More Please – Tickled Me Pickled 9


When Jujus said she’d pickled beets, I wrinkled my nose. I’d eaten them. I knew to wrinkle my nose. My beet encounter came in Ottumwa, Iowa. It’s as small as it sounds. By day five of my trip, I wanted salad the way the mother of triplets craves caffeine in the morning. There were five choices at the salad bar: potato salad (color: white), macaroni salad (color: white), iceburg lettuce with ranch dressing (color: white), Jell-o salad (color: neon green), and pickled beets (color :deep burgundy). I’d never thought of wanting beets before, but I wanted some of that burgundy on my plate. I wanted the color. I needed it in defense against the chicken fried steak, fried potatoes, and fried onions.

Eating the beets was like wearing a swimsuit for the first time after setting its color. I felt like there was vinegar in my nose, under my fingernails, and coating my skin. Can’t you see why I wrinkled my nose at Jujus and her pickled beets?

I watched as she tossed them with goat cheese and greens. The wrinkles of my nose became an inquisitive brow. She shared a bite. There was vinegar, but it was mild and combined with sugar and spice.

Our forks might have done a little battle dance for the largest pieces of beet, but it was friendly. After all, there were more beets in the refrigerator.

Tickle Me Pickled
Serves 4 (or 1 for multiple days)

You can use red or yellow beets. I prefer to make a double batch, so I have some of both. Don’t cook or marinate them together though. If you do, you won’t have the same vibrant color as preparing them separately.

1 bunch beets (4 or 5)
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS olive oil
1 TSP mustard seed, roughly ground (I like to use mustard seed instead of powder, because it adds an extra texture to the dish)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

If beets have stems attached, remove stems. If beets aren’t uniform in size, cut the large ones in half. Place beets in a pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Allow beets to cook until a fork is easily inserted into the beet (about 30 minutes).

While beets are cooking, whisk vinegar, sugar, olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper together. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Drain beets and rinse with cold water. Use your fingers to slip the peels off the beets. Discard peels and slice beets evenly (about ¼-½ inch thick).

Toss beets with vinegar and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to marinate at least 1 hour before serving or up to 1 week.
Note: Flavors will become more intense as time goes on.

Serving suggestions
(This veggie can be served as a garnish or side. It is limited only by your creativity.)

Standing in front of your refrigerator, eating them straight from the bowl with your fingers. Just make sure to wash your hands well before you touch anything else as the juice will stain.

Topped with goat cheese.

Tossed with greens and a pesto vinaigrette

On top of boiled potatoes

Recipe in print-friendly format


About Mikaela Cowles

I’m a food-gobbling, book-reading, aspiring photog. Born and raised in Seattle, I love dancing in the rain, bouquets of fresh basil and green grass between my toes. I like how kneading butter into flour makes my fingers soft. I’m passionate about all things sweet potato. I prefer my coffee black, my scotch on the rocks and my steak bloody. I hunt, when I have time; play basketball; and hike. I’ve been known to laugh so hard I hyperventilate. And, I’m the owner of Making Language Count, a boutique freelance writing business.


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9 thoughts on “More Please – Tickled Me Pickled

  • liz

    gorgeous pics! my mom loves pickled beets but the overly vinegar odor bothers me too. i might have to try the recipe! [ps i’m from iowa..and had no idea where ottumwa was. i dont miss the white salads.]

  • admin Post author

    Thanks you guys! I am had the last of them this morning for breakfast. Not the most “breakfasty” thing in the world, but oh so yummy!

    @Liz – Where in Iowa? Do you eat lots of corn? Iowa corn (and tomatoes and watermelon) oh goodness. Don’t get me started 😉

    @Julie – Please come eat with me!

    @Nami – Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • liz

    cedar rapids. the “big city” technically..but i did detasseling for a few summers and couldn’t eat corn for about 8 years. long island thinks they have good corn, but its nothing compared to home!

  • Kristine

    It always makes me laugh when you refer to Iowa (ie- “do you eat lots of corn?”). I think you need to visit more often to expand your Iowa culinary experiences :o)

    • admin Post author

      I couldn’t agree more! Although, I need to try and come when there’s not a lot of snow and not a lot of humidity and mosquitoes. Hum…. When I come, are we going to catch fireflies? I definitely want to spend a night with lots of fireflies next time I’m in the Mid-West.