Beetroot and celery are both vastly more delicious preserved and brined as their textures provide the ultimate, satisfying crunch. Keep the pieces fairly large in the culture as the high sugar content of beetroot increases the chances of alcoholic fermentation, which is not what we are after.
The brined beetroot can be diced and used to top soups or casseroles and is perfect served with a cheese platter.
- 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) filtered water
- 50 g (13⁄4 oz) sea salt
- 5 celery stalks, cut into 5 cm (2 in) pieces (or smaller depending on your jar)
- 6–8 medium beetroot (beets), peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 bay leaves
- zest of 1 orange
- ½ tsp juniper berries, lightly bruised using a mortar and pestle
- ½ tsp mixed peppercorns, cracked
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Fermentation time: 7-21 days
Bring 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of the water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the salt and stir until dissolved. Add the remaining water, then take the pan off the heat and allow the brine to cool to room temperature.
Put the celery in the jar with the beetroot, bay leaves, orange zest, juniper berries and peppercorns. Fill the jar completely, wedging the vegetables in as snugly as possible.
Pour in just enough of the cooled brine to completely cover all the ingredients, leaving 1–2 cm (½–¾ in) of space from the rim of the jar. Tap the jar on a folded tea towel (dish towel) to dislodge any air pockets. Close the lid tightly and place the jar on a tray to catch any liquid that may leak out during fermentation.
Leave in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight, with temperatures around 18–24°C (64–75°F), for 7–21 days or until furiously bubbling. When the bubbles subside, the brined vegetables are ready to eat, but if you prefer them more sour, leave the jar out for another 1–2 weeks. When they are to your liking, slow the fermentation process by storing the jar in the fridge. This will keep for 6–12 months.