Pickled Beets, Salad Dressing, and Diabetes

Life sometimes presents “odd things”.

Following those “odd things” to an end point can be a lot of fun, and sometimes you “learn things”.

So last night, late, I wanted a snack. Digging around the kitchen, not much of interest. (Yes, the “usual” home made bread, jam, etc. but I’ve had “the usual” a lot. For some odd reason I wanted something “different” and “tangy”…) There, on the shelf, was a can of “Pickled Beets”. I sometimes buy one. It usually sits a long time. Nobody else in my family will eat them. I eat them from time to time mostly because my Dad loved them and so we had them on the table every week or three when I was growing up – even though I’d only eat one slice… often after some ‘encouragement’. He loved them as they made their own on the farm (Pickled beets being one of the easiest things to ‘put up’ for winter) which meant he ate a lot of them on the farm and grew up eating them.

So out of nostalgia, and a little bit for their ‘bite’ of vinegar, and only a little bit for the beet flavor, I sometimes buy a can. Just so they don’t disappear from the world like so many other traditional foods.

OK, fork in hand, I eat the beets. 15 oz can. Don’t now how much is actually beets. And I sip s bit of the “beet juice” that’s basically red vinegar…

Thinking nothing about it, I head off to bed.

A Bit Personal

OK, this is a bit ‘personal’… but hang in there…

The Spouse, who used to complain about freezing cold in a nice 72 F (normal room temperature) has the last few years started wanting the heat turned down to 65 or less. On top of that can be ‘hot flashes’. So the bedroom is “unheated”. It basically gets whatever leaks in through the walls from the rest of the house. I have an added blanket on ‘my side’; but still, at 3 AM things are getting “a bit cold”. I can do reasonably well with it ( as a kid my “bedroom” was an unheated attic conversion that had no insulation, so frequently got to the 40 or 30 range in winter (near freezing). I liked it a lot as I could breath “in the cold”. Only later figuring out it wasn’t “cold” but being away from the tobacco smoke that let me breath… Later still learning I was allergic to the smoke…)

So I can “put up with” cold fairly well. Besides, in California our definition of cold is a bit warmer than others ;-)

But you still KNOW how cold it is, even if you are OK with it.

So usually I’m feeling a bit cold in the hands or feet, and the top of the head is asking for a sleeping cap…

But not last night. The metabolic rate was running higher. No particular reason I can see. Yesterday’s meals were not exceptional. I had wine with dinner and desert, but have done that many times. No, this was ‘different’. Thinking about it, I vaguely remembered being a bit ‘energized’ other times I’d eaten pickled beets. Not coffee hyper kind of energized, just a bit more active. So all night long, I was not feeling particularly the cold. In fact, I ditched a layer at one point. Just TOO warm. Now, at 7 am, whatever “it” was is wearing off a bit. I’m starting to notice a bit of cool again.

Yet I’m still left with a generalized “lift” of spirits and energy / enthusiasm. While yesterday I’d been a ‘bit down’ (and for a couple of days before that too), now I’m not. Having that “lets go find something to do” feeling. As I’m typically not even awake at 7 am and my first desire is to find coffee, at least enough to feel like making breakfast and not sneak back to bed “this is different”.

That sent me off wondering about vinegar.

Vinegar, Fats, and Diabetes

This is not going to have my typical “searched through a few dozen things and worked it down to the basic biochemistry” style. Heck, it’s before 8 am and I’ve not even smelled any coffee yet. So it’s just a pointer to some limited evidence.

There’s a whole folklore / “alternative” medicine cult based on vinegar. The spouse takes a Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in water for some (supposed?) help with arthritic pains. As she keeps doing it, I figure it must do something for her, maybe. But that’s about the limit of my involvement in that “alternative” vinegar line.

But it’s enough to leave me wondering “Is it the beets or the vinegar?”. As I’ve not noticed anything like this with regular canned beets, though not deliberately tested, it points me a bit toward the vinegar. (It’s also possible I’ve got some vitamin or mineral deficiency that the beets fixed; as root vegetables they have a lot of minerals.) So I ought to do a dive into the nutritional and medicinal history of beets, but I remind you of that “coffee limitation”… So that bit will wait….

