Today I had to wait until my hubby went to work before I cooked these beautiful beets. Alas, I am the only beet lover in my household. I just don't understand how anyone could resist those beautiful crimson orbs. It seems that there's no "middle of the road" for beets- either you love them or you hate them. But if you've only been exposed to the tired beets you find on restaurant salad bars, I can't say I blame you. Those look like the beets I grew up with, but bear no resemblance whatsoever in flavor.
My mom typically served (still does, for that matter) beets two ways. She'd either have them hot with a little bit of melted butter and sugar, or cold with vinegary spices. My favorite? Pickled beets. I like to make small batches of these and keep them in the refrigerator instead of processing them. Sometimes I include thinly sliced onions, and sometimes I don't. They're great with sandwiches or salads or just a cold snack right out of the refrigerator when you know you want something but just can't put your finger on it. And when the beets are gone, do yourself a favor and put some peeled hard-boiled eggs in the pickling liquid overnight for a pickled egg treat!
Spicy Pickled Beets ( I usually half this recipe unless I am canning the beets.)
recipe slightly adapted from the Ball Blue Book
4 pounds beets (1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter)
2 cup thinly sliced onions
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves
3 sticks cinnamon, broken
(Or you could use a couple of tablespoonfuls of pickling spice in place of the individual spices.)
- Wash and drain beets. Leave about 2 inches of the stems on the beets. Cover with water and cook until fork tender. (This takes quite a while, and depends on the size of your beets.)
- When beets are done, remove peel and trim off the ends. Leave whole if they're small, or slice. (I usually slice mine about 1/4 inch thick.) Set aside.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add beets and cook until hot throughout. Remove cinnamon sticks.
- If you are canning these, pack hot beets and onions into prepared hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Ladle hot pickling liquid over beets, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 30 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
- If you are not canning them, pack beets and onions into jars and cover with pickling liquid. Cover and refrigerate.
- Yield: about 4 pints