When I planted my tiny garden this spring, I knew I couldn’t grow everything. It’s a 4′ x 8′ box after all. So I had to make some tough choices. A few of my favorite vegetables, like squash, just did not make the cut. But from the beginning I knew I’d be planting beets, and I’d grow them for just one purpose – to make something Marvin and I both love… homemade pickled beets.
My beet crop was a success, and so this week I decided it was time to harvest… and to find the perfect pickled beet recipe. So I called my mom, who told me to call my Uncle Dave in Portland, because Dave makes the best Swedish Pickled Beets.
Well, my Uncle Dave and I don’t actually call each other, we text – mostly about food. So I sent him a text with my question, “I am harvesting beets this week and hear you have the BEST pickled beet recipe… would u share?”
Dave wrote back, “Sure! I would tribute this to my Swedish Grandma, JENNY,” and then he sent me the recipe, step-by-step. It sounded perfect… nice and easy!
My next text was to find out more about Grandma Jenny. “Was your Grandma Jenny born in Sweden?”
His response… “JENNY OTELIA HOGLUND ERIKKSON – born in Sweden near Kromsforth, a town up past Stockholm nearer the Laplanders. Jenny married Peer Oskar Erikkson and had one son Erick Helge Errickson. They emigrated to the US via Canada. My dad was 9 when they arrived in Portland.”
So, as it turns out, last night I made a 100+ year old recipe for Swedish Pickled Beets which was passed down to me from my Uncle Dave who learned it from his Grandma Jenny, who emigrated here from Sweden around 1925.
The recipe card was my iPhone.
I wonder what Jenny Otelia Hoglund Ericksson would think about texting?
Here is what I think about Grandma Jenny’s beets. They are a little sweet and a little sour, full of spice from cinnamon, cloves and allspice, and they taste much better than the pickled beets you buy in a can.
- FOR EACH POUND OF BEETS:
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
- 12 whole cloves
- 12 whole allspice
- Cut off the leaves from the beets, wash off any dirt, and place the beets in a large pot of cold water with salt. Cook the beets until they are knife tender, about 40 minutes.
- Place pot under running cold water and let rinse until the beets can be handled. The skins can now be easily peeled off. Peel the beets and cool them completely.
- In a separate pot, combine the vinegar, sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer.
- Cut the peeled beets into thick slices (if beets are very small, you can skip this step and can them whole). Place the prepared beets into the hot vinegar mixture and simmer for a few minutes more.
- Bottle the beets into clean, dry canning jars to within 1" of the top of each jar. Pour the hot vinegar into the jars to within ¼" of the rims. Wipe any drips away from the rim with a clean cloth, then top with sterilized lids and screw on the bands.
- 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 canning tongs. 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 simmer and process the jars for 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove the jars with canning tongs.
- Let the jars cool completely, then store in a cool place (or the refrigerator) for at least one week before opening.