It has been some time since I played under the table in my Nana’s kitchen while my mama and my aunts sliced and chopped and boiled for what seemed like an eternity to me then.
Canning was just a way of life and there were never enough hands for the time consuming job. So all of my memories of watching my relatives can were day long events while my sister, brother, a few cousins and I were shooed continually outside to play in the back yard.
They say you get out of something what you put into it; and if there were ever a perfect example of that it would be canning pickles. Bread and Butter pickles were my Daddy’s favorite and we drove home with more than a few jars tucked into the floor board. Of course there was also chow chow that mysterious concoction I was too afraid to try when I was young and such a picky eater. Watermelon rind pickles, dill pickles and pickled okra were also brought home in bulk depending on who had what left in their gardens.
I wish I could tell you I am very familiar with canning myself, but most of the women I can still see in that steamy kitchen have all gone on to heaven without actually making sure I mastered the art before they left. It was always the sterilization process of the jars that frightened me. What if I failed to do this properly and we all died of botulism from my sorry ineptitude!
Learning how to can and preserve is still on my todo list. And I keep telling myself when I return home for good I am going to make a good effort at doing just that. Now my excuse is not being able to find the right canning jars – still nothing more than a procrastinating excuse, but that’s what I tell myself.
In the mean time, this recipe for pickled beets will bring the taste of home canning right back into your home without any canning or jars needed. I have even made it super simple by succumbing to using canned sliced beets. But if you are really a purist, you can do the same thing by adding the extra hour or so to wash, boil or roast and then slice your own beets. They would probably be even better than mine. And of course that’s exactly what I’ll be doing too, just as soon as…..
….I can find the proper gloves for my hands so the juice doesn’t make a royal mess and dye my fingernails a beautiful magenta pink. I love that color of pink that beets make. I just prefer it on pink eggs and not under my fingernails.
Anyway, here is the recipe for Day 20. Make these one day ahead so they can chill in the refrigerator before serving.
- 2 (15 oz) cans of sliced beets - reserve ½ cup of the juice from the cans
- ½ cup reserved beet juice from the cans
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Set out a heat proof glass container to store the pickled beets. Make sure it will hold 4 to 5 cups.
- Drain off ½ cup of the beet juice from the cans and set aside.
- Place the drained beets into your glass storage container or bowl.
- In a medium sauce pan on the stove add the sliced onions, the ½ cup beet juice, the vinegar, sugar, spices and salt and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Boil for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce and soften the onions. Stir occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and carefully pour the hot onions and liquid with the spices over the drained beets.
- Let cool slightly before covering and placing into the refrigerator to chill.
- Chill one day before serving.