Little ol’ beet winemaker

From root to glass in just a year.

From root to glass in just a year.

From the mucky wet soils of winter comes the most dazzling of vegetables: the beet. We discussed beet recipes in Homegrown this summer, and we discouraged boiling, which draws out flavor, nutrients and that brilliant magenta hue, sending it, sadly, down the drain. With beets still in season and with people still boiling them by the batch (we prefer baking or broiling) we thought we’d offer this suggestion: Make wine with your beet juice.

Ingredients: 5 pounds of beets, two lemons, 1 tablespoon of chopped ginger, 2 1/2 pounds of sugar, 1 gallon of water, 1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient and one packet of wine yeast. You can find the last two of these ingredients at the Folsom Brewmeister (802-A Reading Street in Folsom) or the Sacramento Original Home Brew Outlet (5528 Auburn Boulevard, No. 1).

Wash and dice the beets. Boil in a large pot for 30 minutes with half of the recipe’s water, the ginger and the lemon zest. Strain the liquid into a clean food-grade bucket or cauldron. Add the remaining sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the remaining ingredients—but wait until the mixture has cooled before adding the yeast. Cover with a tight lid. When the bubbling of fermentation stops after about a week, pour the wine into a glass gallon jug fitted with an airlock (best purchased from one of the brew shops). Allow three months for particulates to settle. Then bottle.

Enjoy after a year—and note: This recipe renders a beautifully, radiantly red wine that’s more dangerous to white carpets than any cab or petite sirah that ever did spill from a bottle, so drink beet wine only at work parties.