Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub beets well under cold water and pat dry. Place in a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish and cover with parchment paper. Bake until tender when pierced with a skewer, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Remove from oven, remove beets to another dish, and immediately cover with plastic wrap. Allow beets to steam for 15 to 20 minutes, to loosen skins.
Rub off skins with fingertips or paper towels. Slice into 1/4-inch thin rounds or crinkle-cut on a mandolin.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. In a piece of cheesecloth, bundle together the ginger, star anise, and peppercorns. Secure with a piece of kitchen twine, and add to vinegar mixture. Bring mixture to a boil, and add beets. Return to a boil. Remove from heat and discard sachet.
With a slotted spoon, transfer sliced beets to jars with tight-fitting lids. Carefully spoon or pour hot brine over beets, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace. Cover, and refrigerate for 1 week. Pickles can be refrigerated up to 6 weeks.
Beets: This pickling method works with any kind of beet (red, golden, or candy cane-striped beets). I like golden beets because they don’t stain surfaces and hands the way red beets do. If you are pickling different kinds of beets at the same time, roast them in separate pans and brine them separately. Otherwise, the juices from the red beets will bleed into the golden beets and change the color.
Ginger, anise, and peppercorns: We preferred the taste of 1 tablespoon each of ginger, anise, and peppercorns to flavor the beets. But, it's fine to substitute 3 tablespoons of store-bought pickling spice.
Yield: My homemade Pickled Beet recipe makes eight 1/2-cup servings. You'll use more like 1/4-cup as a sandwich condiment, but 1/2 cup chopped or sliced is stellar as part of a salad.
Storage: Store pickled beets in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. Canned beets can be stored for up to 1 year in a cool, dark place (see instructions in the next section).
Canning: To process the pickled beets for long-term storage:
Divide hot beets and pickling liquid among sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top. The beets should be fully submerged in liquid.
Stir the contents to release any air bubbles, wipe the rim of each jar clean, and add the lids and screw bands until finger-tight (do not completely tighten them or air cannot escape).
Process in boiling water (covered by at least 1 inch of water, and start the clock when the water is rapidly boiling) according to your elevation: 30 minutes for up to 1,000 feet, 35 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 feet, 40 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 feet, and 45 minutes for over 6,000 feet.
Cool on a wire rack for 24 hours (the lids should pop as they cool and seal). Store in cool, dark place for up to 1 year.