CSA Week One: Borscht-y Pickled Beets

June 29, 2012 § 4 Comments

I picked up my first share from my first ever CSA! I actually picked it up more than a week ago now, but I wanted to make sure I liked how the recipe turned out first :-) A CSA (community sponsored agriculture – like buying a fraction of a farm) share was my birthday present from Lester this year. I may have hinted strongly that that’s what I wanted, because I’m sure most guys don’t buy most girls vegetables for their birthday. But then again, Lester is not most guys and I am not most girls, so I don’t think he was a bit surprised.

The haul:
Red beets (and I bought extra goldens)
Swiss chard
Romaine
Arugula
Spinach
Strawberries

First off, I made strawberry jam using Pomona’s Universal Pectin, my new best friend, and only a cup of sugar to four cups of mashed strawberries. I mashed them with my hands, which was highly therapeutic and also looked like a scene from a strawberry axe murderer movie. I won’t even post the recipe because I just followed the directions in the Pomona box, and it was that simple. One of the jars unsealed (my first one so far in my whole year of canning) so we ate that one the next day. It tasted like strawberries. Just strawberries. Did I mention I love Pomona pectin?

Then I made a crustless quiche with the beet greens and chard, some cheese, Cajun spice, and some Andouille. The deliciousness of this is self-explanatory.

More watermelon-feta-arugula salad. Somehow there is still more watermelon.

Finally, pickled beets. I love beets in almost any form, but I really love borscht. Yes, my Eastern European Jewish roots are showing. I wanted to try to capture the flavors of borscht but in a form I could put in a jar without a pressure canner. So, I used Joy of Cooking’s basic pickled beet recipe and added what I considered to be borscht-y flavorings. I’m sure there are as many versions of borscht as there are Eastern European grandmothers, but I am a big fan of dill in mine, and some tang from the vinegar. Here goes!

Borscht-y Pickled Beets
Makes 3 pints

8 oz golden beets plus 16 oz red beets, or any combo making up 1.5 pounds
6 oz onions (I had sweet)
2 1/4 cups cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup white sugar
1 T dried dill weed
1 t whole black peppercorns
1 t caraway
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t kosher salt

  • Boil the beets until they are fork-tender, 15-45 minutes depending on the size.
  • Cool in an ice water bath to stop cooking, then slip off the skins.
  • Quarter the beets then slice them about 1/4 inch thick. Do the same with the onions.
  • Bring to a boil the vinegar, water, sugar, and spices (I put them straight in the pot with the vinegar).
  • Pack beets and onions into prepared jars then ladle over them the hot vinegar mix, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
  • Process 30 minutes. Yes, that is a long time. Make sure your water level stays high enough!

I plan to eat these cold, mixed with a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream, for a summery side. You could also heat them with some chicken or beef broth and even add potatoes and carrots for a heartier soup in the winter.

How does your (actual or inner) grandmother make borscht, or pickle beets?

Borscht-y Pickled Beets on Punk Domestics
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§ 4 Responses to CSA Week One: Borscht-y Pickled Beets

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