On a quick check, I’ve found a couple of surprising things from people with M.D. after their names. Hmmmm…. While not a guarantee (there are M.D. folks with crazy ideas too) it does offer more reliability than “just some guy selling vinegar said”…


Vinegar May Prevent Build Up of Fat

According to foodnavigator-usa.com, a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that animals fed a high-fat diet (50% of energy from fat) and supplemented with acetic acid at two different levels developed about 10 per cent less body fat than mice just eating the diet. The Japanese researchers, led by Tomoo Kondo from the Central Research Institute of the Mizkan Group Corporation, found that vinegar was working at a genetic level, by influencing genes linked to fatty acid oxidation and heat-generating (energy burning) proteins. According to the researchers, “The results of this study suggest that acetic acid suppresses body fat accumulation by increasing fatty oxidation and thermogenesis in the liver through PPAR-alpha.”

That whole “foods as epigenetic modifier” thing… The “heat generating” in particular matches what I felt. A 10% lower body fat level is rather significant, even in mice.

From that same site:

Benefit of Vinegar Consumption in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

Research was published in the November 2007 issue of Diabetes Care that demonstrated that vinegar ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations. The investigators at Arizona State University (ASU) found that the vinegar treatment was especially effective for the six subjects who had a typical fasting glucose greater than 7.2 mmol/L. Fasting glucose in these participants was reduced by 6 percent compared with a reduction of 0.7 percent in those with a typical fasting glucose less than 7.2 mmol/L. According to an article about the study, the researchers concluded, “Vinegar is widely available, it is affordable, and it is appealing as a remedy, but much more work is required to determine whether vinegar is a useful adjunct therapy for individuals with diabetes.”

Antiglycemic Properties of Vinegar in Healthy Adults

Dr. Carol Johnston of Arizona State University (ASU) has been researching the use of vinegar in treating Type II diabetes. Most recently, Dr. Johnston and colleagues published research in the January 2010 online issue of Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, titled, “Examination of the Antiglycemic Properties of Vinegar in Healthy Adults.” The researchers concluded that “The antiglycemic properties of vinegar are evident when small amounts of vinegar are ingested with meals composed of complex carbohydrates. In these situations, vinegar attenuated PPG (postprandial glycemia) by ~20% compared to placebo.” In short, vinegar reduces PPG in healthy adults. Of note, the researchers state that taking steps to reduce PPG is recommended by the American Diabetes Association to limit complications of diabetes.

So it’s helpful in diabetes…

I think this is the same Dr. Carol Johnston. It would be nice to find the same information from a different Dr. for confirmation.


This pick up after the “Narrator” does an intro:

Carol Johnston, Ph.D.:

Hippocrates used it thousands of years ago as a medicine.


Carol Johnston is studying the benefits of vinegar. In one study, three groups of people – healthy, pre-diabetic and type two diabetics… were tested to see if vinegar would lower their blood glucose levels.

Carol Johnston, Ph.D.:

Both the blood glucose and insulin were better managed after the meal when they consumed the vinegar.

Carol Johnston, Ph.D.:

It appears that the vinegar mimics the effects of both Acrabose and Metformin which are two of the commonly prescribed medications for diabetics.


Johnston’s vinegar solution was then tested to see if it could lower cholesterol levels. It didn’t… but it did offer something else.

Carol Johnston, Ph.D.:

Interestingly, the group that got the vinegar lost several pounds on average and that was significant compared to the placebo group that had no change in their weight.

So, in short, it does look like there is at least some effect directly from the vinegar. So on the shopping list goes vinaigrette and off comes the Ranch Dressing! ;-) I think I’ll also be looking into a few more pickles in the diet and perhaps have those pickled beets more frequently.

Oddly, the articles I’ve seen all go on about how it gets tiring to drink the vinegar every day even diluted in water; and not one of them has mentioned pickles. There’s a fair amount of vinegar IN the picked foods. But at least one of them did mention oil and vinegar salad dressing…

These folks claim it can help high blood pressure (but the site is one of the ‘lots of touchy feely not many tortured rats’ ones, so I’d rather see a published paper involving mice and tiny little blood pressure cuffs ;-) but it’s a pointer to further possibles:


Apple Cider Vinegar Cures

Apple Cider Vinegar, that wonderful old-timers home remedy, cures more ailments than any other folk remedy — we’re convinced! From the extensive feedback we’ve received over the past 8 years, the reported cures from drinking Apple Cider Vinegar are numerous. They include cures for allergies (including pet, food and environmental), sinus infections, acne, high cholesterol, flu, chronic fatigue, candida, acid reflux, sore throats, contact dermatitis, arthritis, and gout. Apple Cider Vinegar also breaks down fat and is widely used to lose weight. It has also been reported that a daily dose of apple cider vinegar in water has high blood pressure under control in two weeks!

