Making sugar from beets is a natural and practical way to add some sweetness to life while also creating a nice morale boost. While the sugar won’t taste exactly like what we expect from the refined cane products we get from the store, it is a nice and healthier alternative. The process of turning a beet into sugar is not difficult, but it does take time. It can also require a lot of beets to produce a relatively small amount of the finished product, depending on their variety and quality.
The first step is to harvest and prepare the beets. Cut away the tops and bottoms about ½ inch from each end, and then thoroughly wash the beets. The next step is to cut the beets in to small pieces. Some people suggest cutting them into ¼ inch thick slices, but you will get more sugar out of the finished product if you cube them. You can also use a food processor to shred the beets or put them in a blender as well. This will reduce the amount of time that it takes to cook the beets, but it is not necessary because the end product will be the same.
Place the chopped or blended beets into a pot and add water until the beets are completely submerged. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few hours until the juice from the beets has been extracted into the water. Strain the liquid and press down on the beets to make sure you get as much juice out as possible. Return the liquid to the pot and continue simmering.
If you are not sure that you have cooked the beets long enough, add some water after you’ve strained out the juice and strain again. If the liquid is really red, then you should continue cooking the beets and juice longer. If the liquid starts to become clearer, then the beets are ready to be separated. Keep in mind, you want to get as much liquid as possible from the beets to make a decent amount of sugary syrup.
Stir occasionally as you simmer the liquid, and be patient as the water evaporates and separates from the juice for about an hour. Remove from heat and either skim or strain any remnants of the beet or other material once again. Place the liquid back on simmer and let it reduce until it becomes thick, but don’t forget to stir to prevent burning.
It’s up to you to decide how long to cook the mixture based on your preferences. It will continue to thicken until it reaches a very thick and tarry consistency if you cook it for a long time. However, when it cools, it will become very dense and require heating in the future. On the other hand, you can make it more watery and store it as a syrup as well. Keep in mind that the sweetness of the finished product relates to its thickness as well. A very watery syrup will not have as much flavor whereas a thick and colorful sludge will be incredibly sweet.
Experiment with different levels of consistency and potency and try some of the variations mentioned above. This is a great trick that may come in handy someday by adding some sweetness to a SHTF situation.