Friday, August 3, 2012

Sue’s Pickled Beets

My Grandmothers, both of them, made the best pickled beets.  The whole ritual of going down into the musty basement and over to the shelves of canned food, selecting just the right jar(s) for supper, cracking the seal once back up in the kitchen and spilling the contents into a waiting dish or pan. It brings back so many sweet memories of summer-time at their elbows, watching and learning.  Helping them prepare the fruits and vegetables for canning may take some effort and time to prepare, but the results are delicious.  Pickled Beets in particular are my favorite and a welcome tart-sweet counterpoint to any meal.  My recipe adds a little southern spice to their mid-west wholesomeness.  
25 lbs of medium Red Beet (one box), trim root tip and tops.
6 large Yellow Onion, sliced thin
6 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
3 cups Water
24 packets of Stevia (or other Sugar substitute) (or more to taste)
12 – 2 ½ “ Cinnamon Stick
12 medium Bay Leaf  (combine 2 small to equal 1 medium)
48 whole Cloves
6 teaspoon Orange Peel
12 Jalapeno Peppers, quarter lengthwise, remove seeds
12 Cayenne Peppers, whole (optional)
The Beets
Boil Red Beets like you would potatoes.  They are “done” when a fork pierces the flesh easily.  Dump in sink to cool.  Put on rubber or latex glove unless you want red skin. When the Beets are cool enough to handle, peel the Beets.  This is easily done.  When cooked and still a little warm, the skin of the beet will literally rub off.  Trim any rough spots left.  Dice or slice beets into large-ish pieces.  For ease in the next step, put all prepared beets in large container before assembly in next step.
The Juice
Mix Apple Cider Vinegar and Water into large pitcher.  You can do this in smaller batches if your pitcher wont hold the 9 cups.  Just mix in 2 parts Vinegar 1 part Water ratio.
Per quart Jar
See Note below about Canning
Add 2 packets of Stevia, 1 Cinnamon Stick, 1 Bay Leaf, 2 whole Cloves, ½ teaspoon Orange Peel, 1 quartered Jalapeno Pepper, 1 Cayenne Peppers.  Add ½ - ¾ cup Juice (Vinegar/Water) to the Jar and swish around until it’s mixed.  Imagine enough sliced Onion to equal ½ of the original Onion, this is the amount per Quart Jar.  Alternately add Beets and Onion, gently pressing and packing them into the jar until they reach the “bottom of the neck of the jar.”  Fill jar with Juice, to cover the beets.  Add the Juice SLOWLY, jiggling and shaking the jar to encourage any trapped air bubble to rise to the top.  Put on your lid and screw the ring on very tightly.
Process the Jars
Quart Jars should process in boiling water for 35 minutes. See Note below.  Remove and let cool completely.  Label jars with contents and date. 
Place Jar in refrigerator, chilling completely before serving. 
Abstinent Measuring
1 cup Beets = 1 vegetable
1.        This recipes aims at 12 quarts of pickled beets. 
If you want few quarts, prepare the quantity of beet desired, then follow the “per quart jar” directions for spices.  Process quart jar for 35 minutes.  If you want pint jars, half the “per quart jar” directions.  Process pints jars in boiling water for 30 minutes.
2.       Canning is becoming a lost art.  Please spend a few minutes on the internet and look up general canning advice, tools and processing times. 
a.        Generally you want very very clean jars and lids.  One trick is to run them thru the dish washer just before use. 
b.       You want the water boiling in the huge, multi gallon processing pan before you add the filled jars.  And then you don’t start the “processing time” until the water starts to boil again.  Processing time for pints is 30 minutes and for quarts is 35 minutes.  Don’t cut the time short. Remember that you are sterilizing and killing microbes and you are using heat to do it.  

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