Love them or hate them?
Find them sweet tasting or feel that they taste like dirt?
Maybe, just maybe,
With the help of millions of lactic-acid bacteria, some fun seasoning and a bit of time to,
Transform their flavors,
You might just acquire a taste for these beautiful gems.
Love them even more.
And if simple fermented beets aren’t for you, perhaps the included recipes Beet Kvass, Beet Relish or beet-infused sauerkraut will fit the bill.
[Disclaimer: The vibrant gold and candy-striped colors of the beets pictured about are not retained during fermentation. 😥 Details in Tips & Tricks section.]
- 7 Amazing Benefits of Beetroot & Beetroot Juice
- Additional Health Benefits from Fermented Beets
- Possible Side Effects of Consuming Beetroot
- 6 Flavoring Suggestions for Fermented Beets
- Fermented Beets Recipe Slide Show
- Tips & Tricks for Successfully Fermenting Beets
- Recipe Flavors for Fermented Beets
- 1. Horse Kicked Fermented Beets
- 2. Passion Pink Fermented Beets
- 3. Cardamom Fermented Beets
- 4. Powered-by-Turmeric Fermented Beets
- 5. Rosemary Fermented Beets
- 6. Ginger Sparkle Fermented Beets
- Naturally Fermented Beets Recipe
- Ways to Enjoy Your Fermented Beets
- Other Delectable Ways to Ferment Beets
Beets have been gaining in popularity as a new superfood due to recent studies claiming that beetroot juice can lower blood pressure, increase blood flow and improve athletic performance among many other things.
Maybe it would behoove us to figure out a way to include these daily with our meals, or even as a pre- or post-workout drink.
Beets come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes as witnessed during a recent trip to my local farmer’s market.
And, like fermented carrot sticks, fermented beets – sliced, diced, shredded, match sticked or spiralized – are a super-simple, approachable recipe. Just a few simple ingredients:
Something fun to flavor them with.
The help of our support team:
Millions of Mighty Microbes, and
You have this!
But, first a bit on their benefits.
Beetroot or table beets are from the same family as sugar beets but they are genetically and naturally different. Sugar beets are white in color and used for extracting sugar for food processors. Sugar cannot be obtained from beets which are mostly red or gold in color.
7 Amazing Benefits of Beetroot & Beetroot Juice
During my research for this article, I stumbled across the website Love Beets. A fun and playful website that is as devoted to helping you enjoy your beets as I am to helping you learn to ferment sauerkraut.
Recipes galore, beet juice, beetroot powder and more. If you want to delve deeper into beets, Check it out.
Here is a summary of just some of the benefits I read about:
- Beets are a valuable source of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Beets are an excellent source of magnesium, potassium, and iron along with soluble fiber. They are also rich in vitamins C, A, and B6 and antioxidants. Beets contain an exceptionally high level of folic acid. In a one-cup (250 ml) serving of beets, you’ll find 37% of the recommended daily serving of folate and 11% of the daily recommended serving of Vitamin C. Studies are indicating that nutrients taken through food are more powerful than as an isolated supplement. Eat your beets!
- Beets can improve heart health and lower blood pressure.
The potassium in beets works with sodium to keep the volume of blood in circulation steady by flushing excess sodium out of the system and lowering blood pressure. Natural nitrates in beets dilate blood vessels, improve the flow of blood and lower blood pressure. A 2008 study examined the effects of drinking 2 cups (500 ml) of beetroot juice in healthy individuals and found that blood pressure was significantly lowered. There has to be some ancient wisdom in the connection between beets are red, they bleed and they also nourish our blood and circulatory system.
Note: It takes four medium-sized red beets to produce a cup of juice. To see a visual: A Visual Guide to Juicing Vegetables: How Many Veggies Go in a Cup
- Beets increase blood flow and combat dementia.
Beets produce nitric acid, which helps increase blood flow throughout your body, including to your brain. MRIs done on older adults showed that eating a high-nitrate diet that included beet juice, improved blood flow and oxygenation to certain areas of the brain.
- Beets boost endurance.
Athletes who drank beet juice mixed with a bit of apple juice before working out had better endurance and a lower resting blood pressure. It is thought that this is due to the nitrates found in beets that improve muscle oxygenation by improving improve blood flow to the muscles during exercise and relieving some post-workout muscle aches.
- Beets combat constipation.
The high content of fiber in beets helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
- Beets lower risk of heart disease.
