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Foodways Traditions

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Terri Hunter

My Mammaw grew beets in her garden, but I don’t ever remember eating fresh beets at her house. But I do remember pickled beets frequently being on her table, especially if soup beans were being served. 

My mama fixed sugared beets, but they were from a can. She’d drain them, add butter and brown sugar, and heat them until they were glazed and delicious. She wasn’t the kind who allowed a child to play with food, but she did allow me to make pink mashed potatoes with the beet juice.

When I was old enough to be somewhat helpful, my mama would let me take the skins off the cooled beets that had been cooked in boiling water until they were done. I loved doing that! The rough skins would slip off, leaving the beautiful deep red beets that were as smooth and slick as glass.

I have no idea how to make and can pickled beets, but I do have a recipe that I almost guarantee is comparable in taste to those that took a lot of time and effort. My teaching team partner at Macon Middle School (before retiring), Margaret Woods, shared it with me a long time ago.

Buy two cans of beets; store brand is fine. I always get the chunks instead of the slices, but I don’t think it matters. Drain the liquid and put them in a quart jar. Add one cup of sugar and one cup of apple cider vinegar. The jar will be really, really full. Put the lid on tightly and shake until the sugar is dissolved in the vinegar. Now, put the jar in the refrigerator. When you think about it, for a day or two, shake the jar until there is no sugar to be seen.

That’s all there is to it. The beets will last for a long time and are almost as good as Mammaw’s.