Pickled beetroot salad (beetslaai)

A bottle or two of tangy beetroot is a very handy thing to have in the pantry when you need to conjure up salad in a hurry. This spicy beetroot salad, also known as pickled beetroot or even beetroot relish, is a favourite in both South-Africa and New Zealand.

The one issue we have with beetroot salad is how the sauce runs all over your plate and turns everything red, but a friend showed Marietjie how she serves beetroot in wee bowls that are small enough to be placed on each plate. This way, the sauce stays out of trouble.


  • 750 to 800 gram raw beetroot
  • 1 cup (250 ml) brown vinegar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 1 cup (250 ml) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) all spice (optional)
  • Pinch of black pepper


  1. Wash and trim the ends from the beetroot and place in a saucepan.
  2. Cover with boiling water and boil until tender. This can take about 30 minutes, but the time depends on the size of your beetroot.
  3. Peel the skins and cut them into slices or wedges.
  4. Use a large stainless steel saucepan to heat the vinegar, water, sugar, and spices together. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and bring to the boil.
  5. Add the beetroot, lower the heat, put the lid on the saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Spoon the hot beetroot and sauce in to sterilised jars and seal the jars.


Allow the flavour of the beetroot to develop for at least a week before opening.

Pickled beetroot will keep for 6-8 months stored in a cool, dark place. Once opened, store in the refrigerator and serve cold.

Tip: use surgical gloves when you peel the beetroot, to prevent your hands from getting beet red.

Frederick's tip: you can use corn starch to make the sauce less runny. When the beetroot is almost ready to go into the jars, mix a tablespoon (15 ml) each of corn starch and water in a small bowl, add it to the simmering beetroot, stir through, and let the sauce simmer for a few more minutes until it has thickened and the corn starch is cooked. (A tablespoon of corn starch should be about right if your sauce has reduced down to about one cup, but you may need a bit more. It all depends on the fit of your saucepan's lid.)