In general, I have a passionate ambivalence to beets. I know it’s a superfood; I’m trying to work on it. Inevitably whenever I put one in my mouth, I still hear my six-year-old self in the back of my mind pleading, “Do I HAVE to?!”
So I decided to try this quick recipe, a variation on the spicy radish kimchi recipe covered here. In this variation, I cut the beets and the daikon into same sized cubes (about 3/4 to 1 inch). Then I made the classic spicy paste and fermented for two weeks.
LESSON LEARNED: The beets did not soften nearly as much as the radish, so next time, I would either slice the beets into smaller pieces (1/4″), or slice into “chips” rather than cubes.
Some savvy fermenters have recommended against shredding the beets. Because of their high sugar content and the large surface area borne by shredding them, it could attract yeasts which tend toward alcoholic fermentation rather than the desired lactic acid fermentation.
The picture shows the initial (same size cubes) recipe.
BONUS: The brine (which there should be ample amounts when you’ve finished) has a nice kick, sort of like a Bloody Mary/beet kvass mashup! Use it to flavor salad dressings, as a marinade, or drink it straight up!
- 1 large (12-16" and 3" diameter) daikon radish
- 2 medium beets (any variety, I used red)
- 2 baby leeks OR 4 scallions (green onions)
- filtered water
- sea salt
- 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2-inch piece of ginger
- 1 oz. red pepper powder (more=spicier)
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce (to taste); optional
- 1 Tbsp tamari or shoyu (soy) sauce
- Cut off greens from radish and peel outer layer off with a peeler. Use greens for another purpose.
- Cut radish into 1 inch cubes.
- Clean and (optionally) peel the beets. Cut into small cubes (1/4") or slices. (Beets are denser and take longer to ferment than radish).
- Make brine: Dissolve 3 Tablespoons salt into 1 quart of water in a half-gallon (or larger) container. Avoid using a metal container.
- Add radish to brine and soak for up to 6 hours.
- Drain the veggies through a colander.
- Roughly chop the garlic and ginger. Add to bowl of a food processor bowl. If you don’t have a food processor, dice the ginger and garlic so it's almost a paste, and add to a mixing bowl.
- Slice leeks or scallions into ½" pieces and add to mix.
- Add pepper powder, tamari and fish sauce to mixing bowl. Vegan variation: omit fish sauce.
- Stir and mash contents (or pulse with food processor) together until a paste forms.
- Wearing a latex or plastic glove to protect yourself from the heat of the pepper, mix the paste thoroughly with your hand into the drained radish cubes.
- Add the beets. You can mix everything directly in the fermenting container, or in a separate large mixing bowl. Mix until the vegetables are coated nicely with the paste.
- Cover with a plastic lid or plate and weigh down so that the contents stay under the brine. Or if you are using an airlock container, seal the lid tightly.
- Some brine will continue to form once the veggies are pressed down.
- Cover with a cloth and rubber band to keep flies out. (If using airlock skip this step).
- Place in a cool spot (out of direct light) for 14 days. Note: Your house will smell like kimchi.
- Move to refrigerator, where the taste will develop slowly. Will keep for up to 3 months. You will see continued fermentation and natural carbonation from the beets.