Chicken Little doesn’t like beets unless they’re pickled of course. My favorite veggie juice is beets, carrots, apples and ginger and I’ve been making it for years. He usually passes on it. When I came home from the market Saturday with a 15 pound bag of juicing carrots and made some juice he tried a sip. Then he asked for more so I showed him how to make it.
If only he could do this with the latte maker every morning…
In a moment of brilliance I added a splash of cream to the beet juice which resulted in a foot stomping tantrum when he found out we were out of beets. Even though he doesn’t like beets.
That got me thinking – what a great way to get more beet nutrients into your kids. Because of the cream you can’t even tell it’s beet juice. Why not put that in berry smoothies?
Or I’m actually planning some beet/yogurt fruit leather because I know preschooler would eat that if I told him it was strawberry and then added a little bit of jam so he could see some berries in it. We already do a fifty fifty smoothie (and sometimes popsicles) using carrot juice that they think is orange juice and no one’s the wiser there.
Did I mention I’m evil (finger to chin)? Flushed by my success with chocolate beet cupcakes, the evil experiments continue…
So you’d think after canning, fermenting or drying what really does appear to be enough fruit, pickle and condiment stores to last us all year I’d be done with my canner.
Not so. It’s still at the ready as I’m not done yet. We did eat all the pickled beets already but I purposefully held off on making a ton of them since I was planning for a large fall crop of beets that didn’t materialize. Last week I bought a huge bag of Detroit Red beets from Nash’s Organic and pickled them this week. I’ve got a fella who just can’t do without ‘em. It *might* have something to do with the fact that he’s 6, way into potty humor and loves the fact that the next day their dark red color graces the toilet. Whatever motivation he needs to eat them I’m fine with.
Because water canning takes up a lot of water and destroys approximately 35% of the nutrients right off the bat, however, I prefer to lacto-ferment veggies wherever possible. Last fall I made some pickled beets and some beet kvass. They’re ready now and we are digging them.
In case you were wondering, historically the difference between pickled foods and food pickles is vinegar or salt. Fermented foods were called pickled [insert food name] while the process of soaking in salt or vinegar brine made it [insert food name] pickles. Salt and vinegar help destroy bad bacteria (and in fact all bacteria) that can spoil the food. Fermenting takes a different approach. It encourages good bacteria so that bad bacteria doesn’t have a chance to take over and spoil the food. And it actually can increase the nutrients and enzymes in the food.
Ocean-going crews throughout history have carried fermented foods with them to help stave off things like scurvy because fermenting actually makes the nutrients easier for your body to absorb, in addition to preserving the food.
So to sum up…canning destroys friendly bacteria, nutrients and enzymes. Fermenting increases nutrients and enzymes. Both preserve the food.
The only downside to fermenting that I can think of is the amount of cold storage space you need. Although they are preserved, you will see marked spoilage if you don’t keep the foods cool. Once they are fermented I store mine in the second refrigerator in the basement.
You probably already have some experience with fermented foods. Some of my favorite are deli style dill pickles, saurkraut and kim chee. But this year I’ve added some new ones. I’ve got an inquisitive mind and when I read about things that seem unusual or unlikely I just have to try them.
Last year’s gems that I’m chomping at the bit to repeat include:
lacto-fermented orange marmalade that was just as fresh by the time I ate my way to the bottom of the jar as it was when I made it.
beet kvass that, despite it’s oddity, my husband drinks without complaining - unlike the daily kefir and fermented cod liver oil I make him take.
ginger bug that we use to innoculate homemade soda or drink straight up as ginger ale.
Because beets are such a good toxin and liver cleanser we are drinking beet kvass heartily today. To your health in the New Year!
Today I realized that a few of my beets are getting furry. Christian was kind of enough to remind me that the Detroit Red beets (all the ones I picked) had been frost-damaged and wouldn’t keep long. Oops – forgot that in the mad rush of Halloween this week!
I pulled out the few bearded ones and cooked anything else that looked like it would have a beard by breakfast. Does your beet have a 5:00 shadow? Mine do!
I grated a few for muffins, made some apple/beet/carrot juice for the family and started a few quarts of beet kvass using this recipe. Beets are a natural detoxifier, loaded with beta carotene and just generally rock. What I found most interesting about that link were the comments to the post. If you have any questions about kvass or how to make it they are certainly answered there.
Tomorrow I plan to start another beet kvass recipe from my “Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning” book based on traditional wisdoms from France. The process is slightly different in that the beets are juiced first and the kvass is made without whey to jumpstart the process. I’m curious to see the differences in the two and to taste them at 2, 4 and 6 month marks. It amazes me that something so simple can turn something so perishable into shelf stable while not only NOT destroying it’s nutritional profile but actually INCREASING it. Fascinating. And forgotten.
So follow along this week as I ferment, pickle, juice, freeze and dry my beets in rapid succession. I’ll be posting recipes or links so that you can do the same in case you have as many furry beets as I do. Even if you don’t you might want to pick up about 10 pounds or so and experiment with me.
Or if you have your own crazy beet experiments going this week I’d love to hear about ‘em. You know what they say…if you can’t BEET them, join them!
Updated later – I tried the beet kvass today and it’s interesting. It tastes a lot like alka seltzer somehow. I’m looking forward to capping it in a day or two and putting it in the back of the fridge for a few months before trying it again…
Updated even later – It’s been about a week now and the beet kvass is completely different. It’s way sweeter and more beet-like. It no longer has the alka selzer taste to it. I look forward to trying this in another month.
In my house chocolate is a word we use to see if the kids can hear us talking. Usually no matter what they are doing or where they are someone will shout “Did you say CHOCOLATE?” and come running. Sure most of us love chocolate and try not to eat it because most things chocolate are filled with nasty fats, flavors & preservatives.
But did you know that chocolate is a super food? I consider adding chocolate to things I was going to make anyway as healthy as sneaking beets into something I was going to make anyway. Which leads into tomorrow’s breakfast of chocolate beet muffins nicely, don’t you think?
These morning glory muffins are so versatile that you can substitute an endless variety of seasonal fruits and veggies in them. In the summer it’s zucchini, in the fall it might be winter squash peeled and grated, or carrots, or even beets. If you don’t have any coconut oil you can use melted butter but coconut oil is one of those things I try to make sure my kids get plenty of, especially with all the illnesses going around lately. Here is a little snippet about why it is so healthful and another snippet from PCC and therefore one of my pantry staples even though it’s not a local food. These muffins are based on a morning glory muffin recipe from the Whole Foods website. If you want to make the beets completely invisible then puree them in the food processor after grating.
Chocolate Beet Muffins
1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour, spelt or emmer
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane juice
1/4 cup organic brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium beet, peeled, grated
1 apple, cored, peeled and diced
1/4 cup fine or medium flaked unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup chocolate chips to seal the deap for picky eaters
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a muffin tin. (Makes 12)
In one bowl mix together the first 8 ingredients. In another bowl mix together the next 4 ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until well combined. There is a lot of variation depending on size of apple, beet, pureed or grated, size of egg, weather and grain used. You want your muffin mix to be slightly thicker then cake mix but not so thick it won’t make a nice soft crumb and end up dry or tough. If it’s too stiff add buttermilk or milk until it reaches muffin thickness. Fold in the apple and coconut and fill muffin cups. Bake 25 – 30 minutes until done when a cake tester comes out clean.