As you might remember, a few weeks ago I used the last of my vacation time up and had a staycation. I was a lazy lump for the most part - sleeping in and wandering around the city hand in hand with my guy. One of those days, I spent at my cousin Marjory's making pickled beets. Every year I would make them and include a jar in the basket of goodies I would give to her family at Christmas. Last year, she asked me to make them with her, but somehow the Fall came and went and I missed making them. This year, it was a treat for me to spend the day with her making them in her newly renovated kitchen. It is bright and beautiful, unlike the cave I cook in. We had a nice day chatting and looking through cooking magazines. I am the youngest cousin in my generation, "the Canadian bum" as most came from Scotland and a few from Australia before coming to Canada with their parents. When they were dating, and getting married, I was still in grade school playing with Barbies. Growing up, I was enamoured with Marjory....her lovely red hair and beautiful accent. How brave I thought it was to pick up and move 3000 miles to a new country to start a life with her husband. All grown up now, we are friends.
I won't lie - pickling beets is a bit of a palaver. The trick is to make them with someone - many hands make light work and all that. A bottle of wine helps too. Just saying. That and your favourite take out for dinner because believe me you are not going to feel like cooking dinner. We had the husbands pick up our favourite Indian take out. A good plan indeed!
This recipe came to me from Nelson, a friend of my husband's. Each year, he and his wife make these together and many moons ago I was lucky enough to get my first jar. These are nothing like the vinegary store bought kind. These have a sweetness from the brown sugar that takes the edge off of the vinegar. Make these once and you will never settle for store bought again. Trust me. Marjory and I pickled about 30 pounds, giving us each 15 jars.
10 lbs beets
3 cups brown sugar
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water (in which beets were boiled)
4 tsp salt
Sterilize jars by placing clean jars into rack of canning pot full of water. Bring to a simmer. (Alternatively, some dishwashers have a sterilization setting) Place snap lids into pot of hot water. Keep both jars and lids warm until ready to fill.
Wash beets and cut off top and bottom. Place beets in large pot of water and bring to boil. Continue to gently boil until beets are tender when tested. Remove beets from pot and allow to cool slightly. Don't forget to reserve the cooking water. Once beets have cooled enough to handle, peel and slice. Prepare pickling mixture in large pot and add the cooked beets. Bring beet mixture to boil. Fill sterilized jars with beets and pour enough of the liquid to cover within one inch of rim. Wipe rim of jar to remove any food residue. Place lid on top and screw band on until finger tight. Don't over tighten. Place filled jars into canning pot and ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch of water. Place lid on canner and bring to full rolling boil. Once boiling, process for 30 minutes. After the processing time has passed, carefully remove jars and place on protected surface. ( I put them on an old tea towel) and allow to rest undisturbed for 24 hours. Do not retighten screw bands. Once cooled, check the jar seals. Correctly sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Label and store jars in cool dark place. Best consumed within one year. Yield 8 x 500ml jars