I’m surprised they didn’t mention it also cleans glass and makes a battery with an iron knife and copper pot so cures the ‘energy crisis’…

I did run into several links about antibiotic properties and various uses in food preservation (including meats). Lab tests found that Wine Vinegar worked best (due to all the other fermentation byproducts in addition to the vinegar) so for killing bacteria use wine or apple cider vinegar.

Then there are the ‘middle ground’ sites. References to folks with Ph.D. or MD. after their name, but still not quite citing published research:


I had to study the Krebs Cycle in biology (when that was my major for a few years…) but never thought to connect it to vinegar..

Krebs’ Theory

The theory of Dr. Krebs, a British scientist, explains how vinegar can eliminate fatigue. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for proving this theory in 1953. Through it, he explains clearly how food is changed into energy, or burned, in the body of almost all animals including human beings and bacteria. He also explains what fatigue is and how it can be eliminated.

I owe this knowledge about the relation between vinegar and fatigue to the late Doctor of Pharmacology and Professor Emeritus, Shichiro Akitani of Tokyo University. He was fascinated by this subject and found clues to solve these problems during the World War II. Though a busy man, he took every opportunity to recommend people take as much vinegar as possible.

Even if lactic acid, one of the substances causing fatigue, is created in your body, it will soon disappear if the Citric Acid Cycle is working well. Oxaloacetic acid plays a crucial role for the Cycle to work well. But citric and other acids are changed to it eventually. Therefore, it is important that you take an adequate amount of these acids so that the Cycle works well.

Pyroracemic acid (pyruvic acid) is a toxic substance which paralyzes nerves. Lactic acid makes the blood acidic and stiffens muscles.

Dr. Lipman, an American scientist, contributed greatly to clarifying how ATP was created. Drs. Krebs and Lipman were awarded Nobel prizes for their contribution in 1953.

As for the details of the creation of ATP, researchers are making efforts to clarify them at present.

Digestion means decomposing starch into glucose; protein is converted into the twenty or more kinds of amino acids which make up protein; and fat is changed into glycerine and fatty acids in our bodies.

The food we consume is eventually burned, or changed into a substance called ATP (adenocine triphosphate) which can give out heat easily. Almost all of the starch, protein, and fat we take in are consumed in our bodies to generate heat, although they are also used to repair our body when needed. The Krebs’ theory explains the process called the “Citric Acid Cycle,” where ATP is usually produced.

Almost all of the food you eat is changed first into citric acid, then into aconitic, isocitric, alpha-ketoglutaric, and four other kinds of acids in your mitochondria. In the course of this change, these acids reduce in quantity. The lost portion of the quantity is used to produce heat (ATP), carbon dioxide (discharged through exhalation), and water (discharged through urine and sweat). Such change and production is caused by specific enzymes in the mitochondria.

Which matches with my lower feeling of ‘fatigue’ right now. It also explains why I get a similar effect from eating grapefruit via their citric acid.

OK, it’s not as complete as I’d like. But it does look like Citric Acid and the Citric Acid Cycle / Krebs Cycle are key players, and it looks like Acetic Acid (aka Vinegar) gets into the mix too. There is an epigenetic mechanism to shift metabolism, and it has an impact on carbohydrate metabolism that is helpful for diabetes. Along the way, blood pressure gets a bit lowered.

All sounds good. While it really does cry out for a bit more in the way of formal studies, given the population of degreed folks being cited, I’m willing to accept a bit of an “argument from authority” while looking for more proof. Certainly enough to put pickles, salad w/ vinaigrette, pickled beets and maybe even some relish on the menu.

At least until the spouse lets me turn the heater back up ;-)

The History

Nothing like coming late to a story… but 5000 years late? It think that’s a new record for me…


Recorded vinegar history starts around 5000 BC, when the Babylonians were using the fruit of the date palm to make wine and vinegar. They used it as a food and as a preserving or pickling agent. Vinegar residues have been found in ancient Egyptian urns traced to 3000 BC. As well, recorded vinegar history in China starts from texts that date back to 1200 BC.

