Beauty in a Bowl!
The Beet Goes On!
Friends don't let friends put up beets by themselves. There are a lot of reasons for this: it takes a long time to steam and peel these roots; they are very messy; but the real reason, is that pickling beets is a great excuse to spend an evening drinking wine and nibbling on good cheese and bread while talking, laughing, and catching up, and still getting things done.
The other night I met up with friends at the home of a fabulous grower who had harvest about 40 pounds of beets and invited me and another woman over to "put them up" She graciously pre-steamed them so all we had to do was make the brine and slip those gorgeous magenta beauties from their skin.
My friend checked in with her Aunt Judy to confirm the recipe -- one Judy has made for a good fifty years. It was easy, aromatic, and felt right to have Judy, a stalwart canner, with us in spirit that night.
By the end of the evening, we'd caught up with each other -- our work, our husbands, our kids. And I left with a 12-pack of quarts, ready to savor and share.
Get the beets on!
• 3 pounds small (2 inch diameter) whole beets
• 2 cups vinegar
• 1 cup water
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon whole allspice
• 6 whole cloves
• 3 inches stick cinnamon
• Canning equipment
. Wash beets. Cut off beet tops, leaving 1 inch of the stem: trim root ends. Do not peel. In a large saucepan, cook beets covered in boiling, lightly salted water for about 25 minutes or until tender; drain. Cool beets slightly' trim off roots and stems. Slip off and discard the skins. Quarter beets.
. For pickling liquid, in a medium stainless-steel, enamel or nonstick heavy saucepan, combine vinegar, the water, and sugar. Place allspice, cloves, and cinnamon in the center of a double -thick, 6 inch square of 100 percent cotton cheesecloth. Bring up corners, tie closed with clean kitchen string. Add spice bag to saucepan. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove and discard spice bag.
. Pack beets into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.
. Process filed jars in a boiling-water canner for 30 minutes. (Start timer when water returns to a full boil) Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.