Fine Cooking (July 2014)
Oh beets, it must be so hard to be you.
You're loved, you're hated, you're worshipped, you're scorned. You're "sweet like candy" to some but "taste like dirt" to others.
It's no secret that we're in the love camp when it comes to beets. And these Wine-Pickled Beets are more validation of our beet love.
It turns out that a drunk beet is a good beet.
If you were to go rummaging through our fridge in the summer, you'd find a hodgepodge of CSA vegetables, random leftover ingredients from recipe experiments (some homemade mayo here, some adobo sauce there, miso, miso and even more miso) and lots of pickled stuff.
We rarely "can" in big batches and in such a way that produces shelf-stable items capable of long-term storage. (Tomatoes and the occasional jams are the exception.) Most of our canning and preserving happens in small batches, with foods that are intended to be eaten within a relatively short amount of time.
These Wine-Pickled Beets are an excellent example. With just a bit of work, they make three pints of beets that are meant to be consumed within six weeks. It's not a full-scale canning project, just a small effort that turns beets into something special that can be savored throughout the summer.
Pickling these beets is messy (a sad truth about beets that we can not argue with: handling them is a mess) but not terribly so. Wear some gloves to keep your hands from being stained, and use a cutting board that doesn't easily stain. The rest -- boiling, peeling, and brining in a jar -- is incredibly easy.
When you show up at a friend's house with a beautiful red jar of beets in tow, you'll instantly be elevated to domestic goddess status.
Pickle on, friends.
Yields about 1-1/4 quarts
2 lb. trimmed red beets (about 5 medium)
1 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 whole allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1 tsp. kosher salt
Put the beets in a 4-quart pot, add water to cover, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the beets are crisp-tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Peel and halve the beets. Slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and distribute among three 1-pint jars or other sealable nonreactive containers.
In a 2- to 3-quart nonreactive saucepan, bring the wine, vinegar, orange juice, sugar, allspice, cloves, and salt to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 5 minutes.
Pour the liquid over the beets to cover. Let sit, uncovered, at room temperature for 2 hours to cool and pickle the beets. Serve, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make Ahead Tips: The pickles can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 6 weeks