Beets are a good source of folate and betaine. These nutrients act together to help lower blood levels of homocysteine, which can increase your risk of heart disease by causing artery-damaging inflammation.
- Beets are a great blood builder.
If you suffer from anemia or fatigue, the high iron content in raw beets can be an effective addition to your diet.
Motivated to add beet juice to your diet?
You can forego juicing and use instead some beetroot juice powder or some beetroot root powder.
Beetroot powder made from beet juice is spray dried from juice extracted from the beets. Beet juice powder dissolves very nicely in water and is fairly pleasant to drink by itself. Look carefully at ingredients. Some contain all sorts of tasty stuff: sweeteners, fillers, and additives. Expect to pay $20-30 for a 7-ounce (200 g) package. If the price is lower, you’re getting ground beetroot, not dehydrated beet juice.
Red Beet Crystals by Salus. The label states that approximately 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) were used to produce the 200 grams of crystals. Organic. “These are harvested in special forests in Germany to assure purity.”
This Beet Root Juice Powder is made from 100 percent U.S.-grown organic beets. The beets are juiced, then dried in a way that preserves the nutrient content.
Beetroot root powder is made from ground up & dehydrated beets and includes all the fibrous material in beets. The powder does not dissolve as nicely as a juice-based powder and has a somewhat chalky, grittiness to it and not the clean taste you get from just beetroot juice. India and China seem to be the place where all these beets are grown.
Beet Root Powder by Bulk Supplements. Grown in China, purity and identity testing through a third party within the US.
Organic Beet Root Powder by Naturevibe Organics. Grown in India, USDA Organic, non-GMO.
Beetroot juice is one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidants and naturally occurring nitrates.Nitrates (not to be confused with nitrites!) are compounds which improveblood flow throughout the body—including the brain, heart, and muscles.
Additional Health Benefits from Fermented Beets
If you ferment your beets, they are packed with the same goodness as sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables. In addition to having the benefits discussed above, fermented beets:
- Are an excellent source of probiotics.
Similar to those found in yogurt, probiotics produced during fermentation are known to have many health benefits: improved digestion, enhanced immune system, better brain function to name a few.
- Have increases nutritional value.
Lactic-acid fermentation produces and enhances the levels of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.
- Are easier to digest than raw or cooked vegetables.
Fermentation breaks down hard-to-digest cellulose.
- Are safer to eat than raw vegetables.
Raw vegetables can have E.coli on them, but lactic acid produced during fermentation kill off the E.coli bacteria. They can’t survive in the acidic environment of fermentation.
Since the 16th century, beet juice has been used as a natural red dye. In 19th century England the Victorians used beets to dye their hair.
Possible Side Effects of Consuming Beetroot
Before you go hog wild and start eating beets for breakfast, lunch and dinner, here are a few things to be aware of.
- Red Urine.
An estimated 10-15% of all U.S. adults experience beeturia – a reddening of the urine – after consumption of beets in every day amounts. This phenomenon is not considered harmful, but it may be a possible indicator of iron deficiency, iron excess or problems with iron metabolism. If you experience beeturia and have any reason to suspect iron-related problems, consult your healthcare provider.
Beets are high in oxalate, which can contribute to gout, a type of arthritis that develops when too much uric acid builds up in the body.
- Discolored Stool.
You might find that eating beets relieves you of constipation, but don’t be alarmed if your stool is pink or red. It’s not blood; and is actually harmless.
Nitrites can interact with the dietary protein in the stomach to potentially make substances called nitrosamines. The majority of nitrosamines are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in animals and this is likely to be similar in humans. Research has not been done to show whether taking nitrate-rich vegetable drinks long term is safe in terms of nitrosamine levels with a high nitrate diet.
An estimated 10-15% of all U.S. adults experience beeturia – a reddening of the urine- after consumption of beets in every day amounts.
6 Flavoring Suggestions for Fermented Beets
You can effortlessly infuse beets with a variety of flavors by the addition of a few simple seasonings: garlic, dill, ginger, rosemary, cumin or even horseradish, to name a handful.
Peel and cut beets,
pack into a jar,
along with your choice of seasoning,
pour brine over,
screw on lid and
leave on your countertop for 5-10 days. That’s it.
Intentionally, there is one ingredient missing.
And, one step missing.
Cooking, canning or heat processing in any way.
