I absolutely love pickled beets. Not the canned things that restaurants put out on the salad bar sometimes, but real pickles made from beets. This is the best recipe I've come across. If you make it, seal it up and hide it for at least a month. It tastes much better once it's aged.
Star anise is a little different than anise seed or anise flavoring. I found mine in the Hispanic section of the grocery store. They look like wooden star flower things. They are pretty and the flavor they add to the beets is really nice.
2-3 lbs fresh beets
1/2 c. water
1 1/4 c. vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
3 star anise
Wash beets. Trim tops and roots. Place in a large pot, cover with hot water, and simmer over med-low heat for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and rinse in cold water. The outer skin should peel off easily at this point. Peel the beets and discard peels.
Chop the beets into bite-size hunks. You should end up with about 5 c. of beet chunks. Place in the saucepan, add barely enough water to cover and simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes longer. Drain the beets.
Wash and dry 3 pint canning jars. Place a star anise in the bottom of each. Divide the beets between the three jars.
Mix water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to boiling, stirring to make certain the sugar dissolves completely.
Carefully pour over the beets, filling each jar and completely covering the beets. Leave a 1/2 inch or so of headspace at the top of the jar. Wipe the rims clean and place a new lid on each jar. Screw on the ring, then process according to your altitude. (At just about sea level here, it's only 12 minutes for pint pickles.)
Store in a cool, dark place for at least a month before opening.
Makes about 3 pints.