exploring, preserving: past, present

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Memories of Mom, and Pickled Beets #canning and #preserving

Beets…and Memories

My mother is about to turn 79 in two weeks. She’s petite, with curly white hair, and is a canning and preserving guru. I remember always being “in her way” in the kitchen, wanting to see what she was doing and how she was doing it. I spent many hours watching and helping her cook, bake, and create shelves full of preserves while I was growing up.

This past week, my canning exploits triggered happy memories of how my home growing up smelled. That spicey, vinegary mix of brine with veggies was unmistakeable to my brain. In particular, the day I made pickled beets brought back a lot of memories for me. Memories of absolutely hating their taste. Memories of having to “taste it because you don’t know what you like”. Memories of trying to cut a pickled beet and having it slide onto my lap, hoping my mom didn’t notice but knowing full well that stain was just NOT going to come out easily.

As an adult, I now love the taste of pickled beets. Maybe it has something to do with lots of home-cooked meal memories from growing up. Maybe it has something to do with me being able to cut the beets without it getting messy. It definitely has something to do with how beautiful they look, both in a jar and on the plate.

Richly coloured pickled beets in pint jars.

Beets that I use for pickling are not much bigger than two inches diameter. Petite, easily pickled without cutting them up, and pretty when served in a bowl during dinner.

These cleaned beets have their stems and roots left on to prevent bleeding while being cooked (boiled) for 30 minutes.

Boiling the beets precooks them to prepare them for pickling, and allows the skins/stems/roots to be removed quite easily.  After cooking, their colour changes already. The beets below still have their skins, stems, and roots.

Beets cooling after being boiled for 30 minutes.

Trimming off the stems, roots, and peeling off the skins reveals an even more beautiful colour to these beets.

Beets ready and waiting to be processed with brine, then put into jars for pickling.

The brine for pickling beets contains a very different ratio of vinegar to water than the dill pickle recipe from past posts. There’s much more vinegar in this brine than water.

You can see the pickling spice in the brine. The recipe called for the spice to be placed in a cheesecloth bag. Rather than use cheesecloth, I strain out the spice after processing.

I had 2.6kg of beets, and this yielded 9 pint jars of pickled beets.

Nine pint jars of pickled beets cooling on cork trivets.

These should add some colour and flavour to winter meals!