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Summer

Spicy Fermented Beetroot

Fermented beetroot is great – it’s delicious, nutritionally brilliant, and super convenient - the concept of Food with Time recipes in a nutshell!

You have the crunch and sweetness of raw beetroot and yet it’s much easier to digest… you have the tang of pickled beetroot although it’s much less astringent and alive with probiotic goodness… and, once made, rustling up a tasty salad takes seconds, as there’s no lengthy roasting or boiling involved. 

Here, we use the brine method of fermentation. Unlike a ‘dry salt method’, such as sauerkraut, we don’t pound the vegetables, but simply peel, chop and pack them into a Kilner jar, before submerging in a salt solution of 4% salt - so for 500ml of water, we use of 20g salt.

You can see the brine as a blank canvas. There’s a great opportunity here to infuse the solution with all manner of herbs, spices and aromatics, which adds a third layer of flavour to the final product, along with the natural tang of the lactic acid, and the earthy sweetness of the beetroot itself.

Finally, what I absolutely adore about the brine method of fermentation here is that we produce two products in one – yes there’s the fermented beetroot, but the brine solution becomes an insanely flavoursome and probiotic rich liquid which can be used in so many other recipes – particularly salad dressings, and dips. Have a look at this Beetroot Kvass Hummus, for example.

For this quantity you will need a 1l Kilner jar.

 

Ingredients:

approximately 5 medium/large beetroot

500ml water

20g sea salt

1 red chilli

2 cloves garlic

small hunk of ginger

 

Method:

Disinfect your Kilner jar with boiling water, and wash your hands, board and knife well.

Very coarsely chop the garlic, chili and ginger, place in a saucepan along with the water and salt, and warm this to dissolve the salt, and infuse the brine with flavour. Allow this to cool.

Meanwhile, peel and dice the beetroot into small cubes. Pack these into the Kilner jar.

Once the brine has cooled, pour this over the beetroot. They will naturally want to float but it’s important that the beetroot remain submerged below the water line as this is the right environment for the lactic acid bacteria to grow; above the water line there’s a chance that yeasts and moulds can grown and spoil the end product.

You can submerge the beetroot with a ‘cabbage-butt-bung’ perhaps, some pickling pebbles such as these, or some cling film filled with water and wrapped into a parcel.

I recommend labeling and dating each ferment.

The beetroot needs to sit at room temperature for anywhere between 4-14 days. In the height of summer things will ferment faster, and in winter more slowly. Taste the beetroot each day to see the flavour profile develop over time. You’ll soon get a feel for what level of fermentation you prefer – whether it’s lighter and crunchier, or softer and punchier! More on that here.

‘Burp’ the jar each day too - do this in the sink! - to release the carbon dioxide which builds up during the fermentation process.

When you’re happy with your beetroot, pop it in the fridge where the fermentation process will slow down almost entirely.

Fermented beetroot is spectacular in so many salads… Here’s one with spelt & feta, but I’ll be sharing many more in the coming weeks, both here and on our YouTube channel, Food with Time.