Growing up I never would have touched beets. Like many people, to me, beets smelled like dirt. Since they smelled like dirt they must taste like dirt, right? So I thought. The first time I tried beets my grandmother was in the hospital, and I was visiting her at meal time. She had pickled beets on her dinner tray. For some reason that escapes me, I tried them. I actually liked them. I’ve had them a couple of different ways since but pickled is still one of the favorites. They are really good roasted with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar, or puréed and added to chocolate cake.
During the growing season I end up with a lot of produce from one of our local farms. I help unload the trucks at the end of the day after the farm markets and get a share of produce to take home with me. Last year must have been a good season for beets because I took home a LOT of them. I gave some away and pickled a bunch more, added some to chocolate cake and brownies, and we still had more beets. When I couldn’t give them away anymore and I had more jars of pickled beets than we would use, I needed to find something else to do with beets. Then I remembered beet wine.
A few years back my husband started brewing beer and making mead. I don’t remember where I found it, but I came across a recipe for beet wine. It sounded interesting, and I decided I wanted to make some, or more correctly, I wanted him to make some for me. I actually grew sugar beets in the garden to use for making wine the year before. That summer got busy and when the beets were ready we weren’t, so the pigs at the farm enjoyed the sugar beets instead.
This year wasn’t as busy and, surprisingly, it wasn’t too hard to talk my husband into making beet wine. The first thing I had to do was find the recipe again. None of the recipes we found were very detailed, and we improvised a bit as we went along. The basic ingredients for all them were beets, water, sugar, citrus, yeast, clove and cinnamon. We substituted honey for the sugar, so technically it would probably not be considered a wine. We also decided to use wine yeast instead of chancing the bread and yeast paste that most of the recipes called for. The next thing to do after putting it all together was to wait. And wait. And wait some more. It smelled so good while it was fermenting and color was beautiful, the waiting was torture.
After six months I was finally able to satisfy my curiosity and actually taste it. So how did it come out? It tasted really good and not at all like dirt. So good in fact that I’m keeping all the bottles at home, just for us. Even my husband said that so far the beet wine is a favorite. Needless to say, I’ll be growing a lot more beets in the garden this year, and there will be fewer jars of pickled beets on my shelves. My new favorite way to enjoy beets is in a glass. Cheers!