Gracious me, with Thanksgiving in the rear-view mirror, we’re in the thick of the winter holiday season now, aren’t we? Are you feeling swamped already? Take a few minutes to make a batch of brine-fermented beets this week, and soothe your frazzled nerves and over-indulged belly with a glass of beet tonic in the coming days. Here’s how I’ve been making beet tonic lately. These instructions are very loosely based on the beet kvaas recipe in the Shockey’s Fermented Vegetables.
2 – 3 medium beets* (about 1.5 lbs)
1 quart brine (3 teaspoons sea salt dissolved into 1 quart filtered water – beets needs a very salty brine)
Juice of 2 lemons (added post-fermentation)
Thoroughly scrub your beets and trim the stalks and rootlets.** Peel the beets, cut in half, and cut the halves into ½” slices. Cut the slices into sticks. Wedge the beet sticks into a wide-mouth quart jar and top with brine. Store any unused brine in the fridge for up to a week. Put the fermentation jar on a plate to catch any potential spillage, and place on the counter, out of direct sunlight. The beets should stay submerged, but you may need to tamp them down or add a little more brine over the next few days. Also, our homestead is MUCH cooler now, which means that ferments take longer to get going than they did in the summer. Start sampling in five days, or whenever active fermentation seems to have slowed down considerably. When the brine and the beets are pleasantly sour, add the juice of two lemons, cover with a lid, and store in the fridge.
Take a small glass of the beet tonic once a day during the coming days of madness. For best results, drink the tonic as you stand at your back door, looking out into the yard. This is even more curative if it happens to be raining whilst you’re sipping. For those of you who live in colder climes, I suggest that you watch the weather from a closed window, with a thick cardigan around your shoulders and warm slippers on your feet. That to-do list can wait another few minutes while you finish your glass, can’t it??
And that’s it for today, my pets. I hope that you and yours had as lovely a Thanksgiving as me and mine did, and that you’re not plotting too much madness for the upcoming holidays. I think I’ve got a good handle on the next few weeks, but goodness, I do need to mail our Chanukah cards PDQ, yes? And then there are the Christmas cards to send, those felted-sweater fingerless mitts to figure out, the handmade-holiday project list to finalize, and … and I think I’ll go have a glass of beet tonic now! With much fondness and just slightly frazzled, yr little munakins
* I prefer to purchase beets that still have their greens attached, which is a great indicator of the freshness of the beets. The greens and stalks sauté up very nicely in olive oil, especially if you add thinly sliced garlic to the pan and finish the dish with lemon juice or chunks of preserved lemon. Yum!
** Put the stalks aside to add to the fermenting jar, if there’s room after the beet pieces have been added. If there’s no room, use the stalks in a sauté, as described above.