Monday, June 1, 2020

Mom's Pickled Beets

   Have you ever had pickled beets? It seems to me that people either love 'em or hate 'em. When I was a little boy, my Mom used to make them all the time and they were always a HUGE family favorite. Very often she would just buy cans of beets and then slice and pickle them. She'd do a big bowl, keep them chilled in the fridge, and then we'd have them as a side dish for whatever we were having for dinner that night. And the fun part was always that the beet juice on my plate would turn my mashed potatoes red. LOL
 Now, I don't use canned beets, only because using fresh beets just takes it a step further and makes them that much better. When I told my sisters that I was making them, everyone gave lots of MMMMM responses. Honestly, I could sit and eat a whole jar in one go! (My brother Denny said the same thing!) I think the one thing that made my Mom's recipe better than the others is that she used to add finely sliced onions. Not a lot, but just enough to add another dimension to the flavor. And they were SHAVED so thinly that they would practically disappear in the brine. I think that's the key, tbh. So here they are... basically my version of my Mom's pickled beets. They're sweet and sour and fabulous. I made jars and jars of them, but you can cut the recipe in half, and just keep them in the fridge, if you like. Honestly, one of my very favorite things in the entire world, and they'll always remind me of Mom. :)

10 lbs fresh beets
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/2 large Vidalia onion, finely shaved into thin slices
Salt and pepper to taste

First, wash the beets under running water to remove any dirt or grit. Place beets in a large pot, then fill with water. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Boil the beets until a fork can be easily inserted into each beet. Be patient, this could take quite a while, especially if the beets are quite large. Be sure to test EACH BEET. The smaller ones will be finished first, and the larger ones will take much longer. As you remove the beets from the pot, place them on a sheet tray to cool. Once they are cool enough for you to handle, peel and slice each one. The peels should slip off easily just by rubbing them with your fingers. You may want to wear food grade latex gloves just so your fingers don't turn red. When all the beets are peeled and sliced, add the remaining ingredients to a large pot. You can use just plain water, but I like to use some of the now red water that we just used to boil the beets. Bring the brine up to heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the beets and bring it up to a simmer. That's all there is to it.
If you plan to seal them in jars: use the water bath method, and process your pint jars for 30 minutes. When you remove them from the bath, let them sit undisturbed for at least 24 hours.

Serve them chilled with your roast beef or chicken dinner, or add them to salads.
Side note, the other thing my Mom used to do, instead of pickling them, was just to boil them like potatoes, and then serve them warm with lots of butter and salt and pepper. She once told me that this was how HER mom used to make them, and she called them Hot Buttered Beets. FABULOUS. 

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