Traditionally, fermentation is how cultures around the world preserved their harvest to enjoy during the upcoming months of winter. The natural bacteria present on your beets create lactic acid to give them a sour tang, lower their pH to levels at which pathogenic bacteria can’t survive and infuse these living foods with a wide range of flavors that awaken all 5 of your taste sensations, including the “umami” taste sensation.
Umami, which is Japanese for “pleasant savory taste,” refers to glutamate – a type of amino acid – which occurs naturally in many foods. When glutamate breaks down – through fermentation – it becomes L-glutamate and that’s when things start to taste really good and is what explains why properly fermented foods truly tantalize our taste buds. Add another taste – umami – to those four taste sensations – sweet, sour, salty and bitter – we learned about as children.
Fermented Beets Recipe Slide Show
First, here’s the basic recipe in pictures followed by tips for success, 6 suggestions for flavoring your beets and then the official step-by-step recipe.
Tips & Tricks for Successfully Fermenting Beets
With a bit of experience and a few batches under your belt, you’ll be able to fine-tune the fermentation process to your liking. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you ferment your first batch:
- Choose small or medium beets that feel firm and heavy for their size and have smooth skin. Fresh beets with their tops still on are best.
You cannot create sweet, tangy, melt-in-your-mouth fermented beets if you start with tough, dry or aged and fibrous beets. Beets will become more tender as they ferment, but you can’t turn a hard rock into a tender beet. Look for blemish-free beets without soft, wet areas or flecks of mold. If you are purchasing fresh beets with their tops still on, look for greens that are fresh, tender and bright green.
- Your best bet for final colors is red beets.
Striped beets lose their color and end up gray; golden beets fade.
- Think skinny when slicing your beets.
Beets do not have a high water content like cabbage and we would be hard-pressed to extract enough brine from them by just sprinkling them with salt, which is why they are brine fermented. To expose more of their cells and have a more tender finished product, you want to think thin: fairly thin slices, a nice julienne cut, extra skinny matchsticks, small cubes or a coarse grate. My favorite texture and flavor combination comes from julienned or grated beets.
- Use a food processor, mandoline or spiralizer to prepare your beets.
The use of these handy gadgets results in finer cuts, making for a tender finished product. Beets are easier to cut with a mandoline or spiralizer if they are fresh, tender and young; tough, hard beets that have been stored for months can be difficult to draw across the blade, which is when accidents happen.
If using a mandoline, cut off the root but leave some of the top and use the hand guard.
- Do not cook your beets.
Some recipes for naturally fermented beets call for cooking them first. Don’t! You will kill off the entire army of Mighty Microbes and instead of fermenting, your beets will become a slimy, smelly mess.
- My favorite salt for fermentation is Himalayan Pink.
I talk about the best salt for fermentation here, here. In short, use non-iodized salt.
- Use a 2% brine strength.
This is for the geeks out there; the rest of you, just follow the recipe. Use 2% salt by weight for the weight of water you’re dissolving your salt in.
- Below the brine.
For worry-free fermentation, it is best to use some sort of weight to hold the beets below the brine. This will help reduce browning, a common occurrence with beets.
Here I’m using a Pickle Pusher as reviewed in this post. It’s not designed for a straight sided jar, but… it works like a charm with these pint (500 ml) jars and will prevent the browning you use on the right jar due to air exposure. No weight was used on that jar.
- No airlock?
Airlocks allow excess gases to escape. If you don’t have an airlock and you want to be super safe, burp your jar once daily during the first 3 days.
Here I’m using a Pickle Pipe as reviewed in this post. It’s quickly becoming my favorite airlock.
- Dark scum.
When you pop the lid to check and taste your jar of fermenting beets, you’ll often see a brown scum on the surface. It is perfectly normal and comes from the oxidized colors of the beets. Just remove what you can.
- Syrupy brine.
Beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable so don’t be surprised if the brine of your ferment is thick and syrupy. It’s the nature of fermenting with vegetables with high sugar content. You’ll also see it when fermenting shredded carrots. Feel free to cut the sugar levels of your ferment by mixing in turnips, radishes or jicama – about half beet, half turnips, radishes and or jicama. Note: Using jicama in your ferment is also a great way to make sure you are eating prebiotics.
- Leftover brine (not fermented)?
If you do not use all the brine – salt water – you mixed, store it in the fridge in a sealed jar where it will keep for a few weeks.
- Cleaning up a bloody mess?
