Beets are on of the few things pickled you are not sure what you are going to get. It seems that bread and butter pickles, dill pickles and sweet pickles are all pretty universal in their flavor. There may be subtle nuances that each family adds to the recipe, but you can depend on that basic flavor. Beets on the other hand are pickled differently by every family and every company. You never know what pickled beets on a salad bar might taste like.
Pickles made from cucumbers are always call variety pickles, pick your variety. No one calls them pickles dill, no they are dill pickles. Sweet pickles, 14 day pickles, lime pickles, kool-aid pickles. I can’t think of a single cucumber based pickle that does not announce the variety before calling it a pickle.
Beets on the other hand can be called beet pickles or pickled beets. I wonder why that is? Does that freedom to refer to beets any way you want, also give folks who can the right to take huge creative liberties when canning beets?
I had not thought much about this until the Saturday when a friend gave me beet pickles. I looked at the bright purple beets swimming in their bath of sugar, vinegar and spices. We opened them tonight and had them with dinner, and found it full of whole cloves, beets, cinnamon and onions. It had a wonderfully complex flavor but a 180 degree change from my mom’s. Mom’s recipe is very simple sugar and vinegar, sort of sweet sour sort of thing no spices. It has a strong beet flavor. Though vastly different I sure enjoyed them.