Spiced Pickled Beetroot

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When I was at home for Christmas recently, my mum served up some of her homemade pickled beetroot, featuring beetroot grown in her garden. It was so delicious, sweet and sour and so moreish, a perfect addition to a summer salad! I knew I had to try to re-create it, even if I can't grow my own beetroot! 

You will need a large 1kg preserving jar with a lid to place your beetroot in. 

1kg fresh beetroot, stalks removed (skin on)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
100g brown sugar (I used organic unrefined Rapadura Sugar)
1 cinnamon quill
10 whole cloves
3 star anise
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tsp salt

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1. Preheat oven to 100 degrees celsius. 
2. Place the beetroot in a large saucepan and cover with water. On cooktop, bring to the boil and then simmer until the beetroot is tender when pricked with a skewer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
3. While the beetroot is cooling, sterilise your jar. The easiest way to do this is using the dishwasher - run the jar (not the lid) through a cycle. When the cycle is finished, place the jar on an oven tray and pop into the oven (on 100 deg) to dry and complete the sterilisation process. If you don't have a dishwasher, boil it in a pot on the stove top instead. For the lid - boil this in a small saucepan on the cooktop. It's really important to sterilise the jar to kill any potential bacteria that may be in the jar as this will breed in your pickle and cause it to spoil, if not removed (not to mention, it could make you sick too).

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4. Once the beetroot is cool, put on some disposable gloves and rub the skins off. If the beetroot is cooked properly this should be easy to do. Use a small paring knife to cut the roots and any remaining stems off, and slice the beetroots into slices about 1/2 cm thick. Remember that the beetroot needs to fit through the neck of the jar, so size them accordingly. 
5. Now to make the pickling liquid! Place the spices in a medium sized saucepan and cook over low heat until they are fragrant. Add the vinegar and sugar and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and small bubbles appear. Remove from the heat.
6. Take your sterilised jar out of the oven and use small tongs to place the beetroot slices into the jar. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the beetroot. Pour in your pickling liquid, and seal the jar. Place the lid on the jar tightly and invert the jar so it's upside down. Leave for a few minutes until all of the air bubbles have moved to the top of the jar and there is no air in between the layers of beetroot. You may need to roll the jar or tap gently to help move the bubbles along. Bacteria can breed in air bubbles so again, it's important to remove them. Turn the jar upright and allow to cool slightly before placing in the fridge to chill. You can eat your pickled beetroot straight away, however if you can wait 2 weeks for the flavours to develop, this is better (good luck!).

Tip: If you don't have gloves, try oiling your hands before you peel and cut the beetroot, to stop them from staining your hands!