How to Pickle & Can Beets
Updated: Aug 30
Beets are one of the first vegetables ready to harvest in the spring. Conveniently, they are extremely easy and fast to can, which makes them a perfect starter item for people who wish to start canning.
Depending on your taste preference, there are different ways to can beets: pickled or non-pickled. Today I will focus on pickled beets; they are easier to can since they can be canned in a water bath (non-pickled beets must be canned in a pressure canner since they are non-acidic and therefore require a higher temperature environment in order to can safely, which you can only achieve with pressure).
In this article:
Fresh picked beets (same day is preferred, however this can work with store bought in a pinch)
A water bath canner or large pot with a lid
A canning kit, like this one
A large slotted spoon
A pairing knife
Pint jars, new lids, and rings
How to prepare beets:
Gather beets. Scrub them clean under running water and chop off the stems leaving one to two inches of the stem in tact (this will reduce bleeding)
Place beets in a pot of boiling water and boil for 15-20 minutes.
Submerge beets in an ice bath after boiling.
Wearing gloves (I use clean kitchen gloves) gently rub the skin off of the beets. The skin should come off very easily, and the beets will be slippery. Place the beets into a clean bowl.
The recipe and instructions below are directly from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (p309).
How to make pickling brine:
I will provide a basic brine recipe. If you prefer a different flavour, I will provide some variations below.
This recipe will make six pint jars
3 tbsp pickling spice (such as Ball Mixed Pickling Spice or Bernardin Mixed Pickling Spice) - wrap spices in cheesecloth for easy disposal.
2.5 cups white vinegar
1 cup distilled water
1 cup granulated sugar
10 cups prepared beets (see above for preparation instructions)
Combine all ingredients, minus the beets, in a medium saucepan and simmer on medium-high for 15 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar. It will reduce some.
How to pickle and can beets:
Before starting, make sure jars, lids, and rings are washed, warm, and dent or knick-free. You can run them through the dishwasher and keep them warm in there or you can submerge clean jars in a bowl of hot water to warm them up. Never put hot liquid into cold jars, or cold jars into hot liquid!
Bring water bath canner to a boil.
Prepare brine (see above)
Slice beets into rings or cubes, leaving smaller beets whole.
Add beets to pickling liquid.
Place funnel on jar.
Using a slotted spoon, ladle hot beets into hot jars to within a 1/2 inch headspace.
Add pickling liquid to within 1/2 inch headspace.
Wipe rim clean using a paper towel dipped in vinegar.
Place lid on the jar, and screw on ring to fingertip-tight.
Repeat until all beets are gone.
Submerge jars in water bath canner using canning tongs. Jars should be covered by two inches of water.
Replace lid on canner, bring to a boil, and process for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove lid and wait 5 minutes. Remove jars and place on a clean towel on your counter using canning tongs.
When completely cooled, you may remove the rings.
If any of your jars did not seal properly, they will either have to be processed again, or placed in the refrigerator for immediate consumption.
Sweet pickled beets: Sub 10 whole cloves and 2 cinnamon sticks for the pickling spice.
Caraway beets: Sub 2 tbsp caraway seeds and 2 tsp whole black peppercorns for the pickling spice.
Pickled beets and onions: Add 3 cups sliced onions to the vinegar, water, sugar, and spice solution. Cook as directed above, discard spice bag and add 8 cups prepared beets.
If you run low on pickling liquid, just make more and add it to the jars.
If you do not have a water bath canner, use the deepest and largest pot that you have. Make sure it has a lid. The water should cover the jars by two inches.
Beet measurements/ buying guide:
This recipe uses 10 cups of beets (tops removed)
- There are about 2 cups of beets/pound. 10/2 = 5 pounds of beets
- 1 pound of beets = about 4 medium beets. 5x4= 20 medium beets.
If you have a scale to measure the beet weights (without tops), that would be preferred.
There is nothing like home-grown, fresh produce canned up and tucked away on your pantry shelf. These beets are like candy, and I wish you try them out!
Here's how I like to enjoy them:
Tortilla wrap (Preferable whole wheat or the keto wraps from xtreme wellness)
2-3 tbsp hummus
A handful of arugula
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4-1/3 cup pickled beets
Spread hummus on tortilla
Add feta, arugula, and beets on top and wrap.
See you next Monday!