During biblical times, vinegar was used to flavor foods, as an energizing drink, and as a medicine, and it is mentioned in both the old and new testaments. For example, after working hard gleaning barley in the fields, Ruth was invited by Boaz to eat bread and dip it in vinegar. (Ruth 2:14)

In ancient Greece, around 400 BC, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, prescribed apple cider vinegar mixed with honey for a variety of ills, including coughs and colds.

I’ll have to try that Biblical bread dipped in vinegar, but I suspect it will work better with a rougher whole grain bread.

Maybe those old Biblical Times folks and Babylonians were on to something…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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37 Responses to Pickled Beets, Salad Dressing, and Diabetes

  1. agimarc says:

    Favorite son has terrible reflux. He is a CP youngster so he can’t tell us what hurts, though over the years we kind of figure some of it out. Been using nexium / omeprezol to control it. Have been using apple cider vinegar – honey (1 T of each in 8-12 oz water) for over 2 months to take the edge off of it. Seems to work decently well. On his bad days, he gets a glass in the morning and one in the evening before supper. On good days, we do the supper glass. Seems to work, as when we forget, he has a restless night. I’d say it works pretty well. Given your post above, sounds like I need to look into using it also.

    When are you going to have another round on boron / borax / boric acid? Cheers –

  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    Don’t forget to add a bit of olive oil with that vinegar. pg

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    Maybe I should look into canning some pickled beets as I have a bed of beets in the ground for winter fare. Damn things are a mess to work with as they “bleed” on everything, but they are quite sweet. pg.

  4. philjourdan says:

    Ok, first the side bar. My wife is worse than yours! Dead of winter, 10 degrees, no heat, and the windows open! Our winters are colder.

    But on the subject of beats, I wonder about vinegar as well. Since my doctor put me on a mild diuretic for my hypertension (very mild), I have noticed that I have more regular and easy BMs when I eat a salad a day with – Italian Salad dressing. Which of course consists of mostly – vinegar! It makes you wonder how much we DO NOT know about ancient remedies and what effect they really have on our systems. I saw and read your comments on the WUWT topic about foods and health. And the more we learn, the more we see how our ancestors found things that we are just rediscovering.

  5. Crashex says:

    On a potentially related thread,


    This study links gut bacteria (enterobacter?) that produces endotoxins to obesity. They conducted the experiment by changing the PH of the subject’s gut through diet. A quick acetic acid wash is a pretty quick way to affect the PH.

  6. Petrossa says:

    My wife puts vinegar on everything, she even bakes liver in it. To me it is like inhaling musterdgas. I nagged her endlessly till she renounced on vinegar. There must be something less toxic that helps :-(

  7. Petrossa says:

    Funny just got this in my tl http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1486829 . Apparently lifestyle modifications don’t help much with diabetes

  8. PaulID says:

    my wife likes to drink my homemade pickle brine, straight, yes I know weird but she loves it so it is cool with me, we pickle eggs and ferment as much as we can given our time constraints.

  9. PaulID says:

    sorry she just got after me she sips my pickle brine (without taking more than a breath between sips.)

  10. Kent Gatewood says:

    Any recommendations on dosage? I like malt vinegar on my fish. Haven’t experimented with other vinegars.

  11. DirkH says:

    PaulID says:
    20 December 2012 at 3:06 am

    “sorry she just got after me she sips my pickle brine (without taking more than a breath between sips.)”

    Some people drink Balsamico as an aperitif.

  12. DirkH says:

    Petrossa says:
    19 December 2012 at 9:22 pm
    “Apparently lifestyle modifications don’t help much with diabetes”

    No, they say “However, the absolute remission rates were modest.” – both methods they compared were rather successful overall.

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    Fascinating… from that link:

    Lipopolysaccharide endotoxin is the only known bacterial product which, when subcutaneously infused into mice in its purified form, can induce obesity and insulin resistance via an inflammation-mediated pathway. Here we show that one endotoxin-producing bacterium isolated from a morbidly obese human’s gut induced obesity and insulin resistance in germfree mice.

    So we have the “tortured mice” threshold that shows it’s “real science” ;-)

    I find the inflammation link interesting as well…

    The endotoxin-producing Enterobacter decreased in relative abundance from 35% of the volunteer’s gut bacteria to non-detectable, during which time the volunteer lost 51.4 kg of 174.8 kg initial weight and recovered from hyperglycemia and hypertension after 23 weeks on a diet of whole grains, traditional Chinese medicinal foods and prebiotics. A decreased abundance of endotoxin biosynthetic genes in the gut of the volunteer was correlated with a decreased circulating endotoxin load and alleviated inflammation.

