I don't know if you've noticed, but I have 2 different pickled beet recipes in my sidebar. I think I had more recipes for them before I redid the site. You might say I'm pickled beet crazy. Actually, I'm pickle crazy, but there is something particularly appealing about pickled beets....they are sweet and earthy and a bit mysterious. Maybe because we didn't eat them growing up. In our family, we didn't really have any foods that were off-limits (we all pretty much liked everything!), but my dad didn't like beets. Or so he thought. I guess when you're the father of a family of 6, you get to make arbitrary decisions like "There shall be no beets."
Anyway, I was late to beets, as they say. But it was worth the wait. One of the premier beet moments I've had to date occurred a couple of summers ago when I was pregnant with Baby J. We were at my dear friend Holly's house and she (also pregnant) pulled out a big tub (that's how I remember it, anyway) or her Grandma Viola's Pickled Beets. Viola didn't make it, but she grew the beets and Holly used Viola's recipe. I sat over that tub and picked each and every last beet out with my fingers, greedily slurping up that sweet and sour purple-y brine.
Now, let me back up a bit. Viola is a very special person, and if these beets weren't so damned good, I would have to wonder if my own admiration for her is clouding my judgment. Viola is one of those "salt of the earth" people...those people you wish came along more often. She is sweet as pie and tough as nails (sorry for all of the lame cliches, she deserves better). She has worked hard all her life, raising children, as a successful real estate agent, and around the home. She also did things like become the first single woman in all of Pennsylvania to adopt a child. And after she was widowed and never thought she'd find true love or happiness again, she bumped into her high school sweetheart at the mall and ended up marrying him. She is an amazing gardener (thus, the beets) and she sends Holly and her family a few big boxes of treats in the mail throughout the year. Oh, yes, and she is one amazing cook. She is Slovakian and so she makes all that yummy Old World Eastern European Food.
So, I give you the Pickled Beets Recipe. I do hope you will try them and think of Viola.
Grammy Bachiak's Pickled Beets (Viola's Mother)
8 quart basket whole beets (I'm not sure how much that is, but I used four bunches)
Leave roots and stems on (cannot cut into beets as they bleed when cooking and lose their pretty red color and flavor). Wash very well as you are going to save the juice later. Put beets in cold water, only enough to cover beets and after water boils, cook for about 20 minutes. Allow to sit in hot water until cool enough to handle. Drain off the juice and save for later. Slice beets to uniform size and set aside.
4 c. beet juice, strained
1 c. sugar
1 c. vinegar (apple cider)
4 t. salt
Mix together and bring to boil. Put sliced beet pieces in this mixture and refrigerate.
I would try to wait at least a day for the flavors to develop, but I am not that patient.