Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Beets

I'd like to introduce you to someone.
This is Ruth (center).

Ruth was born in Nebraska in 1899. As an 8-year old child, she moved to Idaho with her family in a wagon train to take up farming. A farmer's daughter, then a farmer's wife, she married my great-grandfather shortly after her first husband's death.

All told, my great-grandmother married three times, raised 4 daughters and a son, churned butter, made quilts, and kept a garden and who knows what else. She collected teddy bears and salt shakers, buried two husbands and one daughter, left situations that were intolerable, and made pickled beets for her family.

I was about 8 myself when I tasted her pickled beets. I don't remember what they tasted like, but to this day, 20 years after her death shortly before her 90th birthday, my family still talks about her beets.

So I'm trying to recreate her beets recipe.

It's been a few years since my last canning project, and that was jam and jelly. It's been probably 25 years since the last time I helped can fresh fruits or vegetables. I had expected to catch a good break in the middle of this process, to go and wash up, but failed miserably. Make sure you plan this when you've got several hours free, and hopefully some extra hands to help.

Big Grandma's Beets, Attempt #1

First, take 8-9 pounds of beets, wash and remove the leaves. Add to a stockpot and cover with water. Boil them for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Reserving the water the beets have cooked in, drain and cool them.

Prepare several pint-sized canning jars and lids. (We used 11.)

In the (now empty) stockpot, bring to a boil 3 cups of the reserved beet water, 3 cups of sugar, a heaping Tablespoon of sea salt, and 6 cups of white vinegar.

Peel and slice the beets. Fill each jar halfway, and add about a teaspoon of whole cloves. Finish filling the jars with sliced beets and pour the brine over the top, leaving about a half-inch of headspace before the rim of the jar.

Put the lids on the jars and place them into a hot water canner. Process for 30 minutes, remove from heat, and cool the jars. Wait for them to pop. Place them someplace cool for a minimum of 6-8 weeks before opening.

I'll let you know in 6-8 weeks how these turned out!


leah said...

I love the new look! I can't wait to hear how the beets turned out. Thanks for introducing me to Grandma Ruth :)

Ilke said...

Hi Poppy...Love the lavender field picture. Makes me want to drop everything and move there!
Beets not my favorite but getting used to them now. Will try the cold brew coffee though. I am curious.

Poppy said...

Thanks Ilke! I can't claim credit for the lavender field picture, it's a stock photo, but I agree, I'd love to move there myself. I'm intrigued by your recent leek recipe, and will have to give that a try! I've used leeks in soup, but not much else.

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