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.
- 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
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).