My son just gave me a bag of beets from his garden and I wanted to try fermenting some. But a quick scan of the internet turned up nothing for fermenting plain ol’ beets. I could find beet salad, beets pickled with vinegar, or those with all manner of herbs and seasonings added. I think Chris was reading my mind when she submitted this post. Thanks, Chris.
Fermented beets are one of the easiest ferments to do. The raw beets are firm and crisp so there is no risk of a limp, insipid finish. The natural sugar in the beets means that even when no additional sugar is added to the ferment the outcome is slightly sweet and tart. Because of this natural sugar, the beet ferment can be fast in warm ambient temperatures. Monitor the progress of your ferment and refrigerate as soon as the active bubbling stops inside the jar.
Beets are a fall ferment. While they are available in three seasons, they are at their sweetest and best in the fall, when the leaves begin to turn. If you are a gardener, this is the ideal time to harvest beets and ferment them. The beets have their best concentration of natural sugar and their best texture and flavor after their leaves deepen in color and begin to turn maroon, after a frost. While you can still make fermented beets in winter, they are drier and lose some of their crispness after they’ve been in storage for a few months.
How to Make Fermented Beets
An Amazing Fermented Beet Recipe
• 4 cups beets, peeled and sliced
• 1 ½ Tbsp. natural salt
• 2 Tbsp. starter or whey*
• Fermentools kit
• Wide mouth quart jar
Wash the beets. Peel and slice them as thick as you want them. I usually aim for ¼ inch thickness. Place them in a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt. Cover the bowl and allow them to sit for two hours to release beet juice.
Remove the beets from the bowl and place in a sanitized wide mouth mason jar. Include the juice. Add the starter from a successful batch of fermented vegetables or whey. Top up the jar with filtered water.
Place the Fermentools glass weight in the mouth of the jar, ensuring that the brine comes over the weight in the jar and the beets remain below the weight.
Place the Fermentools fermentation lock on the jar. Set the jar on a plate. Set the plate out of direct sunlight on a kitchen counter or somewhere that you can monitor it.
The beets will begin to bubble after 24 to 48 hours, depending on your ambient temperature. When the bubbling stops, the beets are ready to refrigerate. This takes an average of three to six days, depending on ambient temperatures. Remove the glass weight and fermentation lock. Replace the lid with a mason jar lid and ring or plastic cap.
Fermented beets can be eaten immediately; however, they will taste better after a month in the fridge. This waiting period gives the lactic acid bacteria time to permeate throughout the ferment, improving the flavor and acidity of the fermented beets.
Pickled Beet Serving Suggestions
Once they learn how to make fermented beets, many people love to eat them right out of the jar, with no added fuss. Some of my readers told me that they don’t share, they like them so well plain. However, if you have a lot of beets and need a few serving ideas here they are:
• Serve as a side dish to smoked sausages, perogies, and caramelized onions.
• Enjoy them on corn tortillas with shrimp or fish, pickled onions, feta cheese, tomatoes, and cilantro.
• Serve them on a bun with spicy sausages, fried onions, and sauerkraut.
• Add to coleslaw for color and pizzazz.
• Serve as a topping on Swedish Lindstrom burgers, a beet and ground beef burger served in Sweden, Finland, and Russia.
• Enjoy in a salad with goat cheese and maple candied pecans.
• Slice onto a bun with roasted portabella mushrooms, goat cheese, and caramelized onions.
• Whirl in a food processor with mashed potatoes for a unique twist on potato salad. Dress with mayonnaise.
• Serve them with hash brown potatoes and cubed meat, called pyttipanna in Sweden.
Other uses for brine
When the jar is empty of beets, don’t waste the juice. Add a few hard boiled eggs to the brine and ferment in the refrigerator for a week. The resulting ruby pickled eggs make an attractive and unique presentation on a deviled egg tray.
*Fermentools does not support the adding of whey to ferments. While some folks like to do it to promote different strains of bacteria, it is not necessary.
To find all your fermenting equipment needs visit the Fermentools Store. Specially designed fermentation lids for Mason jars, glass weights, salt and more can be found. It’s your one-stop-fermenting-shop.
Chris is a teacher, author, gardener, and herbalist with 30+ years’ of growing herbs and formulating herbal remedies, skin care products, soaps, and candles. She teaches workshops and writes extensively about gardening, crafts, scratch cooking, fermentation, medicinal herbs, and traditional skills on her blog at JoybileeFarm.com. Chris is the author of The Beginner’s Book of Essential Oils, Learning to Use Your First 10 Essential Oils with Confidence and Homegrown Healing, from Seed to Apothecary. Her newest book is “The Beeswax Workshop, How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms and More” with Ulysses Press (2017). Chris is a contributing writer to The Biblical Herbal Magazine, The Fermentools Blog, and the Attainable Sustainable blog. Her books are available on Amazon. Chris lives with her husband Robin in the mountains of British Columbia on a 140-acre ranch where they raise lamb. They have 3 adult children and 3 granddaughters.