I have a love/hate relationship with canning. At least I did before this month's challenge. We canned a lot as I was growing up, and it would often fall right around my birthday. I hated spending hours trimming worm holes out of pears, even though I did love the resulting goodies. I didn't like any canned fruit except the goods put up by my family.
Now most kids love canned pears, peaches and applesauce. But my favorite was a little odd: pickled beets. My grandmothers recipe included spices, for a savory, sweet and sour treat that I ate in bulk with...brace yourself...macaroni and cheese. OK. Now that you have stopped laughing, you can put it on your list of things to try. Really, pickled beets and a nice cheddar-y mac and cheese go very well together.
The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
With a boatload of beets from the farm in the fridge and a hankering for mac and cheese, I knew exactly what to make...I already freeze roasted tomatoes and peppers for the winter, and we get fresh fruit all year, so
Turns out it was super easy, fast and fun. And now I can't wait to think about what else I might preserve in addition to the frozen roasted tomatoes and peppers we store up for the winter.
Adapted from Southern Cooking
- 3 1/2 pounds small fresh beets
- 3 medium onions, halved and sliced
- 20 whole cloves
- 4 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 4 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons salt
- Cut tops from beets, leaving a 1-inch stem. Roast beets until tender, peel and slice into 1/2 inch slices.
- Pack beets and sliced onion into hot jars; set aside.
- Place whole cloves on a 6-inch square of cheesecloth, and tie with cheesecloth string.
- Bring 3 cups of water, spice bag, cinnamon sticks, and remaining ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven. Remove and discard spice bag and cinnamon sticks. Pour hot mixture into jars, filling to within 1/2 inch from top. Remove air bubbles, and wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids; screw on bands.
- Process in boiling-water bath 10 minutes.