The pigment that gives beet their rich colors are called betalains. These betalains are antioxidants that are great for your health so let’s not bioengineer the color out of our beets. But, if you don’t like walking around with red hands or staring at a red cutting board for a few days, here are a few tips for you.
To remove beet stains from your hands, sprinkle them with baking soda, add a bit of water to moisten, rub vigorously. Rinse and repeat, if necessary.
To remove beet stains from your cutting board, sprinkle coarse salt liberally over your board, then slice a lemon in half and use it to rub the salt into the board. Removes most, but not all of the stains.
- Adjust fermentation time based on ambient room temperature and desired product.
Ideal fermentation temperature is 65-70°F (18-21°C) is ideal. If it is super hot, shorten; cold, lengthen.
- Make fresh brine for each batch of fermented beets.
See my recent post on why I say: Don’t reuse the brine – or feel you need to use a starter.
- DO drink leftover fermented brine, or use it to make salad dressings.
The biggest beet in the world was grown by a Dutchman. It weighed over 156 pounds.
Recipe Flavors for Fermented Beets
I like to keep these simple, though you might not believe that is possible for me with the wide range of creative recipes in my SureFire Sauerkraut Recipe Collection eBook.
Here are six ways to infuse your fermenting beets with just a bit of extra zing.
1. Horse Kicked Fermented Beets
For Horse Kicked Fermented Beets, place 1-2 tablespoons of peeled and grated horseradish root and 1 teaspoon of dried dill (1 tablespoon fresh) in your jar. Be careful of volatile oils when grating horseradish.
2. Passion Pink Fermented Beets
For Passion Pink Fermented Beets, place 1-2 slivered garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon caraway seeds in your jar.
3. Cardamom Fermented Beets
For Cardamom Fermented Beets, place 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (1 tablespoon fresh), ½ teaspoon cardamom powder and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves in your jar.
4. Powered-by-Turmeric Fermented Beets
For Powered-by-Turmeric Fermented Beets, place ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon coriander seeds and ½ teaspoon cumin seeds in your jar.
5. Rosemary Fermented Beets
For Rosemary Fermented Beets, place 1 tablespoon roughly chopped, fresh rosemary leaves in your jar.
6. Ginger Sparkle Fermented Beets
For Ginger Sparkle Fermented Beets, place 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger and just a bit of orange zest in your jar, just a ¼ of the orange. Too much zest can impart a bitter taste and overpower the ginger.
Beets are high in fiber, which helps with satiety and regularity.
Naturally Fermented Beets Recipe
Naturally Fermented Beets
FERMENTATION LENGTH: 7-10 days
Nutrition-packed fermented beets are a great addition to any meal. I love to julienne them for fermentation and then add them to my salads.
You Will Need
- 2-3 beets, medium-sized (baseball sized)
- FLAVORING | Choose from ONE of the following:
- 1-2 tablespoons of peeled and grated horseradish root and 1 teaspoon of dried dill (1 tablespoon fresh)
- 1-2 slivered garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoons dried tarragon (1 tablespoon fresh), ½ teaspoon cardamom powder and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon coriander seeds and ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped, fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger and just a bit of orange zest in your jar, just a ¼ of the orange
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) iodine-free salt (fine-grained)
PREP FLAVORING ITEM
Place what you'll be using to flavor your beets in the bottom of a wide mouth pint (500 ml) jar, or jar size of your choosing.
Peel beets. Then, cut into shape desired: sliced, julienned, grated, cubed. I find grated or julienned beets absorb flavors the best and are tender when fermented.
MAKE BRINE & SUBMERGE
Mix 1 tablespoon of salt with 2 cups of non-chlorinated water. Stir with a fork until somewhat dissolved. If there's some undissolved salt, don't worry, it will dissolve during fermentation.
POUR BRINE over beets letting it percolate down. Stop when brine is 1 inch from the top of the jar. Jostle the jar to get the brine between all the packed beets and add more brine, if necessary.
CAP. Screw lid on loosely allow any gases created by the fermentation process a way to escape. Or, use a fermentation lid of your choosing.
Place in a shallow bowl on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight to ferment until active bubbling stops, usually 7-10 days depending upon the temperature of your room Feel free to taste them. The beets are ready when bubbles have stopped rising to the surface, there is a slightly sour aroma and the beets taste tangy.
After 1 week, sample the beets to see if they have just the right taste. If you want them a bit more sour, continue to ferment them, checking their flavors every few days.
