Beet Ya To It – Lovely Ginger Pickled Beets
Lately I have been bracing myself for the onslaught of summer produce that I know is on its way. I can see it each time I walk outside, the garden has entered a full on frenzy. Our tomato plants are working overtime to peek over the top of our six foot fence. The cucumbers have hatched a sinister plot to overtake the pepper plants, who I have to defend daily from suffocation by wandering tendril. The cantaloupes are mapping out an escape plan, vines creeping through their chicken wire cage out onto the driveway. And our cilantro has shot up like a confused Christmas tree, proud, towering and yet, strangely frazzled.
Next year we may need a larger plot to give our bounty ample room. And yet, even as I plan a bigger an better schema for next summer, I have no idea how we will make our way through the bushels and baskets of tomatoes the garden will bestow upon us, let alone the gaggle of cucumbers and armfuls of watermelon. Oh, and did I forget to mention, the weekly boxful of beautiful produce from our local CSA? It is going to be a busy summer.
I have already admitted defeat. The white flag is up, I know we simply cannot keep pace with the amount of veggies pouring in, and so, I will turn to the old methods of preserving and pickling. Putting up the wares we cannot consume in time. This summers posts will surely be full of recipes for pickles, jams, sauces and pastes. As I learn from my own experiments, I will share with you all the insight I gain on how to make the summers bounty stretch into the winter.
And so, without further ado, I give you the first installment in a series of summer preservation techniques. This one could not be more straight forward, it is derived from an old school recipe for pickled beets but could not be further from the squishy sugary salad bar fare found in grocery stores and low end buffets across America. The ginger brings a brightness to these semi sweet pickles that drives it into an entirely different direction. Be careful not to overlook the beets, too hard and they will be unpalatable, but they need a bit of bite to provide toothsome texture and to preserve their beautiful earthy flavor.
I have included some pieces of chopped beet stem in the recipe below, it is likely that you will need to buy beets with the greens to accomplish this. Simply snip off the beet greens and reserve them for another use. The greens taste great julienned (around 1″ width to the julienne) and sautéed in olive oil with a hint of minced garlic or, you guessed it, ginger. They are far more tender than collards, and slightly more so than Kale, so when sautéing them, tread lightly, or they will be reduced to overlooked mush.
Ginger Pickled Beets
4-5 Medium Beets With Stems
3 Inch Piece of Ginger Peeled and Julienned
1/2 C Sugar
2 TSP Kosher Salt
1-2 TBSP Whole Coriander Seeds
6 Whole Peppercorns
To prepare the beets wash the stems and set them aside to dry. Peel the beets. If you want to preserve your pretty hands and protect them from turning all red and splotchy you may want to wear gloves when handling them. The photo of the cutting board above bears witness to the staining power of this brilliant vegetable.
Cut the beets into 1/4 inch discs and set aside. Cut stems into 1/2 inch pieces and reserve.
Bring one cup of water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add beets and lower to a simmer, cook 3 mins, add stems and cook another min or two or until beets are just tender. Remove from stove.
Place peppercorns, ginger, and coriander seeds in a quart sized ball jar with a tight lid. Pack beets in along with their liquid. Allow to cool before lidding. Top with lid, seal tightly and turn upside down. Let sit for another hour or so before refrigerating. The beets will keep well for about 2 weeks in the fridge. The make great accompaniments to juicy summer burgers and are stunning on salads with avocado and crumbled blue cheese.