This past Saturday my niece and I ran up to the West Side Market in Cleveland. We try to go every few weeks... the produce is out of this world! If you live within an hour of this place it is WELL WORTH THE TRIP!
We arrived JUST as the vendors were unpacking and setting-up. There are some terrific bargains to be had for us early birds, and I'm not talking worms! One of our favorite stands had every kind of vegetable that I LOVE at such ridiculously low prices that I bought a TON of stuff, among them a bunch of beets. I LOVE, LOVE fresh beets, especially pickled, but I have NEVER made FRESH beets. That was my mother's domain. I would buy them and she would prepare them. I use canned beets when I make them. Ah well, for a dollar for the bunch, if I ruined them I couldn't feel too bad!
This morning I braved the beets... threw them in a pot of water and set them on the stove to cook while I went off and did laundry and talked on the phone. I occasionally checked on them as they simmered away filling the house with their beety smell.
About thirty minutes later, they seemed soft enough so I took them off the flame, drained the water (reserved some as an afterthought), took them out of the pot to cool, and made the pickling juice (hot water, sugar, vinegar...taste 'til just so). When the beets cooled enough to handle, I peeled and sliced them and a Vidalia onion, and placed them in a storage container. So far, everything looked just like what it looked like when my mother made pickled beets.
The final step was to pour the pickling juice over the beets and onions. I added a little of the reserved beet water (for a bit of color), mixed them up, covered the container, and placed them in the fridge to cool and set to flavor.
Alas, I could only wait 90 minutes. I have NEVER been good at being patient! Oh my, were they good! I was pretty proud of myself, and I think mom would be proud also!