    A bit of a ‘flag’ with the ‘medicinal foods’ and ‘prebiotics’. Would like to see a comparison with just “meat and potatoes” or “whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish”…

    Mono-association of germfree C57BL/6J mice with strain Enterobacter cloacae B29 isolated from the volunteer’s gut induced fully developed obesity and insulin resistance on a high-fat diet but not on normal chow diet, whereas the germfree control mice on a high-fat diet did not exhibit the same disease phenotypes.

    So “the bug” interacts with fats. Wonder if it varies by type of fats…

    Endotoxin-induced inflammation seems to be essential for the development of obese and insulin-resistant phenotypes in the mouse model involving LPS infusion, as CD14-knockout mice did not develop these phenotypes after endotoxin infusion (Cani et al., 2007). Epidemiological studies show increased population of endotoxin producers and elevated endotoxin load in various obese cohorts (Lepper et al., 2007; Ruiz et al., 2007; Moreno-Navarrete et al., 2011),

    Hmmmm…. wonder if anti-inflammatory drugs would help… Aspirin for instance?…

    The paper has names at the bottom that are a load of Chinese names, so the “Chinese medicinal” flag gets reduced (not crazy western fad followers but actual Chinese folks just doing what they do). The ‘supplemental information’ is rather complete, but a quick scan didn’t show what the details of the chow were…

    Click to access ismej2012153x1.pdf

    OK, looks like it’s some kind of pre-defined food mix and I need to read it all more carefully to find out what it is.

    At any rate, very promising. Looks like we can likely add “Obesity” to “Ulcers” as things where the person was accused of emotional causality and really it was bacteria…

    FWIW, I’ve followed an ‘old style’ pattern to our meal plan for ages. Protein, Starch, Vegetable. The ‘protein’ can be anything from steak to cheese to beans, the starch can be a baked potato, rice, beans, corn. The Vegetable is self explanatory I think ;-)

    Sometimes it’s a vegetarian mean, sometimes not. My weight sits at +/- about 5 to 10 lbs no matter what. Went on various other odd diets with friends. Was able to push it down about 5 lbs from the mid-point, but that’s about it. I can gorge until I can’t stand it, and don’t go up more than 10 lbs. If I just lay around and do nothing, I loose weight… (dropped about 40 lbs on a ‘mostly bed rest’ and all you can eat regime. I was in a ‘study’…)

    Mostly when I’ve had ‘surprise weight gain’ it’s been directly related to consumption of Trans-Fats beyond about 1/2 to 1 gram / day OR a junk food heavy diet that caused a gut flora imbalance. Never understood why, but noticed that when I went back to the ‘triad’ approach, I felt better and lost the extra. Lots of sugar, processed packaged stuff, and refined starches caused the “issues” to show. Yet the ‘triad’ made with whole meats, vegetables, grains & breads works fine. Oh, on a couple of occasions I’ve had to use yogurt to get the bacterial mix back to something good.

    So I think perhaps accidentally I ran into a similar ‘space’. Traditional foods and not a lot of things that let the bacteria flush out of balance. Hmmmm….

  14. p.g.sharrow says:

    Anyone out there have a good pickle brine recipe. I have a lot of beets to pickle and can. pg

  15. Judy F. says:


    This is an old recipe, with no processing times included. I will write it exactly as it came to me.

    Grandma’s Red Beet Pickles

    2 cups vinegar
    1 cup water
    3 Tablespoons sugar
    pickling spices, in a pouch

    Cook beets until tender, skin and chunk or slice. Pack into jars. Mix vinegar, water, sugar and pickling spices, bring to a boil and cook for a short time. Remove spices from syrup and pour syrup over beets. Seal and process.

    Or: http://pickyourown.org/pickledbeets.htm

    also: http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com/blind_pig_the_acorn/2011/07/easy-recipe-for-pickling-beets.html

    My #2 son made some red beet wine from his Great Grandma’s recipe. It is a beautiful red, but REALLY strong. It’s an idea if you get tired of pickling the beets :)

  16. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Judy F; thank you, I will try grandma’s beets, Not sure about Great GrandMa’s wine. ;-) I Mite be up to that challenge a bit later. I have about 100ft of beet rows to dig. I was sure someone here would help me out. pg

  17. Judy F. says:

    Another recipe that looks to be a little sweeter than Grandmas. I think it is the Ball Blue book recipe.

