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Pickled beets are a longtime family favorite. My grandmother used to make pickled beets once a year and then reuse them to make pickled beets and hard-boiled eggs for my after-school snack. This mixture was later placed in a quart jar in the refrigerator, and I would sneak out a pink egg dyed by the beet juice at least once a day after school with the occasional beet root too. My grandmother followed an old-fashioned recipe which I’ll share with you now.
7 pounds of two-inch diameter beats
4 cups of vinegar at 5%
1 1/2 teaspoons of pickling salt
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
ball canning jars
lids and rings
boiling water canner or large pot
damp cloth and cleaning vinegar
Trim off the beet tops and leave one inch of stem and the roots to prevent the bleeding of color.
Wash your beetroot thoroughly and sort for size.
Cook beetroots in boiling water until tender and then drain water.
Cool the beets and trim the roots and stems off. Slip off the skins.
Slice into 1/4-inch slices.
Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, and fresh water in a pot.
Place the spices in a cheesecloth bag and add to the vinegar mixture in the pot.
Bring the mixture and spices in cheesecloth bag to a boil.
Add the beets to the mixture and simmer for five minutes.
Remove the cheesecloth bag of spices from the mixture.
Using Ball or Kerr canning jars and a funnel, fill the jars with beets while leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of every jar.
Add the hot vinegar solution to the jars with the funnel while allowing 1/2-inch headspace at the top of every jar.
Wipe the rim of every jar down with your damp cloth and cleaning vinegar to remove any juice which will hinder a good seal.
Place lids on and rings to finger tight.
Using a jar lifter place pints and quarts in a boiling water bath.
Process pints and quarts for 30 minutes in a hot boiling water bath at 1000 feet and below, for 35 minutes at 1001 feet to 3000 feet, for 40 minutes at 3001 feet to 6000 feet, and 45 minutes for anything above 6000 feet.
This recipe makes approximately 8 pints.
You can add small onions of 2 to 2 1/2 inches to this mixture if desired.
Another variation is pickled whole baby beets. Follow the directions above for beats that are 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, however, pack them whole and do not slice them. Small Pearl onions may be added to this variation for an additional taste.
After the pickled beets have been processed remove the rings and let them cool for 24 hours on a counter to room temperature.
Write the contents of the pints or quarts on the lid and the date that they were created.
Home pickled beets can be kept for 18 months in a cool dry pantry.
Do not store with rings attached as it may appear to create a false seal.
When canning always use jars that were previously sterilized either in your dishwasher or in boiling water bath.