Red beets aren't a vegetable the majority of folks set out to buy at the farmers market or store - especially not fresh. Maybe in a can, already cooked with no clean-up; but for the most part, you look at a bunch of beets and think what a mess -- what do you even do with them? It's true -- beets are probably one of the messiest dishes to cook, cut up, and even eating has ruby red juice spritzed all over. But the end result is not even near those canned things. The flavor, like all other homegrown produce, is sweet and luscious - not tasteless like in the can. They are super-easy to grow in the spring and fall but skip the summer, they hate the heat. Don't pass up that bunch of beauties the next time you see them. You can even toss the tops in your salad. Here's a Beet 101 lesson, courtesy the best cookbook on earth, Simply in Season, on cooking up a batch of beets along with a lovely recipe for picked beets that keeps in the frig for 6 weeks. What better way to enjoy with those free range eggs.
Cooking beets: Scrub 4 quarts beets. Leave on tails and 2-3 inches of tops. Place beets in tall pot. Add water to halfway up beets. Boil until fork tender - 1-2 hours. Drain and set aside beet juice. Run cold water over beets while sliding off skins with hand - the skins slide very easily, but guaranteed, your hands will be stained. Slice or dice beets as preferred.
3 cups white vinegar
2-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups beet juice
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine in a pot, add sliced or diced beets and bring to a boil. Boil 3-5 minutes. Cool. Beets may be kept covered and refrigerated for 4-6 weeks. Or place hot beets and liquid into hot canning jars and seal with sterilized lids and rings. Process either pints or quarts in boiling water bath for 30 minutes. Add hard boiled eggs to mixture as desired, but do not store eggs with beets -- the eggs will not keep as long as the beets. ENJOY!