October is the time when beetroot comes into its own, brightening up the grocery store with its earthy, purple flesh and giving kitchen enthusiasts the creative challenge of what to do with it. No doubt, many of us have recollections from childhood of great lumps of beetroot pickled in eye-wateringly strong vinegar; however, things have moved on since then and there are a whole host of sophisticated beetroot recipes available and some great pickling ideas.
Preserving beetroot in jam jars
To avoid repeating mistakes from the past when it comes to pickling beetroot, it is important not to over-boil the beetroot and not to use malt vinegar, as this type of vinegar is too strong and distorts the real taste of the beetroot.
Instead, try pickling beetroot in red wine vinegar and adding some shallots, fresh peppercorns and crushed sea salt. Rather than boiling the beetroot prior to preserving, try baking them slowly in the oven for about three hours. Don’t peel the beetroot until you have cooked them to keep all that delicious flavour locked in. Once cooled, peel the beetroot and slice thinly, layering it with the sliced shallots in some sterilised glass food jars. Add the salt and pepper to the vinegar and heat until just simmering, then pour over the beetroot and seal the jars straight away. Pickled beetroot is ready to eat immediately, but will also keep well.
When it comes to preserving beetroot, straightforward pickling is what usually springs to mind. There is far more to the humble beetroot, however, and it is possible to make delicious beetroot jam, chutney and all manner of other delights to fill those empty food jars with purple loveliness. Beetroot jam in particular is perfect with cheese and crackers or cold meats. Here is our favourite beetroot jam recipe:
220ml lemon juice
2½ tsp ground ginger
140g chopped almonds
- Peel and grate the beetroot in a bowl. Add the sugar and mix well, then cover and set aside overnight.
- In the morning, place the beetroot mixture in a saucepan and add the water and lemon juice. Bring to the boil, stirring gently.
- Once it has reached boiling point, leave to simmer very gently for about three hours, stirring occasionally until the liquid has gone and the jam has thickened. Be careful not to burn the jam. Add the ginger and walnuts to the jam and stir thoroughly to combine.
- Pour the jam into warm, sterilised jam jars and seal.