Saturday, July 7, 2007

My Beets Are In A Pickle

Pickled beets have always been one of my favorite things. My mom used to buy the little canned round ones, pour them and their juice into a container, add vinegar and sugar, toss in a few hard-boiled eggs and let them sit in the refrigerator for a few days. Then we'd have us a beet and egg fest.

I would have been perfectly content to eat those pickled canned beets the rest of my life and then Mom went and grew some in her garden and pickled those. Yum-meeeee! They were so good that I was sure there was never any way that I could be talented enough to grow my own and pickle them like she did. After all, my mom is a gourmet cook. Really. She makes Beef Wellington and stuff like that.

But last year, I thought I'd give it a try. I bought some seeds at Kitchen Garden Seeds - 'Bull's Blood' - and planted them in the neighbor's garden plot. That's right, the neighbor's. You see, I didn't plan things very well last year and I ran out of room in our own garden, so I walked over to Tom's house and made him an offer.

"Hey, Tom. If we work up your garden and leave room enough for your tomato plants (that was all he usually planted), could we plant some things there? We could share the harvest, too." Tom enthusiastically said, "Go for it. That garden will never look so good."

I think Tom had visions of a meticulously tended plot of lush, leafy green vegetables, but I'm sorry to say that it was just too easy to forget about them over there and the weeds soon took over. We weren't able to do any watering either, nor had the soil been amended so it was pretty much hard clay. Still, we managed to have a small beet crop, as well as some melons and cherry tomatoes.

Mom, your pickled beet secret is out. While I still think you're the best cook I know, I also now know that raising and pickling beets is one of the easiest gardening exercises there is. Actually, I think you told me that, when I asked you if it was difficult, but they tasted so good I didn't believe you.

I think I got about five quarts of pickled beets from last year's crop. Romie and I both love them, so they didn't last too long. This year, we planted them in our own garden and we'll have another yummy beet session soon.

When I planted them, I tried to space the seeds so that I wouldn't need to thin them. I didn't thin them last year, which is why the majority of them didn't grow to be all that large. It's just so hard for me to pull out a perfectly live plant and discard it, even for the good of the ones that are left. Even with spacing the seeds, I need to do the same this year, and I'm having the same darn problem. It just goes against everything I have, to thin anything. But I eventually learned to pinch back the chrysanthemums, so someday I'll master the art of thinning, too.

I pulled a couple of beets a few days ago and several more yesterday. Today I'm going to pickle these, because my mouth is already watering, just thinking about how good they're going to taste.


Anonymous said...

Pickled beetroot is one of my favourites too. I also like to roast beetroot. I was really looking forward to beetroot as I had lots growing in my garden but then we had the flood and my whole harvest has gone. I will just have to wait for next year, but in the meantime enjoy your photos and posts. Thanks.
Sara from farmingfriends

Stacey Renee said...

My husband's family loves the pickled beets and eggs. I had never had it til a couple years after we were married and we went to Grandma Wilhite's for Thanksgiving. I think it's an acquired taste. =]

Kylee, I sent you an email in regards to some questions I have about your photography and posting it. Well,I did not include all the questions, but I would appreciate a response, if you have time! My name will show up as Stacey E. Wilhite, incase it is sent to bulk mail. Thank you!

Kylee Baumle said...

Hi Stacey,

You're right. It did go to bulk mail! I just found it and I'm headed now to answer it. Thanks for alerting me to it!

I grew up with pickled beets, and must have liked them right off, because I can't remember ever not liking them. That's not the case with broccoli, though. I used to HATE it. Now I love it, although it has to be cooked and with butter and salt (cheese works for me, too).

Muum said...

umm, pickled beets w/ eggs! I had those growing up, too.. an Ohio thing, or MidWest? I was surprised to find out that not everyone ate them, or had ever seen them (for ex, my hubby who grew up in CA thought they were freakish) yum, yum, and beets are super easy to grow, we are trying some golden ones this year.

Kylee Baumle said...

Ooooh, Muum, you'll have to let me know how those golden beets taste!

I only like pickled beets. I've eaten them cooked and warm, but I'm not fond of the taste.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Pickled beets, yum, yum! Lovely photo, how do you keep them so weed free?

Robin's Nesting Place said...

It's not just a midwestern thing because we do the pickled beets and eggs in the south too. I've never had home grown pickled beets before, I bet they are good.

Connie said...

I have no problem thinning beets, because I love steamed beet greens, with butter and salt!
I make 'fake' pickled beets by boiling the beets, then slicing them and marinating in balsamic vinegar, garlic and a little olive oil. Then toss them on top of fresh salad greens & arugula, along with sliced red onion, feta or goat cheese and sliced almonds. Yummy!

Petunia's Gardener said...

My beets are cooking as I write! I have some memories of pickled beets I didn't like so I've been eating mine just cooked. This week, I did try a pickled recipe with a nice variety of spices too and loved it. So now I'm cooking a supply for the week.

Apparently, what seems like a beet seed is actually a seed grouping of 3-7 seeds so they sprout up in groups like they do. I thinned some but then tried transplanting some to thin out the original row. It seems to have worked. It delayed the transplants growth a little so I have more beets and over a longer time than I would have from a single, thinned, sowing. I'm still guessing about how tell when they are ready to harvest. All have been good so far so maybe they are flexible.

Loved the neighbor's garden part of the story too. - Paula

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