Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pickled Beets With Cumin and Cloves

Prior to moving to NYC last summer, we lived in beautiful Williamstown, Massachusetts for two years. Williamstown is the rural town in the western part of the state where Williams College is located (Go Ephs!). It's nestled in the majestic Berkshire Mountains, which are said to have inspired Herman Melville's most famous character, Moby Dick! 

During that time, we were lucky enough to take part in the amazing CSA program at Caretaker Farm. Caretaker was founded in 1969 and is a pioneer in the sustainable food and land stewardship movement. It was also one of the first farms in the country to offer community supported agriculture shares (CSA). Today the apprenticeship program they run for future farmers is more crucial than ever as high costs, artificially cheap competition, and lack of resources (to name just a few factors) lead fewer young people to envision farming as a viable future. Check out this cool organization that's also trying to encourage new farmers - The National Young Farmers' Coalition. Also, to find out more about organic food policy and advocacy in NY state visit NOFA!

It's been about a year since I canned these and I'm so glad i did. I'm sure the fact that I used superb organic beets made this wonderful recipe even more amazing, so if you can buy some lovely organic beets from your local farmer, I would highly recommend it. The buttery, sweet roasted beet flavor mixed with the smokiness of the cumin and tang of the vinegar makes this my - Favorite. Pickled vegetable recipe. Ever!

Pickled Beets With Cumin and Cloves

Recipe from Put 'em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton
There's also a great blog post on this same recipe at Garden of Eating.
(Yields about 3 pint jars)

2 pounds beets (any kind/color), trimmed, roasted, peeled and cut to bite size
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves

Trim and wash your beets and place them in a roasting dish large enough so they're in one layer. Rub them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and cover the roasting dish with foil. Roast the beets at 375F for 45 minutes or so until fork tender. Once the beets are tender and have cooled down enough that you can handle them, rub the skin off. Here's a good how-to video. Cut the beets into bite sized chunks, or however you think they'll look nice, and set them aside while you prep the rest.

Get a large pot of water going on the stove (ideally your canning pot if you plan to process these pickles for long storage). Sterilize your canning jars and lids by submerging them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove them from the hot water with tongs and set them on a clean cloth to cool and drain. 

To prepare the pickle juice, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, cumin, cloves and salt in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until it's in solution and remove from heat.

Pack the beets into your sanitized, warm pint jars leaving an inch of space at the top. Pour the pickle juice over the beets so they're covered but there's still 1/2 inch of left at the top. Use a chopstick or long thin implement to move the beats around allowing the air bubbles to escape. 

Wipe the rim of the jars clean and put the lids on turning until they're just tight (also known as, "finger tight"). You can then either allow them to cool and refrigerate them if you are planing to eat them within a few weeks, or you can use the hot water process method to preserved them for as long as a year, like I did!

To "can" them, submerge the jars in boiling water for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, cut off the heat and let them sit in the hot water for another 5 minutes. Pull the jars out with your tongs and allow to them cool. You should hear the satisfying sucking sound of the jar tops hermetically sealing themselves! If they don't, reprocess with a new lid or just eat the jar right away. Store the pickles in a cool cabinet for up to a year. For a full and detailed demo on canning watch this great video!