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Sweet-and-Sour Pickled Beets with Spring Onions

Scott Phillips

Yield: Makes about 2 quarts

These beautiful magenta pickles, spiced with juniper, clove, bay leaf, and cinnamon, are delicious alongside simple roast chicken or fish. Spring onions will lend a mild onion flavor, while scallions will be more pronounced.


  • 2 lb. beets (about 4 large), scrubbed and trimmed
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. spring onions or scallions
  • 1-1/2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 cups spring or filtered water
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 6 juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 15
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 5
  • Fat (g): 0.5
  • Saturated Fat (g): 0
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Cholesterol (mg): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 50
  • Carbohydrates (g): 3
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Sugar (g): 2
  • Protein (g): 0


  • Run 2 quart-size mason jars and their lids through the hottest dishwasher cycle to sanitize.
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.
  • Put the beets in a roasting pan, drizzle with the oil, and toss to coat. Cover with foil and roast until tender, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Let cool to room temperature. Peel the beets, cut into 1-inch pieces, and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Remove the green tops and roots from the onions or scallions. Slice spring onion bulbs into wedges, or cut the scallion whites into 2-inch pieces.
  • Combine the vinegars, water, sugar, salt, and spices in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the onions or scallions, cover, turn off the heat, and let steep for 1 minute. Remove the onions or scallions with a slotted spoon, leaving the brine in the saucepan, and gently toss with the beets.
  • Pack the beets and onions into the jars. Strain the spices out of the brine, and pour the brine over the vegetables, leaving a 1/2-inch head space. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Screw the lids on tightly, and let cure in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before serving. The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

• Serve alongside sliced beef tenderloin or poached fish.

• Finely chop and fold into a cold grain salad, along with hard-boiled eggs, tuna, and olives.

• Chop and fold into potato salad, with a little mayonnaise or Greek yogurt.

The recipe calls for curing the pickles in the refrigerator, but if you’d rather make them shelf-stable until they’re open, you can process the beets in a hot-water bath. Though they will soften over time, the unopened pickles will keep for up to 1 year at room temperature. Simply follow these instructions for hot-water canning, processing the jars for 10 minutes.


Why filtered water? Vegetables pickled in agrodolce pick up all of the flavors in the brine—that’s the whole point, after all. Because water is a main component of the brine, I recommend you filter your tap water or use bottled spring water. This way, you can be sure your pickles won’t take on any off flavors from municipal water-treatment chemicals, such as chlorine, or naturally occurring minerals in well water, like sulfur.


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