There’s a brief discussion in The Gefilte Manifesto, a new cookbook featured in the IJN’s Rosh Hashanah Foods section this week, about what to do with leftover pickle brine. Among suggestions like incorporating it into salad dressings and cocktails is the mention that one of the authors likes to drink it straight.
It sounds like an odd suggestion, but the brine left over from these Clove and Spice Pickled Beets is divine. It tastes like a rich, fresh squeezed beet juice with a warmth imparted by the flavors of cloves, allspice, cinnamon and celery. There’s also a slight thickness to the brine, the product of the beets’ juices slowly seeping into the brine.
The beets themselves are a wonderful, tart pickle. They work great with a burger, as part of an antipasti plate or just on their own as a crunchy snack. Beets are one of the symbolic foods eaten on Rosh Hashanah, and the flavor of these pickles make them ideal for this year’s — if current weather predictions are anything to go by — chilly holiday.
(We’ll be testing more recipes featured in our review of the Manifesto, so check back next week.)
Clove and Spice Pickled Beets
- 1½ pounds fresh beets from about 2 lbs. whole beets with tops, save tops for soup recipe
- ½ gallon water
- ½ cup plus 1 tbsp. white vinegar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. whole cloves
- ½ tsp. celery seeds
- ½ tsp. whole allspice berries
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 small cinnamon stick
Slice the beets into 1/4-1/8-inch half-moons, then into quarters if the beets are larger, so that they look like mini pizza slices. While slicing, bring the water to a boil in a large pot.
When the water is boiling, add the beet slices and 1 tbsp. of the white vinegar (the vinegar helps the beets retain their vibrant). Return the water to a boil and cook for about 7 minutes. The beets should be tender, but not fully cooked (a tad bit softer than al dente pasta). Remove from the heat, drain and place the beets in a clean wide-mouthed quart-size jar.
In a small saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients to make a brine. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes.
Remove the brine from the heat. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the hot brine into a glass vessel and immediately pour it into the jar over the beets. You may have some extra brine. Cover the jar and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Let the beets sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours before eating.
Pickled beets will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.