Pickled Beetroot with Shallots

Beetroot is vastly underestimated, in my opinion. Perhaps that's because the strong malt vinegar of the commercial pickling masks the true flavour of the beetroot, or maybe it's because of overboiling. But when prepared in the following way it provides a wonderfully flavoured and textured accompaniment to cold cuts at Christmas time. To sterilise the jar, wash it thoroughly in warm soapy water, rinse and heat in a moderate oven for 5 minutes.

Makes an 18 fl oz (500 ml) jar

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Christmas and Delia's Vegetarian Collection.

Pickled Beetroot with Shallots
 1 lb (450 g) raw beetroot
 2 shallots
 6 fl oz (175 ml) red wine vinegar
 ½ level teaspoon mixed pepper berries
 ½ level teaspoon crushed sea salt
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C).
You will also need an 18 fl oz (500 ml) jar, sterilised as described above.


Trim the beetroot and wipe them, but leave the skins on. Then wrap them all up together in a parcel of foil. Place the parcel on a baking sheet and bake them for about 3 hours or until they feel tender when pierced with a skewer. Now remove them from the oven and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and slice the beetroot thinly.

Peel and thinly slice the shallots too, then layer the beetroot and shallots in the sterilised jar. Next place the vinegar, berries and salt in a small saucepan, bring up to simmering point, and pour the whole lot straight over the beetroot and shallots to cover them completely.

Seal the jar immediately, label it when cold, then store. The beetroot doesn't need to mature – it can be eaten within a day or two and will keep well, provided it is always totally immersed in the vinegar (so you may need to top it up after you use some).

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