Saturday, August 22, 2009
I have a confession to make. I am a canning addict and I've been on a binge. I've tried to blame it on my CSA - they just keep giving me all of this amazing produce - too much amazing produce, and there's no way the two of us could stuff it all in our stomach but I just can't let it go to waste. But to be fair, if I didn't have the fabulous organic pick-up every week I would still be canning up a storm. It's something about the gorgeous jewel boxes of produce stands this time of year, the seductive smooth skins of tomatoes, berries, corn, beets, peaches, peppers, melons, squash, etc, etc in every color of the rainbow. It's too good to last, but it makes you want to preserve its beauty forever.
Plus there's the whole vinegary pickley fantasticness that we've all been in love with since we were kids that stopped dead in our tracks at the site of the big pickle barrel in the country store. Really - what doesn't taste better pickled?
So you'll be hearing a lot about my canning problem in the next few weeks. I've already attacked bread and butter zucchini pickles, peach raspberry jam, slow roasted tomatoes, pickled grapes, and black raspberry lime preserves. Coming up next will be homemade jarred roasted yellow peppers and a corn and tomatillo relish. Who knows where I'll go from there (although the upcoming school year may slow me down a bit).
But now, for my first pickling foray, my favorite pickled classic, the sweet yet sour ruby slices of the humble beet.
Citrusy Pickled Beets-makes 2 pints
6-8 medium to large beets
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup orange muscat vinegar (of course you can substitute white vinegar)
1/2 cup sugar
zest and juice of a lemon
2 sprigs thyme
Prepare a boiling water canner and sterilize 2 pint jars (I do this in the dishwasher on a sterilize cycle). Cover lids with water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer - do not boil!
Scrub beets and put in a pot, covered with water. Boil until almost fork tender. Rinse in cold water until cooled, slipping off the skins. Slice 1/4 inch thick.
Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Add the beet slices and boil for 10 minutes.
Ladle into sterilized jars and run a small spatula down the insides of the jars to clear any air bubbles. Leave 1/2 inch of head space. Clean the rims and top with lids - process for 25 minutes in a boiling water bath. Remove from the canner and let cool on a kitchen towel overnight. Store for up to a year and enjoy!