Dear Heloise:

I've seen a pickled beets recipe in your column, but have never saved it. Now my family has found that they really like pickled beets, so I'd like to can some. Could you please repeat the recipe?

A Grateful Family,

via e-mail

Consider it done -- let the canning begin!

PICKLED BEETS

6 cups of cooked, sliced fresh beets OR 3 cans of sliced beets

24 whole cloves

1 cup of vinegar

1 cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

3 tablespoons of ketchup

3 tablespoons of cooking oil (optional)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Dash of salt

To prepare: Drain beets and reserve 11/2 cups of the liquid. Place the beets and reserved liquid in a saucepan along with all the other ingredients. Stir well and cook using a medium heat setting for about 3 minutes -- or until the liquid thickens. Remove from heat and let cool. And for those who don't plan to can these delicious pickled beets, store them in a glass container (doesn't stain) with a tightfitting lid in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

P.S. You can cut down on the number of cloves and also substitute artificial sweetener for half the sugar called for.

Dear Heloise:

When I was young, my mother had a method of degassing red beans in the soaking stage. I desperately wish I could remember how she did it. I do know it worked.

My family asks for red beans, but until I can find out how to degas these beans, there will be none in my kitchen. Can you please help?

Bev, via e-mail

Bev, I think I have the answer for you. Add just a pinch of ground ginger to a pot of cooking beans. You won't detect the taste, and it should help degas the beans. This can also be used when heating a can of beans.

Dear Readers:

My mother used to sprinkle instant potatoes into hot meat juice and then stir a few times until thickened. She had quick and lump-free gravy with a bit of nutrition added.

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