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Boil the beetroot for 15 mins until the point of a sharp knife is easily inserted, then leave to cool. Drain, remove the stalks and peel the beetroot, then thickly slice and pack into a large sterilised Kilner jar (see tip below).
Tip the sugar, vinegar, 200ml cold water, the spices and bay leaves into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and bubble gently, stirring, for 2 mins until the sugar has dissolved.
Carefully pour the hot vinegar mixture over the beetroot (you might not need it all), including the spices and bay, then leave to cool, uncovered. Once cool, pour over the olive oil, seal the jar and keep in the fridge for up to a month.