Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Putting up Beets

We have had a really hot and dry start to our summer this year. We generally get a warm May and a wet June before it turns to really hot July and August. Not so this year. We totally skipped spring and ran straight headlong into summer. May was warm and June had over 20 days in a row of over 95 degree heat! July is not doing any better on the heat front and we are happy to see rain clouds, any aday but Wednesday that is since it's market day.

Having said that we generally get two plantings of Kale, Swish Chard, Bok Choi, Beets and Kolrhabi.
We did for go most of those but we did try another planting of beets, we really do go through a bunch of them. They were looking pretty rough so I decided to pull a few to see where we were. Tiny, that's they were. I had watered but not enough it seems so I decided to take a chance and see what we had and just can them.

So I should have taken a before picture to add to the between and afters, beet greens are quite pretty but it was hot and we're were all looking a bit limp by the time I was done so it was skipped.

I know that beets are one of those things you either love or hate, not much middle ground for these guys. My personal opinion is that while they are very pretty plants and roots, they smell like dirt when you cook them and that just turns me off. BUT to each their own, on that note in cause you are on the pro beet side, I'll share my grandmothers recipe with you. This one I have worked out a bit of the trial and error for you already. She was one who used a bit of this and a handful of that, seriously that's how they are written out. And they are only written out because the female grandchildren (there are only two of us) made a fuss about it. And while I'm at it let me admit that no matter how many times I watched her do it, to this day I can not duplicate her biscuits, (it's super simple I know, but maybe when I'm 80 I'll get the hang of it). I'm southern and it's seriously a crime what I can do to a biscuit.

On to beets..This is a pickled beet recipe and is done with a water bath canner. If you don't have a canner any large pot will work. You'll need one large enough to cover your jars by about an inch of water. My mother never owned a canner but used a large stock pot with a round metal rack on the bottom. Canners are cheap and easy to find if you plan on doing much canning, Check walmart and Target as well as amazon for supplies. Jar lifters and a funnel are two other items that make canning much easier than when my grandmother did it and they are widely available with other canning supplies.

 Gather your supplies,other than the beets you'll probably  have all of this on hand already.

You'll need approx:
 8lbs of beets. The smaller the better, less than 3 inches across is best. Larger beets tend to be fibrous.
1 1/2 tsp of Canning Salt.
2 Cinnamon Sticks (you can use a tablespoon powdered if you'd like)
12 Whole Cloves- about 1tsp
12 Whole Allspice Nuts - about 1 tsp
4 Cups of  White Vinegar (5% Acidity)
2 Cups of Sugar ( Splenda can be substituted if you'd like
2 Cups of Water
 4  Medium Onions- This is optional and you can use more if you're an onion fan

On to Processing 
Scrub your beets, they do grow in the ground after all. Trim the greens to an inch or so above the beet, don't cut the top completely off, the beets will "bleed out" when boiled if you do.  Next you'll place your beets in a stock pot with enough water to over them. Boil for 30 minutes or more, they should be fork tender but not soft. Dump the water and place your beets in iced water to stop the cooking process. You'll then want to trim off the tops, peel them or scrap them depending on their size and cut into slices or chunks, your preference. They should look like this:

If you're adding the onions now is the time to get them sliced and ready.

Combine the water, vinegar, salt, spices and sugar in a stock pot and bring it to a boil. Add your Beets and onions if you so chose to the mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. 

This is a great tip that I read about a while back and we use it for lots of things. Find a baby food holder, pictured in the pot below, they are sold at Target and baby supply stores. They will hold a ton of spices, are dishwasher safe and are plastic so it doesn't react to vinegar. You can also use Cheesecloth if you have that handy.

While you are simmering your beets go ahead and heat your jars, we'll be "hot packing" these beets.
Take your jars out and pack the beets only tightly in the jars. Leave a 1/2 inch headspace, generally that's the raised ring on the jar under the screw top. This is used for the expanding liquid during the canning process. After the jars are filled, go ahead and ladle in the hot liquid just enough to cover the beet and leave your headspace. Be sure to wipe your jar rims, this helps to ensure a good seal. Place your lids and screw on your rings finger tight only, don't over tighten.

Place the jars in the canner, and process in boiling water for 30 minutes for pints, if you use Quarts add 5 minutes to your processing time. If you are at higher elevations you will want to add to your time also. I think it is 5 minutes for each 3000 feet you are above sea level. You might want to double check that, we are very low here so I've not had to worry about that.

Once the processing time is up remove your jars and place them in a draft free area, we put them on a table and cover them with a towel. Be Careful they are very hot! We leave them alone for at least 8 hours up to overnight, but we listen for the POP of the lid telling us it has sealed. Give it a week or so to really soak up the flavors and then Enjoy!

 If you have a jar that doesn't seal put it in the fridge and eat over the next few weeks. Canned jars left in a dark place are good for at least a year, but I promise these won't hang around that long.

How pretty are these? I  can't wait to dig in!

Do you have a favorite family recipe you'd like to share. Post your links in the comments Please!
Thanks for stopping by, if you are interested in the crafty side of Our Greene Acre check out my other blog Everything but a Moose.