Beets with Garlic and Fennel
I planted my beets in February this year and I received a bumper crop! Unfortunately, they began to bolt last week so I knew it was time to harvest them. What to do with a sink full of beets? Ferment them!
Fermentation? Like beer? Well, yes, but . . . You know that yogurt you enjoy? That’s fermented milk. Not only does it taste good, but it has probiotics – good bacteria – which benefit your digestion. Did you realize that every civilization throughout time has had their history of fermented foods and beverages? They had to utilize fermentation for lack of refrigeration. Today, many of us eat versions of these ferments such as aged cheeses, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, wine and cider which all began as naturally fermented foods.
Due to the industrialization and pasteurization of our food system, we rarely consume fermented foods or use fermentation as a method of preservation. And because of that, we miss out on the added benefit of healthier digestion and boosted immune function through our food.
And now let’s get back to my sink full of beets . . . As I wash the beets, let me tell you why I eat beets regularly.
Benefits of Beets
Beets are a food that belong in your diet fermented or not. (Beets are delicious roasted!) Aside from being beautiful, beets are very healthy! These colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against inflammation, heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.
- Beet juice is known for its blood-building and detoxifying properties. (Beet kvass recipe is here.)
- Beets contain many important minerals such as phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese and potassium.
- Beets are full of vitamins A and C, folic acid, niacin (vitamin B3) and biotin (vitamin B7). Pregnant women should consider consuming beetroot because they can lower the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube disorders.
- Beets are also good for the liver. They contain a chemical compound called betaine which stimulates the function of liver cells, and protects liver and bile ducts. If you are a person who thinks about exposure to toxins and wants to give your body as much detox support as possible, beets are a food that belong in your diet
- Beets are full of fiber to help with digestion and elimination. Research found that the fibers in beetroots have a favorable effect on both the bowel function and cholesterol levels. Beets’ protective role against colon cancer is probably due to the combination of its betacyanin and fiber content.
Recipe: Beets with Garlic and Fennel
Summary: The fennel brings a bit of sweet licorice flavor to this condiment or salad ingredient.
- 1 quart canning jar with lid
- 2-3 medium beets
- 1 small fennel bulb, stem removed
- 3-8 cloves of garlic, peeled (number depends on your love of garlic)
- 1/4 cup of whey (optional)
- 1 tbsp of sea salt (2 tbsp if not using whey)
- 1/4 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
- filtered water
- Wash beets to remove dirt and hairs. Remove cut or bruised spots. Cut off tops and tails. (It is not necessary to peel the beets but you may.)
- Cut beets into approximately 1/2 inch cubes. Transfer beets to a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Cut fennel bulb in half vertically. Wash out any dirt. Stand each half on it’s cut side and slice into 1/4 inch thick half rounds, then in half again. Add to bowl.
- Quarter garlic cloves and add to bowl. Toss mixture.
- Add sea salt (both tablespoons if not using whey) and fennel seeds to bottom of quart jar.
- Transfer the beet-fennel-garlic mixture to the jar. Add whey if using. Push down beets with a wooden spoon or kraut pounder.
- Add filtered water to completely submerge beets beneath the liquid, leaving an inch of space at the top of jar.
- Leave jar out in a warm spot (usually on the kitchen counter) loosely covered with its lid or a tea towel for 3-7 days. (If a bit of scum forms on top, just scoop off with a spoon.)
- Store in the refrigerator for up to three months.
See notes from beet kvass (recipe above) for knowing “doneness”. After a few days, taste the brine or a beet to see if you like the flavor yet. Beets will still be crunchy when ready. Add to salads or as a condiment beside meat dishes. Can be made into Borscht (a beet soup) which can be enjoyed hot or cold. The fermented brine is great to use in salad dressing when finished eating the beets.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Another beet condiment recipe is Fermented Beets with Ginger and Orange from Nourished Kitchen
Ready for More Fermentation?
The process of fermentation adds enzymes which make foods more digestible and more nutritious, aid in digestion, and protects against disease. To learn more about his artisanal process of food preparation, a great book to get you started is Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.