It’s fall, and beets abound. There are beets falling out of my fridge, and growing in my garden. Although I appreciate the abundance, I also feel a little overwhelmed by it. We have a share in a local farm and the farmer grows a huge quantity of beets. Since I am not overly fond of eating them cooked, I’ve had to look for other ways to use this bounty.
Making Beet Pickles
My first order of business is to make beet pickles. While I am not at all fond of cooked beets, cooked and pickled beets are a delight, especially in the middle of winter. They’re so happy, red, crunchy, and deliciously sweet and sour! The natural sweetness of beets really adds to the flavor of beet pickles. Combined with vinegar and spices that are reminiscent of Christmas baking, they make fabulous pickles. My grandma’s recipe for beet pickles is:
• 10 lbs beets, chopped and steamed
• 2 cups water
• 2 cups white vinegar
• 2 cups sugar
Boil the water, vinegar, and sugar together to make the pickling base. Add allspice, cinnamon, and cloves to taste – 1 tablespoon to 1 teaspoon. Place in canning jars and seal.
Grated Beets On Salads – The Perfect Garnish
Peeled and grated beets are the perfect sweet and colorful addition to a summer salad. They might seem like a blast from the 1970s – I seem to remember colorful beets as a garnish to Waldorf salads. However, their crisp texture and delicate sweetness adds a new dimension to salads.
Yes, this sounds crazy. However, in my desperate attempt to eat beets a few years ago, I discovered a beet cake. I made it, much to the delight of my daughter who loves both cake and beets. Essentially, a beet cake is a white cake recipe with pureed beet added. Add a cup of puree in lieu of some of the other wet ingredients and go from there. You can also add spices like cinnamon to enhance the flavor of the beets and make them seem more cake-like.
Beets are a Natural Dye Plant
After I’ve steamed beets to use in cake or pickles, I like to use the remaining water as a dye. You can also throw some beets into the water as you steam to make the dye more intense. Add vinegar to the water – this extracts the dye and helps set it on cloth. Then add a cotton shirt, pillowcase, or play silk. Beets turn your material a beautiful fall orange or red, depending on the amount of beet dye in the pot.
If you have a wacky use for beets, please share! I’m always looking for more recipes. Beet fingerpaint, perhaps?