There were some crops in the garden we just expected to have and one of them was beets. Daddy planted Detroit red beets. We only used the roots for cooking and eating. During the summer, there was always a bowl of Momma's quick beets in the fridge. My sister pickled beets for winter storage and entered her beets in the county fair. She won many ribbons for her work.
When the beets were big enough to pull we would bring in a large bucket full. Momma's pan, she cooked them in held 6 quarts and she would cook as many as possible. In the spring when the first cabbage and beets were ready to be picked everyone looked forward to a pot of cabbage and potatoes seasoned with some ham and a delicious bowl of beets. Throw in a pan of spoon bread and that was a meal to talk about. When gardening, the first picking of anything is wonderful and you are so pleased to serve it to your family and my family knew how to make the cook feel good. They ate until their fill and even more. There would be no reason for dessert because I remember having a bowl of beets for dessert.
The process we used to clean the beets:
Momma would cut the top off the beet leaving about three inches of the stems. She taught us if you cut the stems too close the beet would bleed out and loose its color during the cooking process.
Wash, wash, wash but handle carefully because the beets bruise easily. Clean to remove all the grit from the small hair roots.
Put the beets in a pan add water to cover and cook until you can easily push a fork into the beet. When tender remove from the heat and drain. We would drain into a bucket and carry the water to the garden to water other crops. Any cooking water has nutrients from what you have cooked and it is a shame to waste the good water. This is a way to feed your plants. Save the water if you are going to make beet jelly. It will keep in the fridge.
Be sure to cool the beets until they are easy to handle. If cooked enough the skin and stems will slip off and cut the root off. Slice or cube the beets any way you wish. Place the beets in a glass container and store in the fridge. I usually make my syrup while the beets are cooking and have it ready to pour over my beets as soon as I slice them. Chill them in the fridge before serving.
Momma never made beet jelly and she never cooked the tops. Here at Triple Creek Farm we use every part of the beet. We cook the tops and have beet greens, the root is pickled and of course there are Momma's Quick Beets. I use pickled beets and I can them for the winter. The final thing I do is use my beet water to make jelly. I make 3 batches of jelly, one of each grape, cherry and strawberry.
The look on people faces when you tell them it is beet jelly is priceless. You hear, "I do not like beets,
No thank you, I do not eat beets" and the list goes on. In comes a child reaching for a jelly cracker and eats it, smiles and reaches for another. Get out of the way everyone is helping themselves to beet jelly.
It is a hit and now a staple in the pantry.
If you should come for tea expect some biscuits with beet jelly, I know you will be surprised.
Recipes for Momma's Quick Beets and Beet Jelly can be found at Happy Hollow Printable Recipes Click on printable recipes for the link.