trying new things: phat beets

pickled beets, canned

I’ve been trying to open myself up to new experiences and that tends to mean doing things that are pretty frickin’ scary. Though, I did just see 127 Hours recently, I think that experience is one I can live without, thank you very much. But I did speak in front of a crowd of 1,200 people last week and talked about my inspiration regarding food and food blogging at PechaKucha. And it turns out, speaking in front of a crowd of strangers – who thankfully laughed at all the right places – wasn’t as scary as I thought! It was actually all kinds of amazing and I’m so thankful for the opportunity do to so. Conquering a crazy fear? Check! If you are interested in seeing my presentation slides, you can view them here via slideshare. Slide 5 is static over there, but at PechaKucha it was a speeded up silent video. You can see the actual one minute and 40 second movie (with sound!) over on YouTube. It’s called A Dream of Donuts and I made it with a friend in 2000 and we edited with 2 VHS machines ‘cuz that’s how we rolled back then. It’s short and sweet and a little bit fun too. Here are the links to the recipe for my mom’s vanilla chocolate chip bundt cake and the recipe for chocolate on toast that I mentioned at PechaKucha if you feel like doing a little baking.

Oh hey, let’s talk about canning pickled beets! Okay? Okay!

beets about to be pickled

Pickling is fine. No big thing, right? I mean I’ve quick pickled all kinds of vegetables and even made some apricot jam over the summer. But I have never tried canning and processing because it seemed like such a frightening process. And like all things that seem scary at first, it turned out not to be that scary after all. All you need is a bit of preparation – and equipment. I’m lucky because I scored a canning bath pot and jar rack at a garage sale and I found some canning tongs at a thrift store. I also used a wire cookie rack at the bottom of the pot to make sure that the jars didn’t touch the bottom because if glass jars touch the bottom of the pot, they’ll crack and explode. Hence the cookie rack. If you’re feeling more DIY, just create a rack of your own out of tin foil. Improvisation is key! You will also need 6 pint jars. Thrifted jars are fine but they must be clean and free of nicks and chips, but they don’t have to be brand new. However, your snap lids and rings should be, so don’t skimp there!

pickling beets - phat beets

Once you’ve got all the equipment handy, all you need to do is make sure you’ve got your ingredients ready and read over the directions at least twice. Seriously, this will help you feel calm and prepared. If you’ve never canned anything before, peruse some online guidelines to get familiar with the task at hand. It will sound more scary than it actually is. Trust me.

canned beets

You know you’ll have escaped the threat of botulism once you hear a very satisfying pop-pop-popping from each jar as they cool. It’s the best sound you’ve ever heard and it goes so well with that sigh of relief. To be sure that your jars have processed correctly, you can tap the lids with a spoon to hear a high pitched ring. The lids will also be slightly concave, so the visual clues with the audio clues will have you totally relived. Phew!

Now, regarding this beet recipe….while it was very tasty, the recipe itself was a bit totally off. One, it calls for a crap-load of beets – 4.5 lbs to be exact. And there’s no way that that amount of beets could have fit into my 6 pint jars (or the 5 pint jars + 2 half-pint jars I used). I had a ton of beets and onions leftover, not a problem since I love beet salad, but a complication nonetheless. In the recipe below you’ll find that I reduced the amount of beets and onions, but I just guessed at the amount figuring 3 lbs and 1 onion should do just fine (if this is not the case, please let me know). I loved the taste of the cinnamon and ginger and rosemary together but I also tend to enjoy a sweeter pickled beet. So bump up the brown sugar from 1/3 cups to 2/3 cups if you want your pickles a wee bit sweeter. Your call.

phat beets with honey & feta

These pickled beets make fine gifts. I’ve given away a few of the jars already and have received rave reviews. While the beets make a fine side dish, I think they are pretty perfect on their own. Adding a drizzle of local honey and a handful of salty crumbled feta certainly does things up right.

elsewhere: Don’t be a hater! Find the love for some spicy and salty roasted brussels sprouts over at Poppytalk. You won’t be disappointed.

pickled phat beets

15 comments to “trying new things: phat beets”

  1. 1
    Lucy @ Lucyeats   November 28, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    What a great idea to gift them as Christmas presents -how do they taste compared to storebought canned beets?

