A classic and punchy addition to any share platter, pickled beetroot is not only easy to make at home but it comes with a whole host of health benefits, and makes an adorable gift.
Beetroot are naturally high in folate and manganese, and their vibrant pigment make them a valuable source of natural food colouring. Available in both red and yellow cultivars, beetroot are also over 80% water - which (along with their natural sweetness) makes them ideal for pickling.
Pickling originated as a way to preserve and eat vegetables when they were out of season. Despite fridges making pickling for preservation a thing of the past, our love for the punchy flavour of tender pickled beetroot remains.
Delicious as condiment on hearty pastrami sandwiches, added to salads, or served alongside deli meat and cheeses on your next platter of nibbles - plus the health benefits of eating fermented foods - we can guarantee you won't regret having a crack at making your own pickled beetroot.
In order to pickle fresh beetroot, they need to be cooked first. Beetroot is simple to cook, and can be boiled, roasted, or microwaved. Once cooked, the skin can be easily rubbed way while wearing a pair of kitchen gloves. It's recommended to wear gloves while peeling beetroot - that red stain can be as stubborn as a two-year-old in a toy store!
Once peeled, segment or slice the cooked beetroot (or leave whole if using smaller baby beetroot) and place in a tempered glass jar so they fit snugly. Once the beetroot is covered by the pickling liquid there should be as little space for air as possible. It's important that the glass is tempered - because when we add the hot pickling liquid we don't want the jar to shatter. If you don't have a tempered glass jar you can immerse a regular glass jar in a cold water in a large pot on the stove, and slowly allow the water to come to the boil.
Beetroot is pickled in a solution of vinegar and sugar. Sometimes water is also added for a milder acidic flavour, but since beetroots are watery enough we don't need it. Often peppercorns, mustard seeds, chillis, cloves, cinnamon sticks, or bay leaves are added for extra flavour. To produce 1 litre of pickling liquid combine 1 cup of caster sugar and 4 cups of cider vinegar in a large saucepan. Add a cinnamon stick, 8 black peppercorns, 1/2 a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes, and a teaspoon of salt and bring to the boil.
Allow the pickling liquid to cool slightly, and then while still warm, pour it into the jar, completely submerging the cooked beetroot, and seal immediately. As the contents of the jar cools, it will create a vacuum inside the jar which will hold the lid firmly in place and prevent air from entering the jar and spoiling your pickle.
Label and date the jar, and then store in a cool, dark place for at least three weeks before opening. Once open, refrigerate and use within six months.