Trying something new

A week or so ago, I decided to clean out the refrigerator and freezer because I am expert at forgetting what I have on hand and buying stuff I don’t need. Among the things I excavated was a pack of four baseball-size beets that I roasted way back in September 2018. My first thought was to toss them into the compost bin as I assumed they would taste freezer-burned, stale. After all, they had been frozen for a long time, gone through at least one defrosting/refreezing, and weren’t particularly well-packaged. But I smelled them, and, well, they smelled just fine. Very beet-y. Then there’s the fact that I really hate to waste food.

My initial plan was to slice up the beets in a cold salad with red onion and vinegar, but I decided to search for recipes in case they contained suggestions for spices or other additions. During the hunt, I came upon a recipe for Spiced Beet and Red Onion Jam.

I’ve had mixed reactions to savory jams in the past. I’ve tried the tomato jam sold by a popular grocery chain, and found it excruciatingly sweet. Then I bought a jar of hot pepper bacon jam made by a boutique condiments company and again, I found it way too sweet. One reason I decided to try making the beet-onion jam was to see if I could make a savory jam that actually tasted savory, not like a fruit spread.

I read the jam recipe, and immediately hit a speedbump–it called for 2 cups of golden sugar. For one thing, I had never heard of golden sugar. For another, I didn’t want to add 2 cups of any kind of sugar to this jam. So I improvised–I decided to use the light brown sugar that I already had, and to cut it back to half a cup, which is a bit more than I use for fruit spreads. I also decided to add a scant teaspoon of the Pomona pectin, which gels by reacting with calcium instead of sugar (I added a teaspoon and a half of the Pomona calcium suspension). That way, I wouldn’t have to cook the jam as long or monitor the temperature. Since the beets had already been roasted, they didn’t need much cooking anyway.

The final product

The beets were still frozen, so I grated them using my Cuisipro box grater, which worked like a charm. The red onions, I just chopped. I added the spices, and boiled the mix for a few minutes. Since I wound up with about 3.5 cups total, I didn’t bother with full-blown preserving. I just packed the jam into glass containers and stuck it in the fridge to set.


Verdict? I liked this more than I thought I would, and will definitely make it again. Reducing the sugar allowed the flavor of the beets to come through, and the cayenne pepper added just the right amount of heat. I first tried it on crispbread atop my homemade hummus, with a few pieces of pecorino romano on the side. It made for a nice change of pace from my usual sun-dried tomato spread.

Note: I’m an Amazon Associate, and receive a commission on products bought from Amazon via links on this website (except for my books, which fall under a different account).