In the garden, the beets are beginning to look like they're ready to eat. If I have a large crop, I'll want to pickle some of them.
There are three steps required for good pickled beets, and all three take some time. First you need to make a good picking vinegar, then the beets need to be roasted, and finally you'll preserve the beets in the vinegar and wait at least a month.
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns
1½ teaspoons white peppercorns
2 mace blades
2 cinnamon sticks
5 cups white wine vinegar
Bring to a boil, then cool slightly and pour into a glass container. Store in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks. Strain.
Now that your vinegar is ready, roast the beets. I suggest wrapping them in foil and roasting them slowly to release as much sugar as possible. As soon as the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them. Then slice, dice, quarter, or leave baby beets whole.
Put the beets into one or more sterilized jars, leaving plenty of room for the vinegar to cover them. If you wish, put some of the whole spices from the vinegar recipe into the jars as well. For spicy beets, add chiles to taste. Chipotles work nicely if you want a smoky heat.
Bring the strained vinegar to a boil and carefully pour it into the jars to cover the beets. Seal the jars and store in a cool, dry place for at least a month, or up to two months for best flavor.
If you don't have time to make pickling vinegar, distribute the spices from the recipe evenly between the jars and add boiling vinegar. The flavors won't have as much time to develop, but the pickle will still be okay.