beets on a log

The Mason Jar Chronicles – Beet Sauerruben

The Mason Jar Chronicles here at Nibs and Bits will, yes, chronicle my/my family’s adventures in fermentation, water-bath canning, and pretty much anything and everything that can be crammed into a mason jar – that can and will includes cold brew coffee(s) and various fruit-y and non fruit-y beverages. Follow along for the triumphs and the let-downs!

Wonderfully and surprisingly we’ve had an abundance of red beets in the garden this year – and since I can only eat so many roasted beets, I thought it might be fun/interesting to try a small batch of beet sauerruben (sauerruben, fermented, is typically made with turnips) in a 1/2 gallon jar with an airlock on. In case you’re wondering what-the-heck an airlock even looks like, click HERE for a general idea. Fermentation airlocks, on a whole, are a pretty economical option if you want to break into the fermentation game.  The airlocks are fairly inexpensive (usually under a buck or two), as are the mason jars and plastic lids – and, if you can retrofit the airlock into the plastic lid (with a plastic gromit) for the mason jar you’ll save a bit, too.  The pre-made airlock kits will run you around $15-20. Retrofitting will be closer to $5.  But enough numbers!

The sauerruben I made is pretty straight forward: peeled and grated beets with Redmond’s Real Salt and caraway seeds crammed into a 1/2 gallon mason jar and then squished down and worked around until the salt has pulled enough liquid to cover the beets. I then put the jar into a small bowl (to grab drainage from the airlock) and tucked it away in a dark cupboard until it tasted sour enough to be yummy (around a week and a half).  I transferred the sauerruben into pint jars and refrigerated.  I’ve been enjoying it on rice bowls and sandwiches – the recipe I followed also recommended it to be used in a borscht.  But I’m far too lazy for that.

So, without further ado, here are some images:

fresh beets with greens
Straight from the earth and freshly rinsed
peeled and washed beets in colander
Ready for business!
hand covered in beets and beet juice
grating beets
It’s pretty grate – see what I did there?!
grated beets in a jar
Layering the salt and caraway with the grated beets

<no images of the actual fermentation process or the jar with airlock – my bad – next time!>

beet sauerruben
Ready to eat!
beet sauerruben
One 1/2 gallon made 3 wide-mouth pints – and a bit went to the chickens

The result is a sticky-ish, faintly caraway noted, beet relish of sorts.  It has a slight sauerkraut bite – but it’s quite mild overall.  As hard as I tried to get ALL the grit off of the beets before grating, there is a gritty surprise (I like to pretend it’s the salt – Redmond’s salt has a bit of “natural minerals”) every now and then – but not enough to be repugnant, just earthy.

The beet sauerruben is a hair heavy for summer cooking (I find beets generally are), but perfect for winter and autumn fare – even though I’m enjoying it now.  I’d definitely make it again – possibly tweak the spicing notes, but it’s a great little component to have hanging around in the refrigerator.

I used the sauerruben recipe from this book – and really, if you’re into trying fermentation I’d definitely get yourself a copy – it’s kinda the bible:

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