Add the fermentation length to your label and put in the refrigerator. Your fermented beets may be eaten immediately, but will increase in flavor with time and will keep for up to a year, though they lose color as the months go on.
Now for the best part. Fermented beets to top a salad, add to your cheese and cracker platter, alongside a meal, or straight from the jar. Don't forget to drink the brine. I sip a bit each time I use my fermented beets.
Ways to Enjoy Your Fermented Beets
Nibble on them straight out of the jar.
Enjoy them alongside cottage cheese.
Add them to sandwiches.
Serve them with cheese and bread for a quick lunch or snack.
Add them to salads.
And, when the last beet stick or slice has been consumed, drink that liquid. After all, it’s Beet Kvass, a fermented tonic, and is full of good nutrition. And, with all those flavoring ingredients, it’s extra tasty.
In ancient times, the root part was not used for cooking but instead as a medicine for treating painful disorders at that time, like headaches and toothaches.
Other Delectable Ways to Ferment Beets
Sliced, diced or grated beets that have been fermented in a salty brine are a quick and easy way to enjoy their flavors, pack in some nutrients and add variety to your diet. But, brine fermented beets may not appeal to everyone. Here are three other ways to ferment beets: Beets Kvass, Beet Relish, and beet-infused Sauerkraut.
Beet Kvass is a tonic that is fermented much like beets by pouring brine over chopped beets. However, you use fewer beets, generally leave it to ferment longer and drink just the brine that has been infused with the flavor and nutrients from the beets.
“This drink is valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are just loaded with nutrients. One 4-ounce glass, morning and night, is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for a kidney stone and other ailments.” – Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions.
Beet Kvass is also a good option for those of you who have gut issues such that you can’t tolerate the fiber in sauerkraut at this time. It is another way to make Gut Shots, a drink made popular by Farmhouse Culture.
Golden Beet and Turmeric Kvass
This recipe uses golden beets instead of the traditional red beets and adds turmeric powder, a currently popular super food. Fermenting turmeric makes it even more nutritious.
“With this Golden Beet & Turmeric Kvass, the sharp flavor of the Turmeric balances the earthiness of the typical kvass taste. I think it’s really delicious, and so does my husband. We both actually prefer this type of kvass over the traditional kvass!” – Heidi
Orange Ginger Beet Kvass
This recipe includes a second ferment where orange juice and zest is added for a more palatable taste. Great for the reluctant. On the double-ferment method:
“Before using this method, I simply tolerated beet kvass because I knew it was good for me. Now I crave it!” – Melanie
Ginger Beet Kvass
You can ferment beets on their own, but most recipes include some type of flavoring agent.
“This version is infused with ginger, which adds a pleasant flavor and also supports digestion. Feel free to experiment with other flavorings like citrus peels, bits of dried pineapple – whatever you like!” – Heather
Relish is a beautiful way to enjoy your beets. Simple to prepare and a great accompaniment to most meals.
Probiotic Apple & Beetroot Relish
This recipe is half shredded beets and half shredded apples to cut the strong, earthy flavors of beets.
“Beetroot relish – savory, sweet and spiced with cloves and star anise – nuzzles its way onto our supper plates every winter. A near-perfect side to pan-fried pork chops seasoned with sage or to classic roast beef, beetroot relish provides an intensity of flavor coupled with nourishing micronutrients including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.” – Jenny
Fermented Horseradish Beet Relish
During fermentation horseradish loses much of its heat – through the escape of volatile oils – so don’t expect this to have the same kick as commercially prepared horseradish.
I love to include one or two shredded beets in my sauerkraut recipes. It is a way to get some of the nutrition from the beets but not with as strong a flavor as eating fermented beets on their own.
Passion Pink Sauerkraut
This recipe of mine is flavored with garlic and caraway seeds.
Beet Ginger Sauerkraut
Ginger Beet Sauerkraut
One of the earliest known benefits of the red beet is its use as an aphrodisiac during Roman times. And it wasn’t all folklore, as it has been found to contain high amounts ofboron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones
References & Sources
11 Amazing Benefits of Beets by Organic Facts
15 Health Benefits of Beets, According to Science (+8 Delicious Beetroot Recipes) by Jen Reviews
Beets by the World’s Healthiest Foods
How Beets Help Blood Flow, Energy Generation, and Weight Loss
Do You Love Beets? Or, Hate Them? What do Beets Taste Like for You?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section.