Friday, November 9, 2012

Pickled Beets and Natural Soap Dye

A couple of days ago, I was gifted an enormous bag of beets freshly picked from Ararat Farm in Lincolnville, Maine. I like the taste of beets. Sean was willing to try them. And, the goats can eat the parts and pieces we don't, like the peels, tops and bottoms. We hadn't grown any ourselves this year, so I had not already preserved any. These were all persuasive reasons to try to pickle these to see how they would turn out. 

The recipe I found called for the beets to be boiled for about 35-40 minutes until they were easily pierced with a fork. I filled my canning pot with the beets and added water to cover them. I decided to try to boil them using the top of the wood stove, which was putting out heat already. It took about 1 1/2 hours until they were tender, but I was in no hurry and it saved on using our propane stove top.

I drained the water which the beets had leeched a beautiful deep, dark magenta. Seeing the color of the water, I had a thought. I have been trying my hand at making soap with mixed results. I like the idea of creating natural soaps without dyes, but I also want to make the soaps pretty in appearance. Why not reserve the water and freeze it in zip lock bags to use in place of plain tap water in my next batch?  With that in mind, I measured out 12 oz portions and set 14 portions to freeze. I don't know if this will work or not, but I plan to make my next batch of soap next weekend, so I guess I will find out.

I left the beets to cool. The next step was cutting off the tops and bottoms and peeling the cooled beets. It was very messy. Even with gloves, my fingers were a lovely shade of magenta before I finished. This was easily washed off with hand soap and warm water.
I mixed a brine solution by dissolving 1 cup kosher pickling salt and 1/2 cup sugar into 5 cups vinegar and 5 cups water. While the salt and sugar dissolved, I added 3 sprigs of dill, 3/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon garlic into quart canning jars. The recipe called for one large onion, sliced into slivers. I layered the cooled beets and onions slices into each jar, leaving about 1 inch of space at the top. Then, when the brine was ready, I ladled it over the beets and other ingredients in the jars.

I processed these for 25 minutes in my canner. Done. They should be ready to try in 7-10 days.

I took the peelings and left over parts to the goats this morning. Ellie loved them. The other goats were pushy, wanting their share, until they stuck their noses in the bowl to have a taste. No one, save Ellie seemed to like them. Oh well, perhaps, they will like them better raw. Hmmm. Worth a try! And, I will try to offer them again because beets are very high in iron and vitamins, so they make a great treat for the goats.

I am excited that the rain has moved off and it looks to be clear weather for the next few days.  The OSB we needed to complete the sheathing of the barn was delivered today. Sean and I will begin working on it in the morning. I can't wait to have this finished and to be able to check this project off my mental to do list. What a relief that will be!
Thanks for stopping by for a visit.
Sonja ♥


  1. You are just full of clever ideas! I love that you cooked the beets on the wood stove. Genius! Also, thinking to use the beet water for your soap was so smart. I hope it works out! I love how you used everything you could out of the beets and fed the goats the rest! This is homesteading at its finest :)

    1. Thanks! I hope it works! Would you be interested in another sample when my next batch sets up???- it takes about 4 weeks. I was really happy with the coconut/almond/olive oil- goat soap I made last time.

  2. I love your wood stove. Sounds like a great idea using the leftover beet water to make soap with. I bet it'll turn the soap a gorgeous color :)

    1. I hope so! You have been my biggest encouragement in soap making. I love seeing all the pretty ones you and your Mom create. :)

  3. I can't wIt to find out if the beet water works, great idea!

  4. Growing up, beets were about the only thing I would not eat. Now, as a senior citizen, I've tried them in a recipe for roasted beets in a salad. They were delicious! We should all try new things from time to time. I think the frozen red water should work fine. Good for you!

  5. I forgot to thank you for our box of goodies! I gave Momma T. her soap and pics of your beautiful girls. I will send a pic of the monkey your way soon.