Monday, June 28, 2010

Eat Beets: Drinks, Salads, and Salt-Fermentation


This weekend I finally harvested my remaining Bull's Blood beets. Not only did I grow a ton in my garden, they've been coming in the One Straw CSA delivery pick up each week. I put the recently harvested beets in the fridge, but decided to break into my stash of previously pickled beets for eating. So what to do with all of these beets?

Drink them!

That's right. On Saturday the heat index was over 100 degrees here in Baltimore City. Way to hot to do anything like make roasted beets. And I certainly didn't feel like eating a heavy dish of root vegetables when it was sweltering outside. All I wanted was something light and liquidy.

So this easy, blender-free beet smoothie was the invention I came up with. Here's the smoothie before I mixed it up:



It may sound strange, but I really like drinking the liquid from pickled beets. It's just apple cider vinegar, beet juice, salt, and maybe some sugar. Very refreshing and healthy. And also a great way to make use of the pickle juice!

I mixed in plain yogurt with the beet juice to make the drink a little more substantial.

Since the yogurt and beet juice were both sour, I added a little honey to sweeten it up. Just mix up with a spoon. No electricity for a blender needed!

Canning more pickled beets was also out of the question, since I really didn't want to be boiling huge kettles of water in my kitchen. A discussion board on the Baltimore Foodmakers reminded me that salt fermentation is another way to preserve vegetables. And the great thing is, I didn't have to turn on the stove.

Wild Fermentation to the rescue! I don't have the book in front of me, but I believe I added about one tablespoon of sea salt to one (?) cup of water.

In one jar I put chopped up beet leaves and poured the brine over top, making sure the leaves were pressed down under the liquid. I sealed the jar and put it in my fridge for a week.



The liquid from these salt-fermented beet leaves tastes very beet-y and is just a little salty. I like pouring some of it into a glass of water to make the H20 more exciting to drink. Plus the salt probably replenishes everything I've been sweating out.

This drink probably won't please everyone, but if you like the flavor of beets, you'll like it. And it's an equally lovely shade of magenta!



In another jar I put in golden beets that I had sliced up into matchsticks (Which I'm very proud of! The shapes are lovely and make this jar look very classy.)



For additional flavor I threw in some coriander seeds (that's what is floating on top.) A few little cloves, pieces of star anise, and a black cardamom pod went in there too. Remember, that's in addition to the tablespoon of salt and cup of water.

This jar of golden beets was sealed up for a week in my fridge as well. Of course, you could leave these salt-fermented foods in your fridge for much longer. Some people do this right on their counters, but since it's been so hot I felt it would be better to let things ferment slowly in the fridge.

They made a great crunchy addition to the creaminess of a potato salad with yogurt-pesto dressing.



The pesto was made with arugula and spinach from One Straw, and the potatoes were also from the CSA pickup. Makes a really great cold salad for these hot summer days.

Here it is all mixed up:



I love growing beets because you get to eat both the root and the leaf, and they're really delicious pickled which makes them an easy item to can and store for eating year round.

If you think you don't like beets, maybe give them another try! There are many ways to eat them.

I'd love to hear some of your ways to eat seasonally and creatively!

1 comment:

mscharmschic said...

The beet smoothies sounds really good! I think I need to give that a try.

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