When we moved here from the north, we must have really been deprived of great tasting food. When I finally did go back in 1988 for my grandpa's funeral I really was hungry the whole time. The food was just not the stick to you ribs food I had gotten used to. My grandmother always mentioned the way my little brother and I pigged out on the beets that she had canned. We ate them by the jars. Today beets are really not my favorite thing. One thing possibly is that the ones in the grocery store are just not the same.
My great Aunt Mae made more homemade jars of beets than anyone in the Corum Hollow. They raised foster children that constantly complained about all the work she made them do. The big beet canning day was a day they complained the most. Peeling them was a huge chore. Aunt Mae put them in the biggest black kettle there was. The size of the kettle explains how many beets there were. Grandmother did not do that many, because she was saving with the sugar, at that time sugar was expensive. The recipe that my daddy's sister had was much like this one. She made them up until her death two years ago. They were really the best I have had since I was a child. Another thing that makes them so special to me is how pretty they are in the jars. To me canned vegetables are like home interior decorations. I love to display them.
Recipe Similar to Aunt Faye's
10 pounds fresh small beets, stems removed
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon pickling salt
1 quart white vinegar
1/4 cup whole cloves
Place beets in a large stockpot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes depending on the size of the beets. If beets are large, cut them into quarters. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the beet water, cool and peel.
Sterilize jars and lids by immersing in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Fill each jar with beets and add several whole cloves to each jar.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, beet water, vinegar, and pickling salt. Bring to a rapid boil. Pour the hot brine over the beets in the jars, and seal lids.
Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.