Sweet and Sour (Harvard) Beets

Every Sunday meal that we ate at my grandma's house when I was a child had harvard beets on the menu. Since my mother never made them, my grandma "spoiled me" by making them every chance she could.

I think my other grandmother was jealous; she tried once to make them for me, but it just wasn't the same. I hope I didn't hurt her feelings.

This sweet and sour dish with a velvety sauce has been an important part of my holiday dinners ever since, even now that I'm probably the age my grandma was when she made it for me.

Yes, it includes sugar, and cornstarch which some people avoid due to GMO's. I've not tried to make substitutions, but you are welcome to give it a go if you wish.

To make sweet and sour beets, also called harvard beets, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch in a saucepan.

Drain the beets, whether you're using home-canned or commercially canned sliced beets. If you have fresh beets, slice them and cook first, then drain them from the cooking liquid. Save 1/4 cup of the liquid from the beets, this is important!

Add 1/4 cup mild vinegar and 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid or the liquid from the beets. If you use water your sauce will be a weird pink instead of this deep ruby red, so don't do that!

Whisk it together, and bring to a boil. (Don't add the beets yet.)

Let this mixture boil for five minutes.

Then add the cooked beets, either sliced or cubed, that you drained earlier. A pint of home-canned beets or 1 can of sliced beets works just as well.

(Just remember to save 1/4 cup of the liquid when you drain the beets, to add with the vinegar in an earlier step.)

Stir and let stand for half an hour or more. Just before serving, bring the pot to a boil again, and add 2 Tablespoons of butter. Stir when the butter is melted.

I know that some people don't like beets, but this is a delicious way to enjoy an easy-to-grow vegetable. It's the perfect combination of sweet and sour, with a velvety smooth sauce that's a delight to the eyes as well as to the tongue.

Should I confess that I finish up any sauce that's left in the bowl after dinner, even though the beets are gone? It's deliciously sweet and sour at the same time.

Here's the recipe:


1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup mild vinegar
1/4 cup beet juice (drained from the can of beets, or use the cooking liquid)
1 pint or can of sliced beets or about 12 small beets, cooked and sliced
2 Tbsp butter

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add vinegar and beet juice and whisk until well blended. Boil for five minutes, then add beets. Let stand 30 minutes, then bring to a boil again, and add butter just before serving.

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Sweet and sour beets - even your beet haters will love these!

Related Posts:
How to Make Homemade Vinegar


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