My husband loves pickled beets. But the kind he grew up with came from the grocer, complete with vinegar, sugar, preservatives, and more. If you are trying to replace store-bought with healthier alternatives, try this recipe for lacto fermented beets. It will make your day.
Fermented beets combine the warm flavors of fall spices with the rich sweetness of a full flavored root crop. In canned pickled beets, the beets are most often preserved with cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. It follows that a naturally-fermented version should bring the same warmth to your table.
Fall spices are perfect for fermenting because most come in convenient sizes for adding to a jar. A whole cinnamon stick, a few allspice berries, and a clove or two can be added whole to your fermentation jar without risk of overpowering your ferment. Using whole spices rather than ground means that you have less mess and your ferments won’t be gritty from all the ground spices.
Nutmeg also makes a great accompaniment, but a whole nutmeg is a bit much for any single recipe.I highly recommend grating your own fresh nutmeg into recipes. At the end of every nutmeg, there’s a nubblin that won’t grate without skinning your knuckles. I save those for flavoring mulled cider, or for added flavor in a ferment.
You can ferment your beets raw or cooked. If they’re cooked, you’ll need to add a tablespoon of starter culture from a previous successful ferment, such as sauerkraut. Keep in mind, cooked beets will be very soft, and may only need a short fermentation time. A longer fermentation time helps the flavors and probiotics to penetrate tough root vegetables. Depending on how tangy you like your ferments, longer times will not be necessary for cooked beets.
How to Make Naturally Fermented Spiced Beets for Fall
A Lacto Fermented Beet Recipe
Yield: 1 pint
Fermentation Time: 2-3 weeks for raw, 7-10 days for cooked
- 1.5 cups beets, washed and sliced
- 1 Tb salt
- 1 cup water (approximate)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3-5 allspice berries
- 1-2 cloves
- 1 Tb sauerkraut juice (optional- only if using cooked beets)
- Wash your beets. I prefer to peel them because the exterior can be tough and fibrous. Either cook them or use them raw to your preference.
- Slice beets into rings, matchsticks or simple quarters—however you like.
- Pack the beets into a wide-mouth Mason jar. Leave one to two inches of headspace to allow bubbling during fermentation and space for your glass fermentation weight.
- Add your seasonings whole, including a whole cinnamon stick, allspice berries, and a few cloves.
- Cover with a brine made from one tablespoon salt and one cup of chlorine-free water.
- Allow to ferment on the counter at room temperature for two to three weeks for raw beets, or seven to 10 days for cooked beets. (Remember to add your starter culture from a previous successful ferment if you’re using cooked beets.)
When they’re getting close to done, test the flavor. If you’re happy, place them in the refrigerator to slow fermentation. If you want a stronger flavor, keep them on the counter a few more days.
If you are new to fermented foods, try a Fermentools Starter Kit. It includes everything you need to turn your Mason jar into a fermentation vessel for minimal investment.
Ashley is an off grid homesteader in central Vermont. She is passionate about fermentation, charcuterie and foraging. Read more about her adventures at PracticalSelfReliance.com.