Here’s that other, stock cupboard version of a pickle. This, I thought, would do well for the gorgeous golden beetroot I’ve grown this season, but of course you could use red.
- 2 medium golden beetroot
- Cider vinegar, about half a litre
- Brown and white mustard seeds – tablespoon of each
- Dried chilli if you want some heat (optional)
- 2 or 3 1lb jars
Cut the tops and the majority of the roots from the beetroot. (If these are young, don’t forget the smaller, tender leaves make a good, peppy addition to a salad). Pop them into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil, ensuring they are covered with water at all times. Cook for around 30 minutes or until a skewer slides in without too much resistance.
Meanwhile wash your jars in hot, soapy water, rinse and drain. Sterilse them in a medium oven for 5 minutes. Pour boiling water over the lids.
When cooked, drain the beets, and allow to cool slightly until you can handle them comfortably. Under running water, rub off the skins – they should come away really easily and the cool water will help you hold them as they’ll still be quite warm. (you’ll find this is much easier if you don’t let them get cold!).
While the beets are cooling, pour the cider vinegar into a saucepan, add the mustard seeds and any other spices you’re using, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, and take off the heat. As you’ll see, the amount of vinegar you’ll need depends on how tightly you pack the slices into the jar; I often add a bit extra and store the left over spiced vinegar in a separate bottle for next time.
Slice or chop the peeled beets so that the pieces or slices are around 3/4 cm in thickness. Pack them carefully into the still warm jars, trying to not to touch the insides of the jars too much with your fingers. In fact better still, use a fork or tongs. I’ve layered mine so that the lovely golden stripes are visible, but that’s just for the looks.
I’ve chosen to pour some vinegar/spice mix and then top up as I have arranged my slices in a fairly structured way; otherwise I’d never get the mustard seeds to the middle of my jar where all those lovely flavours can mingle and develop. If you’ve rough chopped your beets you’ll probably find you won’t need to do that as the seeds will trickle through all the gaps.
When full, ensure you’ve wiggled and tapped the jars to get all the air pockets out, and seal with the boiled lids. Leave to mature in a cool, dark place for about a month, just to allow the vinegar to mellow. They should keep happily unrefrigerated, perhaps in a cool cupboard, for at least a year.