    Pickled Beets
    3 quarts beets ( about 24 small)
    2 cups sugar
    2 sticks cinnamon
    1 Tablespoon whole allspice
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    3 1/2 cups vinegar
    1 1/2 cups water

    Wash beets, cook then peel and dice (or slice)
    Combine sugar, spices, salt, water and vinegar in a large pot
    Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
    Remove spices
    Pack beets into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace
    Ladle hot liquid over beets, leaving 1/4 inch headspace
    Remove any air bubbles, apply lids and bands
    Process 30 minutes in a hot water bath
    Yield: 6 pints or 3 quarts.

    Your 100 foot row of beets reminds me of when #2 son decided to raise potatoes.( #2 son always has some kind of experiment going on. He is the one who is now trying to raise wine grapes in northeastern colorado ) He had about a quarter acre of potatoes, that needed harvesting AFTER he left on a three month trip to Australia. We did not have any machinery to dig them, so dug them all by hand. It was exhausting and I couldn’t quite get them all done, before my shoulder gave out. I had been nursing a rotator cuff injury, and all those potatoes did me in. So, beware of root crops. :)

  18. E.M.Smith says:


    Pickled Red Beets Heat juice then add beets. Heat again to boiling then put into jars and seal.

    1¾ cups sugar
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    3 teaspoons salt
    1¾ cups vinegar
    1¾ cups beet water
    1¾ cups water


    3 qts. sm. beets
    3 c. vinegar
    2 tbsp. salt
    4 c. sugar
    1 1/2 c. water
    2 cinnamon sticks (optional)

    Cook the beets. Combine the rest of the ingredients and boil them to a syrup. Pour the boiling syrup over the beets in hot jars, then seal them. Cold pack them for 10-15 minutes.


    Amish Pickled Eggs and Beets

    2 c. cleaned and trimmed beets, fresh
    1/4 c. sugar
    1/2 c. vinegar
    1/2 c. cold water
    1/2 tsp. salt
    6 hard cooked eggs, peeled

    Cook beets until tender and skin.

    Boil all ingredients except the eggs together; let mixture stand for several days.

    Add whole eggs and let stand in the refrigerator two days.

    From various links on the internet. The last one, BTW, looks rather a lot like what I remember my Dad telling me his Mom did… While, at the time, I thought the idea of picked beets and eggs was ‘crazy talk’ I can now see it has a lot going for it…

    I particularly remember the 1:2:2 ratio of sugar, vinegar, water (and in tsp another 2 for salt).


  19. Rick Pay says:

    E.M. …. regarding warm cold in the bed.
    1 – what worked for my folks was an electric blanket with seperate heat controls. I think the modern ones are even zonal with warm toes if you want.
    2 – what works for the spouse and I is a very high quality down comforter. The better the down quality the wider the temperature range of comfort IMHO. The ability of down to cover big temperature ranges has always impressed me. For extra cosy go for flannel comforter protecters in winter and linen protecters the rest of the time. For extra special warmth add a feather bed topper (with a down top layer to keep the pokey feathers away) but due to packing you have to fluff the bed topper every second night at a minimium and constant bed making gets old fast.
    Good luck and Merry Christmas.

  20. Andy says:

    I love your work Chiefio, and after reading this have started my regime of taking a tablespoon of vinegar each evening. I was 126kg two months ago and have reduced to 117 by eating sensibly and taking psyllium husk twice a day. on my way down to 87, dirt cheap from the horse-feed store. I hope the vinegar will help.
    Anyway, I wanted to tell people that beet tops are delicious. Just steam them lightly and enjoy as a ‘green’ vegetable. You can taste the iron. Absolute favourite in my household.
    Keep up the excellent work and a very merry Christmas from Down Under.

  21. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks! And glad you like the place. Per beet tops: Yup. Basically just smaller “Swiss Chard”. Chard is just a beet with extra large leaves and a poor root. (Odd Factoid: The Germans and French can’t agree on anything. One of them eats the chard leaf parts, but tosses the stems, the other eats the stems, but tosses the leaf area. Me? I eat them both; but cooked separately as they take different cooking times. IIRC, it’s the Germans who eat the stems and the French who only eat the thin tender leafy bits.).