  2. 2
    Joanne (Bijoux)   November 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    It’s awesome that you challenged yourself to take part in Pecha Kucha. I’m not sure I would have had the guts to stand in front of 1500 people and speak. I’ve always shied away from being in the spotlight. Oh and I love your uber cute donut dream film! It’s amazing that you edited it with 2 VCRs. I had no idea you could do that!!

    I’m so envious of all the inexpensive canning supplies you managed to thrift. Your pickled beets look incredible with the crumbled feta on top. You sure you’re not Greek? I was raised on boiled beets with feta and olives. Yum!!!

  3. 3
    Joanne   November 29, 2011 at 3:19 am

    congrats on really putting yourself out there! Public speaking is no easy task, but it helps to be talking about something you’re so passionate about!

    I’ve yet to really delve into the world of pickling or canning…but I do love the sound of these beets!

  4. 4
    Meghan   November 29, 2011 at 4:26 am

    The popping sound is the greatest! I’m so glad these worked out despite the crazy measurements. Beets were one thing I didn’t try this year (also my first year canning!) – I’m going to try these now for sure. They sound wonderful. Nice work!

  5. 5
    kickpleat   November 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Lucy, I don’t think they compare to store-bought beets – though it’s been years since I’ve had any! They are delicious and despite the long instructions, simple to make.

    Thanks Bijoux! I’m so glad I decided to do it. And I love anything with feta 🙂

    Thanks Joanne, it was a great experience and these beets are delicious.

    Meghan, yes to the popping sound!! Thanks for the encouragement!

  6. 6
    Kasey   November 29, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I’ve pickled beets once before and they were…all right. Whenever I have pickled beets, I’m always reminded of how much I love them and should make them at home on a regular. Def. good to try new things! I’d like to try this soon!

  7. 7
    NicoleD   November 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I have so many things to say about this post! I am so happy to hear that your presentation went well (although, I didn’t doubt it would!).

    I had no idea that beets, feta and honey was a thing, but now I must try that! These look fantastic!

  8. 8
    alexis   November 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    yaay for overcoming preserving and processing fears! i’ve always wanted to try that recipe. 🙂

  9. 9
    Ashley   November 30, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Mmm I’m drooling!! I love beets in all forms and am especially enamored with all things pickled right now.

  10. 10
    Helene   November 30, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    We usually make a simple recipe for our beets. Never with ginger. That must have such a different taste. Looks so good.

  11. 11
    Eileen   November 30, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Yay, pickled beets! My mom used to make them from homegrown garden beets, and I have to say they were possibly the best pickled vegetable ever. I really need to make myself some of these. (I may stick to golden beets, however, so as to minimize the kitchen looking like a murder scene…)

  12. 12
    renee@sweetsugarbean   November 30, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Congrats on the public speaking – sounds like you did amazing! I’m not much of a preserver girl, though I do quite enjoy others’ jars of goodness. My aunts make fantastic beet pickles, and there’s nothing quite like that colour, is there?

  13. 13
    kickpleat   December 1, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Kasey, I’m all for trying new things! And yes, pickled beets are sooo good.

    Oh thank you NicoleD! I’m so relived the presentation went so well and I’m so glad it’s over now. Phew! I didn’t know honey and feta and beets were a thing until I tried it myself. It is!!

    Thanks Alexis, I hope my experience with it can spur you on.

    Me too Ashley, I love all pickles….especially these pretty beets.

    Helene, it’s really lovely and subtle, not too strong. I think you’d like them.

    Homegrown is always best, Eileen. I’m surprised that there wasn’t so much mess here, I guess I kept a tidy and tight beet ship!

    Thank you, Renee, the talk went really well. And the beets, well, they’re as pretty as they are tasty!

  14. 14
    ayset   December 21, 2011 at 1:47 am

    If you love beets here is another recipe with oriental tuch.
    You prepare the beets , boil till smooth.
    Mİx well tahini, lemon juice,garlic,cutted parsley and new onions, cumin and some paprika and some walnut.It will be a little bit thick sauce. Then pour on cutted beet. Its delicious.

  15. 15
    kickpleat   January 2, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Thanks ayset for the recipe!

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