How could you not? The combination of the sweet taste of beets, made even sweeter with honey, cinnamon and allspice, all preserved in vinegar? Opening a jar of this colorful treat in dreary February will have your heart sing with joy and your palette delight in the earthy flavor of summer and fall.
I have made this recipe every year for over a decade, and my kids have loved eating these pickled beets from a very early age.
Beets are an ancient, prehistoric food with lots and lots of health benefits. Filled with phytonutrients, they contain powerful anti-cancer properties, are high in immune-boosting vitamin C and B, fiber, potassium and manganese. Beets are famous for helping to detox the body and purify the blood and liver.
So you see? There is no excuse not to eat beets, especially these wonderful, sweet, pickled beauties.
How to make pickled honeyed beets
Recipe - yields 3 or 4 quarts canned beets1 gallon beets (about 6 to 9 pounds beets, depending on their size)
water to cover them
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
1 long stick cinnamon - and if you don't have that, just throw in 1/4 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1 quart vinegar - white or apple cider vinegar
1 cup honey
I always triple or quadruple the recipe above, since I grow lots of beets in my garden.
Collect beets from your garden, or buy them at a farmer's market or store. I always use organic produce for everything I make. I won't preach at you why organic is important. Chances are, if you read my blog, you know.
Since my beets come in all kinds of different sizes, I use small and large ones and just cut the large ones. More on that later.
When you harvest them, leave about 2 inches of stem on the beets. Please save the beet greens for later use! They are soooo good for you - sauteed, raw in salads, or in a green smoothie. If you can't stomach that idea, at least feed them to your chickens or pigs.
Leave the roots on, too. If you cut into the beets now, they'll start "bleeding" all over the water when you cook them, and you don't want that.
Since beets are root crops and grow under ground, they are pretty dirty when you first pull them out. So I hose them down first before bringing them all in to rinse in the sink. My septic system probably thanks me for not putting soil in the pipes.
Cook beets until they are tender
Don't cut the bigger beets at this point, otherwise they will leak and loose some nutrition into the water.
When are they tender? Oh, about 20 minutes to half an hour. You'll know when you can stick a fork into them easily. You don't want to overcook them and make them mushy.
Drain and then put into cold water
Slip off skins
Now is the time to cut bigger beets into smaller pieces if you want to have uniform pieces that all fit nicely into a mason jar.
Combine spices and vinegar - but not the honey yet!
Can in a boiling water bath
I found that placing the hot jars with the hot beets and syrup into the canner very, very gently keeps the jars from breaking. It's frustrating to go through all this work and break the jars, which will then leak beets and red liquid everywhere.
That's a sad thing, y'all!
Let the jars cool
Admire the gorgeous ruby red jars. Be proud of yourself. You did it!
I always like to wait to eat them until they've been sitting for a few weeks to let the flavors infuse, but hey, if you can't wait to eat them, go right ahead!