    FWIW, having a grapefruit with liberal sugar on top every morning caused my weight to drop some. For some reason it kicks up the fat burning. Another factoid: To burn fat requires a sugar to be consumed (as that’s how the metabolic cycle runs, taking in one of each). If you have NO sugar, the body eventually resorts to converting protein and using it. If you have too much sugar (or starch) the body doesn’t need to burn fat and may store extra. So there is an ideal level of sugar / sweets intake and it is non-zero. For most effective ‘fuel burn’, having a nicely balanced meal with some sweet desert actually makes metabolic sense, as it enhances the ability to burn fats…

    The Meat Diets and similar (Atkins, IIRC) eventually force you into ‘benign dietary ketosis’ as you shift to turning protein into blood sugar (out of metabolic necessity) and only then can some of that feed into the fat burning stage. Due to it taking a while to use up all your stored glycogen et. al. it can take a week or two before weight loss gets started (and that’s why many such plans ship a ketone urine test strip… so you know when it has started working). So on that kind of diet, you only consume meat / proteins, and push to a metabolic ‘edge case’. (Personally, I found that harder than just eating a very well balanced diet in smaller amounts, but with added vegetables.)

    I also have found that a bowl of whole grains keeps me feeling full with very few calories. I put any of barley, oats, wheat, rye, rice into an automatic “rice cooker” and it works. Splash of milk and spoon of sugar for breakfast. (Sometimes a pat of butter too ;-) For dinner, it’s soysauce or whatever sauce / gravy is on the main course. Having the whole grain means the fiber is prone to ‘sticking to the ribs’ and you don’t get hungry for a long time. Oh, and Barley has fiber all the way through the grain, so is even slower to digest, has great blood sugar moderating, and one small bowl gets me to lunchtime without a worry… It’s also possible to mix the grains in home made “Kashi” mixes.

    Having a pile of vegetables, greens, and whole grains gives plenty of satisfaction for very low calories and with lots of nutritional advantages. Add a bit of “protein” on the side and a flavored sauce or two and it’s great.

    So “best of luck” with it!

    @Rick Pay:

    Thanks for the suggestions! As this is California, we haven’t got enough cold to really justify a fluffy comforter. It’s just 1 sheet and a moderately thin quilt. (That the spouse tends to dump off her side these days…) For me, just putting a blanket folded in half on my side pretty much takes care of things. Only real problem is that sometimes the spouse steals all the cover and I’m left poking out the side ;-) So even an electric blanket won’t fix that!

    (Instead, I’ve taken to wrapping my outside leg in the quilt / sheet layer – only one wrap – but it anchors the edge from ‘blanket hogging’ ;-)

    But if it gets worse, or if we start to get real winters here again like 40 years ago, I’ll keep the comforter in mind…

  22. PaulID says:

    for all your pickling and preserving and wine and beer and cheese making needs the one place I go is leeners.com they have wonderful stuff there.

  23. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Well I prepared and canned 12 pounds, 12 quarts of Spiced Pickled Beets;
    Very tasty! thanks to Judy F and EMSmith. pg

  24. E.M.Smith says:


    Nice, very nice. I think maybe I’ll have to plant more beets next year. I’ve been playing with various kale and collards lately (lots of leaves), and neglecting beets.

  25. DeNihilist says:

    Dr. Jarvis, the man who brought ACV back:

  26. Reading your post, my first thought was “What about the sugar in the pickled beets?” I am a type one diabetic, so must watch carbs. I also love pickled beets. What I usually do is just put a few on salads. The recipe my mother used was one of the sweeter ones. Perhaps I can cut back on the sugar using a different recipe.
    Interesting post!

  27. P.G. Sharrow says:

    @Reality check; I would get rid of all the sugar. Beets are sweet enough without it. I used half the sugar and more vinegar then many of the recipes called for and they were still plenty sweet. pg

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    @Reality Check:

    I second the motion from P.G. to just leave out the sugar. If it isn’t sweet enough, use stevia.


    Another sweetener, stevioside, is championed by natural-foods advocates in the United States and is used in several countries, most notably Japan. Stevioside comes from the leaves of the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni), a perennial shrub of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family native to Brazil and Paraguay. Stevia contains sweet-tasting glycosides, mainly stevioside; but also rebaudiosides A, B, C, D, and E; dulcoside A; and steviolbioside. Stevioside has a slight bitter aftertaste and provides 250 to 300 times the sweetness of sugar. It is stable to 200C (392F), but it is not fermentable and does not act in browning reactions.

