Saturday, August 13, 2011

Birthdays and Beets

Today is my friend Jessica's birthday. In honor of this special day, I thought I'd share a recipe that combines several of the items she dislikes most: beets, cabbage, hot, humid conditions and grilled meat. I gave her the heads up about it. Still waiting to hear how many jars I should wrap up for her for the big day.

I'm a relatively new beet-lover. They seem to grow well in our garden and we usually find ourselves with an overabundance of them. This awesome smoked beet recipe from Jamie Oliver is my favorite way to prepare them for eating. However, last year, we had eaten all the beets we could manage and still found ourselves with more. So, I turned to my favorite canning cookbook and found this recipe for Red Root Relish. I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to give it a try. We weren't really sure what we were going to do with it at the time.

Soon after I made it, we discovered some great bratwurst at our downtown farm market. They are made by Neil Smith of Garden Gate Farm. The bratwurst and relish go together perfectly. This year, when we ordered a pork half from Garden Gate, we had them make all of the sausage into bratwurst. Yesterday, I decided to make a new batch of relish, as we were running a little low. This recipe is fairly simple and straight forward, especially when compared to some of my past canning projects.

(From the Ball Book of Home Preserving)
(makes 4 pints)

4 c. peeled, diced cooked beets
4c. finely chopped red cabbage
3 c. white vinegar
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. finely chopped onions
1 c. seeded, finely chopped red bell pepper
1 T. prepared horseradish
1 T. salt

First, you 'll need to cook the beets. Clean, trim and cover them with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and boil gently until tender. Mine took about 35 minutes. Rinse in cold water, cool slightly, peel and chop.

Next, you'll need to prepare your canning supplies. My canner takes a LONG time to come to a boil on my glass cooktop. (I believe you are not actually supposed to can on a glass cooktop. An alarm usually sounds when I do. I'm not sure if it's the heat or the weight; but, I always ignore it. What can I say? I live life on the edge.) Wash your jars, rings and lids in warm, soapy water. You'll sterilize them later.

In a large saucepan, combine all of the above ingredients and bring them to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When you're relish is almost done, place your jars, lids and rings into your boiling canner water to heat and sterilize them.

Ladle hot relish into hot jars, remove air bubbles with a butter knife and adjust head space to 1/2 inch. Wipe your jar rims clean and screw on your lids. Place jars in your canner and bring water back up to a boil. Process for 15 minutes, then remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before removing your jars.

Allow them to cool undisturbed. When you hear the lids pop, you will know your jars are sealed. When the jars are completely cool, you can wrap them and give them to friends as birthday gifts.

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