How to Make Beet Raisins

Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones drops in to show us how to simmer and dry beet slices into beet raisins. It’s a great project for this in-between time, when we’re waiting for spring produce to arrive! -Marisa

Small slices of beets on a dehydrator tray will become beet raisins.

I’m not much of a cooking competition show watcher. The exceptions are the original Japanese Iron Chef, which I followed voraciously back in high school, The Great British Baking Show (of course), and a brief foray into MasterChef Junior — all shows that avoid the cutthroat, stressful nature of most reality TV.

So I can’t really blame myself for not knowing about beet raisins, with which chef Carrie Baird of Denver’s Bar Dough wowed the judges during an episode of Top Chef last year.

Cut beets on a cutting board for beet raisins.

A poster on the Food in Jars Community Facebook group mentioned them recently, and I was instantly fascinated. Beets are the kind of veggie I always wish I used more often. Now that I have an Instant Pot, it’s easy to quickly prep a bunch for a week of salads, but that’s as about as creative as I’ve gotten with them lately.

And while I’m waiting for the ever-so-slow unfolding of spring here in Philly, farmers’ market stands still have tons of sturdy storage beets in red and gold, harvested months ago. With strawberries still weeks away and grapes for actual raisins not available until high summer, I had to try this recipe.

Cut and peeled beets for beet raisins.

Baird’s recipe calls for melon balling the raw beets into uniform spheres, which is far more work than I wanted to put in. (A melon baller is also not one of the many culinary tools in my kitchen, and if I’ve managed to avoid getting one for this long, it’s not gonna happen now.)

So I peeled and trimmed my organic red beets, then halved them and cut each halves into five roughly equal slices, about half an inch thick and an inch or so long — cutting the pointy end, then slicing the remainder into quarters.

Cut beets in a pot that will become beet raisins.

Slices rather than balls also reduces waste, giving you more beet raisin for your buck. (My cuts gave me larger pieces in the end; if you want something more raisin-sized, do cuts closer to 1/2″ all around and cut the drying time.) The slices went into a pot with vinegar, sugar, water, and a pinch of salt.

Baird uses champagne vinegar, which you’re welcome to do; I used apple cider vinegar, because that’s what I had on hand (and I’m not trying to win a high-stakes cooking competition).

The slices simmered till they were very soft but not disintegrating, about two hours. Then, I drained the liquid — which you could use to make salad dressing, or add a little more salt and use it to quick-pickle some thinly-sliced hakurei turnips, for example — and let the slices cool for a bit.

Side view of beet slices on a dehydrator tray for beet raisins.

The cooked beet “grapes” then went into my Excalibur dehydrator at at 135oF, which is the setting recommended for fruit. After two hours, the beets were showing signs of dehydration, but their texture was still more like beets than raisins.

I upped the temperature to 145oF, which is the temperature I include in the recipe below. The beets took another three hours or so until they were sufficiently raisinlike for me to pull them out — next time, I might just turn the dehydrator up all the way to 155oF and see if that helps to shorten the dehydration time without overdrying.

When I did, they were wrinkly, chewy and toothsome, and pleasantly sweet and a little tart — just like real raisins! They’re super snackable and would be delicious in a bowl of yogurt with granola, or on a kale salad, as Baird served them on Top Chef. I could also see using them to top a tzatziki-esque cucumber salad along with lots of dill, toasted slivered almonds, and a pillowy pita.

Finished beet raisins in a small bowl.

They’re not quite as simple as stemming grapes and tossing them onto a dehydrator rack, but I’ll definitely be making these beet raisins again. Would you give them a try? Tell us in the comments!

How to Make Beet “Raisins” (Adapted from Bar Dough's Carrie Baird)

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds small beets
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Trim and peel the beets. Halve each beet and cut into roughly equal pieces that are about 1/2" by 1".
  2. Put the beets in a non-reactive 2-quart pot along with the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt and simmer gently, covered, until the beets are very soft but not falling apart, about 2 hours.
  3. Drain the beets of their liquid and allow them to cool. Place the beets on the rack of a dehydrator and dehydrate at 145 degrees F until chewy and raisinlike, 4 to 5 hours.
https://foodinjars.com/recipe/how-to-make-beet-raisins/

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14 responses to “How to Make Beet Raisins”

  1. Interested in trying this! Since you mention having an Instant Pot, do you think it would work to cook the beets in the in the water/vinegar in the Instant Pot rather than simmering for 2hrs on the stove? I’ve never tried beets in the IP, any recommendation on whether it’d work to cook them whole or to dice them up into the smaller pieces first?

    • This would save a lot of time but I’m not sure if it will work, unfortunately (or maybe I’m just not enough of an Instant Pot ninja to know if it would).

      The IP is great for cooking beets in general, but I’ve always made them whole and steamed, elevated on a rack above water. If you wanted to try to pressure-cook them in the brine mixture to infuse them with the flavor, I imagine you’d have to cut up the beets and submerge the beet pieces in the liquid. The recipe also calls for more liquid than the IP needs to work its magic.

      So my answer is…possibly but I haven’t tried it.

  2. Kudos for finding this jewel of a recipe! I love this idea, it seems like a winner to have on hand to toss into salads and such. Wonderful, can’t wait to make these!

    • How low a temp. will your oven maintain? If it’s a gas oven with a pilot light that stays on, that would probably work. Mine’s an electric, and won’t stay on if set for much under 200 deg., so that’s out. I’ve dried herbs in the turned-off oven after taking bread etc. out, but of course thin leaves take a lot less time than something thick/solid.
      Have you ever sun-dried anything? (The Good Old Days . . . . ) If you can sun-dry apple or tomato slices, you probably have hot enough sunshine to do this.

  3. H’mmm . . . my sister likes cranberries in spinach salad; this might make something similar to that.
    How would it work in muffins? That’s where most of my raisins go.
    Interesting idea!

  4. Thanks for this! I spotted the recipe for this online a while back but was put off by the waste that using a melon baller would create. I will certainly try this method, although I will have to try using the dehydrator setting on my oven as I don’t have a dedicated dehydrator.

  5. Never heard of beet raisins – this is very interesting and perfect for this year as 2018 is the year of the beet according to National Garden Bureau!

  6. I hope to find some beets to try this, but wonder how you store them if they are’n’ all consumed quickly?

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