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Pickled Beets

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 16

Pickled beets charm in salad preparations, lending color, texture and their signature flavor. Try them layered with fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil, or tossed with arugula and garnished with ricotta salata . Or eat these beets straight from the jar. Any beet variety, from red to gold to red-and-white-striped Chioggias, can be used.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. beets
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1 cup cider vinegar (5 percent acidity)
  • 1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
  • 1 Tbs. cardamom pods
  • 1 Tbs. whole cloves
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

Have ready 4 hot, sterilized one-pint jars and their lids.

Put the beets into a large saucepan (if using different-colored beets, separate them into 2 saucepans) and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer until the beets are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain the beets, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid.

When the cooked beets are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick. Divide the beet slices and the onion slices among the jars.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the reserved cooking liquid, the vinegar, sugar, cardamom, cloves and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring, just until the sugar is dissolved.

Ladle the hot vinegar mixture into the jars, evenly distributing the spices and leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.

Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 7 minutes. Let the jars stand undisturbed for 24 hours and then set them aside for 1 week for the flavors to develop. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Makes 4 one-pint jars.

Adapted from The Art of Preserving, by Lisa Atwood, Rebecca Courchesne & Rick Field (Weldon Owen, 2010).