Saturday, 6 June 2020

Beetroot Season! Recipe 2: Quick Pickled Beetroot Stems

Quick Pickled Beetroot Stems

It's beetroot season! Our local fruit and veg store has the most amazing, gigantic bunches available, so last weekend I grabbed two. There is nothing like fresh beetroot, and even better if it includes the greens, so I wanted to share three recipes to make use of the roots, stems, and greens to make the most.

When I get the beetroots, I will immediately wash them and divide them into their constituent parts. The roots, I'll put in the fridge and save to make borscht or roast vegetables: they'll tend to last 2 - 3 weeks before they begin to dry out. The stems, I'll pickle quickly, as once separated from the root, they will become flaccid within a day or two. The greens, I'll seal in a container with some paper towels, and use them within a few days; thankfully, braising the greens to use in pierogi means they're a little more forgiving if you keep them slightly beyond their prime.

Last week, I posted a recipe for borscht, using the roots/bulbs. Next, up the plant: the stems!

When I first started on my beetroot adventure (if you can believe it, I used to HATE beetroot), I would always sauté the stems and greens together but, because the stems tend to hold their structure really well, even with long cooking, it would make my braised greens a bit chewier than I'd like; while the greens would shrink and become beautifully silky, the stems would stay the same, until they greatly outnumbered the greens!

So, this time, I thought I'd find a different way of using them, especially considering how many there are! Part of the reason so many people seem to dislike beetroot is because of the vinegary, limp canned beetroot we often grown up with; though these quick pickled stems are vinegary, they have a delightful and flavourful crunch, and can give texture and taste to all manner of things, from garnishing soups, to topping sandwiches... anything you can imagine!

For this recipe, you will need a glass jar; the size and/or amount you'll need will depend on how many stems you have. To sterilise the jars, place them in the sink and pour boiling water over them; use tongs to turn them around in the boiling water and allow them to sit for a minute or two, then sit on a drying rack until cool enough to handle.

Also, please note this is not a shelf-stable pickle, so you will need to store this in the fridge.

Quick Picked Beetroot Stems
Put 500mL of vinegar (of choice) in a microwave safe container with 1 teaspoon each of salt and sugar. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds, and then stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside.

Take the beetroot stems and slice finely along the them (one direction only; don't mince them!). Place them in the sterilised jar or jars, they should sit just at the line where the jar curves into the lid and not go right to the top, as the vinegar mixture should cover them completely.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the top of the stems until they are just covered. Gently tap the jar to dislodge any air bubbles, then add more until they are completely covered.

Set aside, with the lid off (as the vinegar mixture will still be hot), for 30 minutes or so, until the jar no longer feels hot. Place the lid on and then leave on the bench until the jar is cool enough to place in the fridge. Use within a couple of days; if the stems start to look mushy, compost the lot.

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