Memories of take-away dinners are highlighted by the beetroot juice and tomato sauce mingling together and dripping down my arms. My lips would be stained red and I would struggle to drink from the soft drink can because, if the burger was put down, it would surely fall apart. Ask an Australian and the best hamburgers are made with beetroot. None can compare to the hamburgers made on the corner shop where it seemed that a kilo of lollies were only 20 cents. They are made with flat, buttered hamburger buns, a meat patty, fried onion, two slices of tomato, two slices of tinned beetroot and tomato sauce. Go for the works and get a slice of pineapple, grilled bacon and a fried egg and don't forget a serving of chips. But it was always the beetroot that tasted the best. I sometimes went as far as to remove the beet slices from between the tomato and lettuce and leave it on the paper saving the best bit for last.
My enjoyment for beets have taken a back burner for the past decade or so, but lately they've made a re-emergence into my world. It all started with a jar of Branston Beets that we came across in the local supermarket. We ate them, unlike other condiments and preservatives in our fridge, within a week. A month or so later, the first bunch of beets appeared in our organic box. We put them in a risotto, in salads, roasted them and boiled them served with butter. But the beets are still coming.
So I decided to preserve them, perhaps to accompany me on my journey for the search of the perfect hamburger. I scoured the internet for a simple pickling recipe, and came back to the first one I stumbled across.
The recipe is from That's My Home and has this little note on the side:
"This is the recipe that started me canning. I still have the original recipe on a piece of notebook paper, all stained and torn. It's like an old friend."
How could I resist a recipe with this sort of history?
I'm going to try to leave the beets resting in the fridge for about a month, until I give in to temptation. I'm salivating, just thinking about them...
How To Pickle Beets
7 or so randomly sized beets
1 cup of white wine vinegar
1 cup of water
3/4 of a cup of sugar
1 thinly sliced onion
Boil the beets as normal until tender, leaving the roots and about an inch of the stems on - this should take about an hour. Once boiled, run under cold water and sit for about 15 minutes. Trim the beets, peel and slice. Place the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add in sliced beets and boil for about 15 minutes. Pack the beet slices into sterilised jars and top with the pickling juices. Seal and emerse the bottles in a hot water bath for about 30 minutes. Let them cool and refridgerate - until the cravings give in.
- My absolute favourite part was peeling the beets! I like making a mess in the kitchen and what better to do it with than bright pink beet juice? As I squeezed the beets, the skin came free and burst spraying the juices over the counter and over me. It made me giggle, but this is a formal warning.
- For spices I used pepper corns, cardamom seeds and cumin seeds - yet to taste the resulting goodness.