Swedish Pickled Beets
The spicy tang of Swedish pickled beets is a flavor that I have grown up with, and it’s one that I particularly crave around the holidays. You can eat them on their own, put them in a sandwich or make a salad out of them. The unique flavor of these pickled beets – called “inlagda rödbetor” in Swedish – comes from the addition of spices. Caraway seeds help to give them that distinctive Scandinavian taste.
This recipe is more of a “quick pickle,” so they are meant to be stored in the refrigerator. Because of all the spices involved, I find that the pickled beets go particularly well with food around the holidays. A bowl of pickled beets is the perfect addition to any Swedish julbord. Plus the color is sure to brighten up a gray afternoon.
The traditional Swedish recipe is made with distilled white vinegar, but I prefer using apple cider vinegar instead, which I find has a more well-rounded flavor. I have also started making mine with local honey for the sweetener, but you can substitute organic cane sugar if you would like.
Red or golden beets? Usually these are made with red beets, but I like to do a combination of both, if nothing else because it makes for a glorious watercolor-like painting on your countertop when you make them. If you use a combination of golden and red beets, after they have sat and marinated, the juice from the red beets will quickly camouflage the golden ones. You won’t even know which is which. All you will know is that they are delicious.
Just after pouring in spice solution.
Beets after 24 hours.
In my opinion, you can never have enough pickled beets on hand (trust me, I eat these like candy), so when I make these I like to make a big batch, enough to fill two big old peanut butter jars. However, you can make half a batch if you only have one jar, or only one pound of beets.
Swedish Pickled Beets
Makes: Enough to fill two quart size (32 ounces, 950 mililters) glass jars
2 pounds (900 grams) beets – about 10 to 12 medium-sized beets
2 cups (480 milliliters) water – preferably the water that you boiled the beets in
2 cups (480 milliliters) apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup (180 milliliters) honey
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Rinse the beets and chop off any greens or roots. If your beets came with the greens on, don’t you dare throw them away! They are very tasty when sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic. Place the beets in a large pot and fill with water and a dash of salt. Boil the beets until tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Remove the beets from the pot and place in a separate bowl. Fill with cold water so that the beets cool down enough so that you can easily handle them. Using a pairing knife, peel the beets – since they have boiled, you can easily scratch off the peel with the knife. Compost the peels and cut the beets into thin slices and let them sit in the bowl while you prepare the other ingredients.
Place the water (preferably water that you cooked the beets in), vinegar, honey and spices into a saucepan on medium heat. Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil and remove from heat.
Make sure that your sealable glass jars are clean, then evenly distribute the sliced onion between them, followed by the sliced beets. Pour the liquid spice solution over the beets and cover with a lid. Let cool, then place in the refrigerator. Let sit for at least 24 hours before serving.
Store in the refrigerator.
Note: once you have eaten your beets up, the leftover juice works great to make salad dressings with!