Pickled beetroot

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Pickled beetroot

With a very harsh climate Swedes had to learn to preserve foods to see them through their long hard winters. Although this is no longer necessary, the Swedes have developed a great affection for the old fashioned ways of preserving, including pickling.

Beetroots are particularly sweet and benefit from being paired with something acidic, which is why Swedes have a long tradition of pickling them.


Pickled beetroots are used as an accompaniment to classic Swedish dishes such as pyttipanna (a kind of Swedish hash/fry-up) and as an ingredient in biff à la Lindström (a classic Swedish burgers). John Duxbury


Recipe summary for pickled beetroots


• Use a couple of star anise and a tablespoon of black peppercorns instead of the spices shown below.
• Use 3 or 4 whole allspice berries and 1 teaspoon of white peppercorns instead of the spices shown below.


1 kg (2¼ lb) beetroot, preferable gold-ball sized
1 tsp   salt
500 ml   clear distilled malt (spirit) vinegar (5%)
300 g (1¼ cups) caster (superfine) sugar


10   whole white peppercorns
3   cloves

*Swedes would normally use a spirit vinegar called ättiksprit. If you are using 12% ättiksprit dilute it with 3 parts water to produce a 4% solution.


Beetroots waiting pickling

1. Rinse the beetroots, but leave a short length of the root and the tops on them.

Beetroots being boiled

2. Place the beetroots in a large saucepan with just enough water to cover them. Add the salt and boil until just tender. This will depend on size, variety and freshness and can vary from about 10 minutes up to nearly an hour. They need to have a little bite so don’t overcook them.

Making the pickling solution

3. Meanwhile, boil the vinegar, sugar and spices in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. When it comes to the boil, turn off the heat and leave to cool.

4. Wash a couple of preserving jars, sufficient for about 700 ml (3 cups). Place the jars in a warm oven for about 10 minutes to sterilise them and sterlise the rubber seals in boiling water.

Scrapping the skins off the beetroots

5. When the beetroots are cool, scrape the skins off. Slice the beetroot into 5 mm (¼”) thick slices or leave them whole if they were golf-ball sized originally. Pack them into the sterilised jars, pressing them down to get as much beetroot into each jar as possible.

6. Pour the vinegar mixture into each jar. If there is not enough, top up the jars with boiling water.

Two jars of pickled beetroot

7. When the jars are cold, seal them and leave the beetroot to rest for at least a week before serving.


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