Monday, March 27, 2006

Beets Me!

Picture: Combination of caraway pickled beets and onion slices
Beets (link for nutritional info)

I am working on clearing off my canned good shelves and freezer. Today I happened upon a quart of my home canned pickled beets, canned in 2004 - my notes say I did 12 quarts of them that year .... I have three quarts left and now I remember why I didn't plant beets last year. I must use these up by July or dump them, I consider two years safe and beyond that if I didn't eat it in that amount of time, I don't think I will. I have made an Iraqi sweet tart soup that I enjoy using these in. I'll be digging that soon and adding a few beets to my sandwiches and salads and if I make a beet chooclate cake, dumping will not be a problem and I can enjoy a fresh crop this year.

Of course the first choice of a fresh crop of beets is to roast them in a high temperature oven with a little oil and salt, but when I'm in a "pickle" with too many veggies I do just that. I have always been a pickled beet lover, but I don't like the amount of sugar they are usually made with. By now, if you've read my recipes for long you will see that I am a stevia user. ... not just any stevia - KAL stevia extract powder. I've learned that 1 tsp of this is about the same sweetness as 1 cup sweetening power, plus I've never had anyone complain about any off taste when I use this brand. Last season when I had a nice beet crop I saw a recipe for pickled beets that included a generous addition of caraway seed. I was a little leary at first unsure if I would like a heavy caraway, but when tasted them I decided I would never make a "normal" pickled beet again.

This recipe makes 1 Quart jar or two pints, whichever you prefer:
I steam (or waterbath) process these for 10 minutes. I think they have the best flavor after setting for 6 weeks. When the seal is broken they keep ( in the refrigerator for a good long time because of the vinegar. There are link below that discuss the canning process in more detail than what I provide in the recipe.

1 quart beets (about 2 Lbs) , sliced or whole if the are very small
1 small onion thinly sliced
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Cup white vinegar
1/2 C water
1/2 C unrefined sugar (NO SUGAR RECIPE: I substitute with 1/2 tsp Kal stevia and they keep the same, you may even like a little sprinkle more for a sweeter beet)

Sterilize the canning jars and Ball canning lids. Scrub the beets well. Remove the greens, leave about 2" stems. Do not trim the long tap root in order to prevent excess bleeding. Cook the beets in boiling water to cover for 20 - 40 minutes or until the beets test tender to the fork. This will take 20-40 min. Cool the beet, slip off the skin, then slice or dice them. Combine with the onion, caraway, and salt. For each quart of beets, heat the vinegar, water, and sweetener together. While thebrine heats, pack the beets into one quart of two pint jars. Pour hot brine over beets, but leave 1/2 " space at the top of the jar. Seal in hot water bath or steam canner for 10 minutes. Check out a great canning link below. Store in a cool dry place.

My favorite canning site, it's gives me the feel of learning from my grandma.
The steam canner link above is the best price I have found, even with shipping costs! I love my steam canner, it's a big time saver (compared to the water bath canner I used to use) . . . but you must use it with a gas stove or traditional electric stovetop (not ceramic top), which I have at the bakehouse. I also found that as long as boiling water covers the jar for 10 - 15 minutes, the canning lid seals and it's good for storage and with smaller jars I can do this using a big pan and my ceramic stovetop.


SusanV said...

Hi Dori! I just wanted to say that I'm a big fan of KAL Stevia powder, too. I order it in big batches from an online company because it costs twice as much to buy it here. I've been using it for over 6 years now, and I haven't found another stevia that tastes as good. Glad to see that I'm not their only fan!

Amy O'Neill Houck said...

What a great idea--I really need to start clearing out my canned goods cupboard too!

Spice Island Vegan said...

Good job Dori! I am not familiar with canning. In fact I have never done it. We always eat all the vegetables we grow in our garden which is not very big.