This is the time of year that makes all the work, replanting, flicking slugs off tiny little shoots, throwing soda cans at bunnies, screaming at deer from the back deck, weeding and nurturing finally starts to pay off. The harvest has begun.
Sunday was a big day of work. The garden had not been properly weeded for three weeks. The potatoes needed to be dug. The beans were going crazy. The chard looked scrumptious. The tomatoes needed pruning. Some of the zucchini had grown to near epic proportions. But most of all, the beets had to be pulled and pickled. Thank goodness my mom and I co-garden or this would be impossible. I started on the potatoes while mom started on the beans.
Around 4pm we had all the veggies in the house and got the beets trimmed and in pots of boiling water.
Three summers ago mom and I perfected the sweet pickled beets recipe. The first couple of batches yield beets that were way too vinegary or bland, like what you find at the salad bar - blahh! Mixing recipes we found on cooks.com, we put together what (I think) is the best ever pickled beets. And I'm going to share it with you.
Mindy's Sweet Pickled Beets
24-30 2-inch round beets
3 c apple cider vinegar
5 c water
4 c packed brown sugar
4 c sugar
10 whole cloves
4 whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp salt
Trim the leaves off the beets, leaving 1-inch of the stems. Discard the leaves or save to use in a separate dish (use like Swiss chard). Put the beets in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until beets are just tender when poked with a fork. Remove to sink and rinse with cold water.
In large sauce pan, combine vinegar, water, both sugars and the salt. Tie the cloves, allspice and cinnamon stick in cheese cloth and place in the pot. Bring to boil, stirring frequently to prevent the sugar from burning, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard spices.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, rub off the peels. Cut off the top and end. Slice into 1/4-inch rounds, then cut each in half - you should have half-circles.
Sterilize 12 pint jars and lids in boiling water. Add very hot water to a large pot for processing. Working quickly with 6 of the jars - Pack each with beets leaving 1 inch head space. Pour hot vinegar sauce over, leaving 1 inch head space. Use a spatula to remove air bubbles. Wipe the jar rim with a damp cloth. Add lid and secure tightly. Place in large pot of hot water. It is important to keep everything as hot as possible. When all six jars are in the pot, bring to boil and boil for 20 minutes. Carefully remove jars to towel and let cool to room temp. Repeat with the remaining 6 pint jars.
Check to make sure the lids have sealed - the center should be popped down. If any have not, put those in the fridge and use within a couple of weeks. All that have sealed can be stored in a cool location for up to a year. Enjoy!!
Here is my favorite way to eat the sweet pickled beets, other than straight out of the jar with a fork. Make a sandwich on rye or pumpernickel bread with cream cheese, deli turkey, a layer of sweet pickled beets and a leaf of lettuce. It is so good!!