People seem to fall into two categories: they either love beets, or they hate them.
Ever since I was a kid, I have fallen squarely into the “love them” category. I didn’t think it was possible to improve on them.
But then I discovered lacto-fermented beets and found that it was.
Beets are back in season here, so it’s time to replenish my supply of sour beets. They are great in most of the same places you would use sauerkraut.
But my favorite way to use fermented beets is in borscht – beet soup served hot or cold with yogurt or sour cream. So many live, active cultures in one meal! I’ll post a recipe for borscht on Sunday. In the meantime, keep reading to learn how to ferment your beets.
Don’t deviate from the amount of salt listed in the recipe. This amount of salt allows good bacteria (lactobacilli) to grow while keeping bad bacteria and yeast from spoiling your batch in check. As the beets rest, the lactobacilli naturally present in the environment grow and turn the beets slightly sour. Eating fermented beets is a great way to get more live, active cultures in your diet.
- 3.5 pounds beets
- 2 tablespoons pickling salt (do not use table or iodized salt)
- If you like, you can also add ONE of the following: 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, an inch of fresh ginger, 1 tablespoon allspice , 1 tablespoon peppercorns, OR 1 tablespoon juniper berries
- Wash, peel, and slice the beets into matchstick-sized pieces. (You can grate the beets instead, but this produces a mushier texture in the final product.)
- Mix the beets with the salt so that the salt is evenly distributed, then put the beets into your fermentation vessel, pressing down until the beets start exuding juice.
- Cover and weigh the beets down with a nonreactive dish, a glass jar filled with rocks or glass beads, or a plastic bag field with a brine of 2 1/2 cups water and 1 tablespoon of pickling salt.
- Cover your jar and wait with plastic wrap or a towel to keep dust from getting in. If not using a towel, put the firm into any your pantry or some other place without a lot of light. After a day or so (depending on how warm it is in your house), the beets should have expressed more liquid:
- And then even more:
- If the beets are not covered in liquid within 24 hours, add a little brine (1 tablespoon of pickling salt in 2 1/2 cups water) until the beets are submerged.
- Let ferment for one to four weeks, depending on the weather and how sour you like your beets. Then refrigerate and use.
For more about fermenting vegetables, read my sauerkraut posts.