I was never much of a ‘pickled beets’ fan. What was the point? Dill cucumbers were way, way better. And then we had a sudden surplus of fresh beets. I had to do something with them, and it was too hot for borchst.
Turning to my library of cookbooks (why yes, I collect them, doesn’t everyone?) I found a promising lead in The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp & Margaret Howard (a book which I do recommend, by the way.) I tried it, and was so very pleased. Accordingly, here’s what I now do to put up beets for the winter: Makes 4 pints
- 2 lb fresh beets, tops removed (8 to 15 depending on their size)
- 2 c granulated sugar
- 2 c white vinegar
- 1/3 c water
- 16 whole cloves
- 8 whole allspice berries
- 2 cinnamon sticks, each about 4 inches long
- 2 tsp pickling salt
Wash and trim beets, leaving about 1 inch of the greens, and the tap root, attached. Put them in a large saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then cover and simmer 25-45 min, until the beets are tender. Drain and rinse them under cold water, then remove the skins and cut the beets into slices or large pieces.
While the beets are cooking, clean your jars, and heat/sterilize them, either in boiling water or your dishwasher. In another large saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Prepare your 4 pint jars: remove from hot water, drain, and then in each one place 4 whole cloves, 2 allspice berries, 1/2 cinnamon stick, and 1/2 tsp pickling salt. Then pack beet slices or pieces into the jars.
Pour hot brine over the beets, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, add lids and bands. Process in a boiling-water bath 30 minutes.
OPTIONAL: you can add 1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes to the jars with the spices, but I prefer them not-spicy.