From Scratch: Dye some eggs with your beets


No one had ever told me I talked funny until I moved to New York City. I was teased constantly about how I pronounced certain words.

The teasing got so bad that I avoided all mention of a certain big, round, autumn fruit known in York County as a "punkin." I thought I had the problem solved until I mentioned to a friend my fondness for red beet eggs.

"Red beets?" she asked. "Why don't you just say beets?"

By this time I was not so reticent to defend myself. I explained that beets came in many colors and the ones I preferred for this dish just happened to be red.

Fresh red beets are plentiful in the market now. If you can get them with the greens still attached, even better. The tops are very tender so you just have to saute them with a little garlic and olive oil.

The taste is similar to Swiss chard, which is in the same family. Like most dark leafy greens, they are loaded with vitamins. My resident groundhog will testify to their tastiness.

Pickling: To pickle the beets, first wash them and trim off the funky parts on the top and bottom. Place them in a pot and cover with water and a teaspoon of salt.

Bring the water to a boil and cook covered until the beets can be pierced easily with a knife. The cooking time depends on the size of the red beets.

Remove the beets from the pot and reserve the cooking water.

Peel each beet by holding it under cold water and slipping off the skin. The skins should come off easily, but if any parts don't, you can use a vegetable peeler.

The pickling liquid is made in a 1-1-1 ratio of beet cooking water, sugar and vinegar. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of mixed pickling spice. If little seeds floating in the beets bother you, tie the spices in a piece of cheesecloth and remove them later.

For 2 pounds of beets, I use 1/2 cup each of water, sugar and vinegar and 2 teaspoons of mixed pickling spice. If you want to add a lot of eggs, make more pickling liquid.

Put the pickling mixture in the pot and bring to a simmer. Slice the peeled red beets and add them to the mixture. Let simmer for about five minutes.

When cool, chill the beets and add cooked and peeled hard-boiled eggs.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.