Beetroot Preservation, Pickling, Fermentation…

The weather in Glasgow has been glorious for the past week, bright autumnal sun through the changing leaves of the Horse Chestnut trees. It is starting to have a bit of a chill though, which means the decision to either lift or leave root vegetables – they could be frozen in place very soon. Since I’ve been a bit lazy with picking the Beetroot, there were about 10 left, growing a bit woody in the ground. So, I decided to lift them and preserve them for tangy treats through the Winter.


I have 2 varieties of Beetroot, one seems happier to be big, being stripey and less woody, it also doesn’t lose its colour when boiled (this will be important later…). The second variety is a more traditional, blood red variety whose processing leaves the kitchen looking like a crime scene – it definitely loses colour in water and has beacome a bit woody and tough looking.

Pickling Beetroot

My initial thought was to pickle all of the Beetroot. After reading around, I realised that this was going to be challenging for Beetroot 2. All of the recipes recommend boiling your Beetroots whole and being meticulous about not having any breaks in the skin – this is to prevent the colour draining out. Hmmm, having left the Beetroot in the ground waaay too long, Beetroot 2 had been well nibbled by something – probably mice or voles – meaning that every Beetroot already had multiple breaks in the skin. So, pickling was going to have to be for Beetroot 1, which, as noted above, doesn’t bleed during cooking (the rodents had had their way with a fair amount of Beetroot 1 as well, or maybe it was the rabbit – apparently the allotment has acquired one).


1kg Beetroot

600ml spiced pickling vinegar (I used Cinnamon; Star Anise; Fennel & Mustard seeds and some fresh grated Ginger in the vinegar, bring to a slow boil, leave to cool and strain the spices out before use)

900ml brine: 30z of rock salt in 900ml water

  1. Keep the Beetroot whole if you can… Alternatively, chop in to even sized chunks and place in a pan with the brine, bring to the boil and cook until almost done. (One of the recipes that I read said, until 70% done, with the proviso that you shouldn’t prick with a knife as this breaks the skin – some people have a better psychic link to their Beetroot done-ness that I thought possible.)
  2. Drain the Beetroot and run under a cold tap to help to loosen the skins.
  3. Rub off the skins then chop the Beetroot in smaller chunks or slices
  4. Place the Beetroot in a jar, cover with the cooled vinegar and leave to pickle for at least a month.

Fermenting Beetroot

Well, this one is more of an experiment for my blood red Beetroot, I’ll know how well it has worked over the next week. I had a quick look around for recipes and then used the method for Kimchi that I’ve always found effective – fingers crossed.



Beetroot          Salt         Bottled water      Flavourings (optional)

  1. Finely slice the Beetroot
  2. Massage the Beetroot with rock salt
  3. Leave in a bowl with a smaller bowl weighted on top for a couple of hours
  4. Transfer the salted Beetroot and any extracted liquid to a jar
  5. Add flavourings if you like – I used Oregano because it goes well with Beetroot and we had loads of it
  6. Press down on the Beetroot to get it under the level of the liquid
  7. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the Beetroot, add a brine made with bottled water (tap water in the UK contains Chlorine which inhibits fermentation)
  8. Seal and leave for a week at room temperature, checking each day whether the Beetroot needs pushed back under the liquid. When it starts to bubble, that’s fermentation starting, I usually put a bowl under the jar to catch any overflow.
  9. When it’s fermented to your taste, transfer to the fridge and eat as a condiment or side dish.

Now all there is to do is wait…



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