Christmas Eve Borsht (Barszcz Wigilijny) Recipe

Christmas eve borscht
Christmas Eve Borsht is one of those dishes that you eat once a year and when you eat it you wonder why you don’t eat it more often.

You promise yourself to ferment a new batch of beets right after Christmass but somehow you never do.  A bit like catching up with old friends, isn’t it? You think, it’s so much hassle but, in fact, the hassle is tiny compared to the intensity of the enjoyment it brings to your life.

Barszcz wigilijny holds a special place in my fermentation journey and you can read about it here.

So, this is how to make Christmas Eve Borscht.

Take:

one-liter jar with a lid
1 very big (raw) beetroot (or 2-3 small)
2 cloves of garlic
2-3 pimentos (called also allspice, do not panic if you cannot buy it, it is not essential part)
1-2 bay leaves (again, no panic)
tablespoon of salt
water

Peel and cut beetroots and place it along with peeled garlic and spices in the jar. Boil water, add salt to it and pour the solution into the jar with the beetroots. You can put a piece of wholemeal sourdough bread on top to boost the fermentation (remove it when gets very soggy).

Close the lid and leave the jar in a warm place. Remember to put a cloth or plate underneath, as brine leaking from the jar can damage the surface the jar is placed on. Watch if the beets are submerged in the water all the time. You can weight them down, but I think it is easier just to cut them in big chunks so that they don’t float.

After around 10 days, you can use it to cook borscht.

Take:

big pot
bunch of raw beetroots
1-2 carrots
1 parsnip
small piece of celeriac
leek
2-3 pimentos (remember, no panic)
1-2 bay leaves (as above)

Cook everything in the water. Do not use meat stock, because it is Polish Christmas Eve recipe and we do not touch meat that day.
When all the vegetables are cooked and soup has lovely beetrooty colour, sift the veg out. You will only need the water. Turn the cooker off and go to fetch your fermented beetroot in a jar. Now, open the jar and smell its contents. Also, give it a scrutinous visual inspection. If you can see anything that looks like mould, throw everything out. If the juice is clear and smells nice (however sourly), pour it into the soup. Flavor with salt and pepper.
And that is it.

I will explain in the next post how to serve the borscht and what to do with all the leftover vegetables – cooked and fermented.

See you!

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