Choose bright young tender red beets, as nearly the same size as possible.
If some are much larger than others, the larger ones may be cut in halves or quarters after cooking and peeling.
Cut off tops of beets to leave about 2 inches of stems.
Wash carefully through 2 or 3 waters to remove all soil from beets and stems; rub with hands, never with a brush which might break the skin and permit loss of color through "bleeding." The tap root should also be left unbroken.
Place beets in a large kettle, cover with cold water, cover kettle, and boil slowly until tender (35 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size and tenderness of the beets).
When done, drain and cool just enough so they can be handled; slip off skins and stems.
Return while still warm to the same kettle (cleaned), add vinegar and sugar.
If vinegar is stronger than 4% acidity, more sugar may be added to give preferred flavor.
Heat just to simmering.
The pickling syrup barely covering the beets should have a thick, oily appearance.
Pack the hot beets into hot sterilized jars, and pour the hot syrup over them, so it just covers the beets in each jar.