These simple beet pickles are the best kind of grandmother food. Slideshow: Beet Recipes
In a large saucepan of boiling water, cook the beets until barely tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the beets cool in the water for 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beets to a work surface and let cool. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Slice the beets into thin wedges.
In the saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar and onions with the reserved beet cooking liquid. Tie the cloves, allspice, cinnamon sticks and crushed red pepper in a cheesecloth bundle and add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then add the sliced beets. Remove from the heat and let the beets cool completely in the brine before serving.
The beets in their brine can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.