vinegar, sugar and beets.

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