    In the 1970s, the Japanese government approved the plant for use in food. Japanese food processors use stevioside in a wide range of foods: pickled vegetables, dried seafood, soy sauce and miso, beverages, candy, gums, baked goods and cereals, yogurt, ice cream, and as a tabletop sweetener. In salty applications, stevioside modifies the harshness of sodium chloride. Combining it with other natural and synthetic sweeteners improves taste and functionality.

    So looks stable to pickling processes. I have some on the shelf (bought for who knows what reason) and it does have a mostly sweet taste.

  29. Petrossa says:

    My wife uses that stuff Steviol in just about anything. Beware: You can’t heat it above 120 celsius it loses its taste. It has a slight aniseed flavor

  30. Jason Calley says:

    @ Reality Check “Reading your post, my first thought was “What about the sugar in the pickled beets?” I am a type one diabetic, so must watch carbs. ”

    Another possibility is the sugar xylitol. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xylitol
    I have been using it for the last year or so, one for one substitution for regular sugar. It has a glycemic index of 7 compared to regular sugar’s index of 100.

  31. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: From old it has been known that a healthy denture it is equal to a lower ingestion of sugar. BTW sugar (glucose when hydrolyzed) it is a strong reductant (proton giver)-the theory of anti-oxydants and longevity it is a lie as big as “global warming”-).
    Make the following exercise/test: Put a pot in front of you and then remember how many teaspoons full of sugar you use in your breakfast, then put it in it, then remember how many you put in your coffee -break cup,etc.,etc. …You will find that you are eating more than a pound of sugar per day!
    Not only this: Have you asked yourself if you are really hungry at “breakfast”?…if you are not then DO NOT EAT!

  32. I had not considered using artificial sweeteners (sugar alcohols, etc.) or natural, non-sugar ones (I have used Stevia in the past in beverages). That’s a possibility.
    Since I make the pickles one jar at a time from frozen beets (heat to boiling, add ingredients, let cool and refrigerate), I can add the sweetener after the batch cools a bit. I learned to add the sweetener after cooking when trying to figure out how to make cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries and artificial sweetener many years ago–cranberries can be very bitter!!

  33. Judy F. says:

    Just a word of caution to those of you who are considering reducing the amount of sugar in pickled beets. If you are making a small amount of beets and storing them in the fridge, you are probably okay using an “artificial” sweetener ( and for this purpose I am including stevia or Splenda etc). However, if you are going to can ( by processing in a water bath) a large amount of beets and then store them at room temperature, I would be very careful with sugar substitutions. Sugar and vinegar, as well as cleanliness and proper temperature, all work together in preserving foods. I am not sure that the sugar substitutes would work correctly in heat processed foods. I would check with your local Extension Office before you made that substitution.

  34. Judy–Good point. I make the pickled beets a jar at a time from frozen beets. I also grind hamburger when I need it, not when packaging my game meat. I like to leave open options!

    My mom canned, but I have never been into it, in part due to the need to be so careful about temperature, seals, etc. It’s great a lot of people do this though.

  35. Jason Calley says:

    Sorry, but I have to throw in a word here for all enthusiasts of natural fermentation (mostly lacto-bacilus) instead of vinegar. Kim-chee. The darn stuff is addictive. If you have not tried what is essentially the Korean version of sauerkraut it is a fun home project. Basically it is a fermented cabbage with a lot of ginger, garlic and hot pepper flakes added. I don’t want to eat up E.M.’s bandwidth with an embedded video, so here is a slightly altered web address for a good YouTube video. wwww.youtube.com/watch?v=0sX_wDCbeuU Just cut off the first “w”. I leave out the fish or squid in my recipe. Every few years I make Christmas Kimchee and give away three or four gallons.
    Oh! Make some extra of the pepper-ginger-garlic spice mixture to keep in the refrigerator.. It makes a great soup base for a quick Asian noodle soup.

  36. Carrie Garrett says:

    Great article! I have heard before how vinegar is good for so many things! I actually came across this when I was researching ” why do I feel all my pores open up on my face and feel on the verge if sweating every time I eat foods with vinegar in it”? Any thoughts?

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