Sweet and Sour Beets

Sweet and Sour Beets - IMG_4171

2013 – Gluten Free Living

I’m not a big fan of beets normally. I prefer to slice and then julienne them and serve beets raw in salads. Another way to serve raw beets is on a veggie tray with dip. I also like them grilled with just butter, salt and pepper. But when we went to a friend’s house in Black Mountain, NC, recently, he had a huge garden and so he was trying to find ways to serve beets. He found this recipe on food.com from kittencalskitchen. It is a pretty decent version of Harvard Beets. I have never liked Harvard Beets because of the vinegar, but I liked this recipe.

I finally got around to making these myself so I could show you the step-by-step process. I decided to dice the beets rather than slice them to give them a different texture. One of the things I like about this beets recipe is it calls for orange zest. I normally just use the stuff from the spice rack but I ran out during the Christmas holidays as I used a lot of it for baking cookies. So I hunted around in my garage refrigerators and thankfully came up with an orange to grate down the zest. I really like the flavor of using fresh orange zest in this recipe. Whatever you do, don’t leave out the orange zest because it provides the wonderful kick this recipe needs to augment the beets.

If you’re a beets lover, or you’ve planted beets in your garden this year then consider this tasty way of making them. You can easily make this recipe vegan by eliminating the butter and using coconut oil instead.

Sweet and Sour Beets - IMG_4171


Sweet and Sour Beets are a healthy, low calorie, gluten free dish.



This dish is relatively easy to make and quite economical on the food budget!


Here’s a serving of Sweet and Sour Beets. You can see a little of the orange zest on the beet at the bottom! The orange zest gives the beets a nice punch in flavor.


Here’s what I did.



I ended up using four beets.



Cut off ends and peel beets.



Instead of slicing the beets (the normal way this dish is made) I decided to dice them to provide a little different texture. Bring water to a boil and cook beets until done.  This is a very dense vegetable–even with this small size I ended up boiling the beets almost a half hour!



Meanwhile, make sweet and sour sauce: place sugar in a mixing bowl.



Add cornstarch.



Add kosher salt.



Stir ingredients together pressing out lumps with the back of your spoon.



Slowly add vinegar so lumps don’t form in the sauce.



Whisk to combine.



Add beet water. (Water from the pot you are cooking the beets in).



Stir to combine.


Cook over medium heat until the sauce gets thick and becomes more translucent.



Meanwhile, grate orange zest. To make homemade zest you can grate orange peels in your food processor and freeze in zip lock bags to keep on hand for recipes like this.



This sauce has thickened and lost it’s bright red color.



Drain beets.



Add beets to sweet and sour sauce.



Add butter. If you’re vegan or dairy intolerant you can easily substitute coconut oil at this point.



Add grated orange zest. Whatever you do, don’t eliminate the orange zest from the recipe. You need it to provide the kick in taste.



Stir to combine.



Add black pepper. 


Stir to combine and heat through. Serve.



This Sweet and Sour Beets recipe is a great way to use up garden produce or produce from your CSA.



Here’s a serving of Sweet and Sour Beets.



I’m not a big fan of beets but the sweet and sour sauce with orange zest really helps make it palatable.

Here’s the recipe.


(Recipe adapted from Ron Pownall, Black Mountain, NC, as adapted from kittencalskitchen on food.com)


1/3 cup sugar

¼ cup white vinegar

¼ cup water that you used to cook the beets with

1 tbsp. cornstarch

½ tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)

2 cups cooked beets, sliced or diced (fresh is better than canned) (I used 4 beets)

2 tbsp. butter (or use coconut oil if vegan)

1-2 tsp. grated orange zest

1/2 tsp. black pepper


In a bowl mix together the sugar, cornstarch and salt; stir in a little of the vinegar to make a smooth paste. Slowly drizzle in the remaining vinegar and the water (adding all the liquid at once can produce lumps in the cornstarch. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan; cook over low heat stirring and scraping bottom of the pan often. Cook until liquid is clear (about 5 minutes). Stir in cooked beets, butter and orange zest; stir until the beets are heated through. Season with black pepper as desired.


NOTE: Replace the butter with coconut oil if trying to stay vegan.



This is really a tasty recipe for beets.



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4 Responses to “Sweet and Sour Beets”

  1. July 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    I think I love beets too much some times! Such an incredible and rich vegetable! Thanks for sharing

    • July 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

      I have gotten more people to eat beets by having them taste them raw first. Super healthy, too.


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