Of the many vegetables Mike Henry has fermented since he took up the activity two years ago, sour beets are his favorite. He uses this recipe, devised by Sandor Ellix Katz, and combines the result with grated carrots and sauerkraut for a weekday lunch.
Once you've filled a big bowl with the grated beets, you won't believe a 1-gallon crock will hold them all. But tamp the beets down well, and you'll find that everything fits nicely.
If you peel the beets under cool running water and wash your hands immediately after tamping, you shouldn't end up with red fingers. But if you want to avoid even the smallest chance of an unintentional dye job, wear food-safe gloves.
Servings: 4 cups
- 5 pounds beets
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon caraway seed
Have a very clean 1-gallon crock or jar at hand.
Use a hand grater or the grater attachment of a food processor to shred the beets coarsely or finely, as you prefer. Transfer the grated beets to a large bowl as you go, sprinkling with salt to taste; the process will work with more or less salt. Add the caraway seed and combine.
Transfer the beets to the crock or jar, adding just a bit at a time and tamping it down using your fists or a sturdy kitchen implement. That will help force dark, thick juice out of the beets.
Cover the beets with a plate or other lid that fits snugly inside the crock or jar, allowing the juice to flow over the plate. Place a clean weight (such as a glass jug filled with water) on top. Cover with a cloth to keep dust and flies out.
As the beets ferment, some of the brine might evaporate. Be sure to keep level of the brine above the plate, checking every couple of days. If necessary, add brine, which you can make by dissolving 1 tablespoon of salt into 1 cup of water.
The beets will be done in 1 to 4 weeks, depending on how sour you like them. They can be eaten raw or used to make borscht.
Adapted from WildFermentation.com blogger Sandor Ellix Katz.
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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