Batch of beets, green leafy tops cut off
Are not so much used as they deserve to be; they are dressed in the same way as parsnips, only neither scraped or cut till after they are boiled; they will take from an hour and a half to three hours in boiling, according to their size; to be sent to the table with salt fish, boiled beef, &c. When young, small and juicy, it is a very good variety, an excellent garnish, and easily converted into a very cheap and pleasant pickle.
From The Virginia Housewife or, Methodical Cook by Mary Randolph, 1824
Comment: It is a shame Mrs. Randolph did not give here her recipe for the “pleasant pickle” she would use on preserved beets. Those who think they dislike the vegetable have simply never had properly pickled beets, or else perhaps they were forced to eat them hot as Mrs. Randolph suggests, which we must admit sounds disgusting.
Anyone adventurous enough to try this should remember to wear old or protective clothing during the process, as the water in which the beets are cooked, and then the beets themselves, produce one of the most brilliant, and most indelible, red dyes imaginable. No known cleaning product will remove a beet juice stain, so reconsider whether you want to serve them on a day when you will be using Grandma’s treasured pure white Irish linen tablecloth. Particularly if Grandma is going to be in attendance at the dinner.