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Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's Winter ― Beet It

Posted By on Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 5:17 PM

click to enlarge Beets are a year-round presence at local markets. - SEAN TIMBERLAKE
  • Sean Timberlake
  • Beets are a year-round presence at local markets.

Beets. People either love 'em or hate 'em. Personally, I love them, and think that most people who claim to hate them have only had flabby, flavorless slabs from a tin can. Fresh beets are sweet and have a complex, earthy flavor and satisfying, almost waxy texture.

They're one of a handful of vegetables available all year 'round here, but since so many other things are out of season at the moment, perhaps they've caught your eye. Now's a good time to buy a bunch or 10 and put some up for later.

You could just can them straight up. But note that, like most vegetables, beets are a low-acid food, and so cannot be canned by the water-bath method without acidification. So if it's just beets you want, make sure you've got a pressure canner.

However, beets pickle beautifully. They're good at absorbing flavors, like a fairly typical blend of pickling spices, or slightly sweetened with sugar and the licorice snap of fennel.

Because beets have innate sweetness, they can be used in many of the same applications as fruits ― beet chutney, for example, or even a beet jam.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and beet it!

Sean Timberlake is the founder of Punk Domestics, a content and community site for DIY food enthusiasts.

Follow SFoodie on Twitter: @sfoodie.

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