A How To: Canning Pickled Red Beets





Introduction: A How To: Canning Pickled Red Beets

I love me some pickled beets. So sweet. They are such a pretty addition to a bland winter plate. And beets are loaded with nutrition, though the amount of sugar used might just counteract with that.

*Please note: I do not necessarily follow the tested methods of canning. But this way has always worked for me with no spoiling or food poisoning issues.

Step 1: Acquire a Large Bowl of Red Beets.

Any dark purple variety will do. These happen to be Cylindra. This is 7 1/2 pounds of beets (not including the weight of the leaves).

Step 2: Scrub the Beets.

Leave the tails and about a half inch of the stems attached. This is to keep all of the color and nutrients from bleeding out while they cook.

Step 3: Put the Beets in a Pot...

...and cover them completely with water.

Step 4: Place the Pot on the Stove.

Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the beets are soft when pierced with a knife, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Step 5: Drain the Beets.

Let them cool until you can handle them.

Step 6: Peel the Beets.

First, cut off the tops and tails and then the skins should just slide off. It's fun!

Step 7: Cut the Beets.

You can choose any size you like but I prefer a small bite-size chunk. The larger the chunks, the more jars you'll need as they won't be as space efficient. Put the chunks into a pot.

Step 8: Admire Your Pretty Purple Philanges.

Don't worry, after washing the dishes a few times, the stains will disappear.

Step 9: Heat Your Canning Jars.

I just simply put my clean jars in a 225 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 15 minutes. This sterilizes them and keeps them hot while you fill them one by one.

Step 10: Sterilize the Canning Lids.

I place them in a small pot, cover them with water, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and leave them in the water until you are ready to use them. When I'm open kettle canning like this, I try to use the lids while they are still very hot.

Step 11: Add Your Other Ingredients.

Put the pot of beet chunks on the stove and add 3 cups of apple cider vinegar and 4 cups of granulated sugar.

Step 12: Bring the Beets and Juice to a Simmer.

The level of the juice should be about even with the beets. If it doesn't come up high enough, mix up a bit more of the brine solution, maybe another cup of vinegar and 1 1/4 cups of sugar. Add this to the pot and check the level again. Keep the beets at a simmer while you fill the jars.

Step 13: Fill Your Jars One by One.

Remove a hot jar from the oven and fill it up with beets. Bring the beet and juice level to within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar, but not higher than that.

Step 14: Wipe Off the Top of the Jar.

Using a clean, damp cloth, wipe the top rim of the jar...where the lid meets the jar, not where the ring screws on. You don't want any food particles or dirt to get between the lid and the jar that would interfere with the seal.

Step 15: Add Your Lid and Ring.

Place a hot lid on top of the jar and screw on a ring, nice and tight. Not too tight but it should be snug.

Step 16: Let the Jars Cool.

Repeat steps 13, 14, and 15 until all the beets are jarred up. Let them sit on the counter to cool completely (over night is best). Remove the rings from the jars and if the jars seem sticky, wash them in warm, soapy water. Store the jars in a cool, dark, dry place for the longest shelf life. I've known beets to last at least two years. I've never had any around for longer than that so I don't know how long they will actually keep.

This recipe yields about 4 quarts of beets.

Visit my blog, Whole Eats and Whole Treats , where this recipe originated. Thanks so much for reading!

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23 Discussions

I was wondering since I don't have a pressure cooker can I do the Cold Bath method to make the Beets

Wow, this is my second year of using this method and it works perfectly. Everyone loves my pickled beets and it seems not many people are making home canned pickled beets nowadays. Thank you so much for this method!

Please be careful when canning. Although you clearly state you do not follow standard canning conventions, there is science behind it. Many people may be canning for the first time. Mainly the internal temperature of the product must reach 165 degrees to destroy any pathogen risk. Your simmering likely achieves this, however, the only sure way to know is to: measure the internal temp, or follow pressure, or water bath canning processes. In your process one must fill the jars with product that is at least 165, you cannot cold fill, this would not be canning and food would not be safe past ~10 days refrigerated. Beets are naturally low acid meaning they do not have self preserving characteristics like tomatoes. The scary truth is; if you do not can properly - botulism is the non-curable brain toxin that turns people into vegetables - absolutely no pun intended. Heat is the only known destroyer. P.S. Also inverting jars for 10 seconds after filling should sterilize the headspace.

Thanks I don't think they will last long enough to be an issue too!

hi I followed the recipe but my cans did not pop is that ok or what should I do? Thanks

1 reply

Hello! It is not detrimental if they didn't make an audible pinging noise. As log as they are sealed (the center of the lid is down), they should be fine!

I have diabetics in my family and that 4 cups of sugar seems excessive.. is the quantity of sugar an option for taste or fixed by some lab experiment... my dilemma is that I have 20 lbs of beets and now can't find a diabetic friendly recipe ;-(

1 reply

Schnee, it is definitely possible to tone the sugar down. You can alternatively do a savoury version (ie. dill seeds, pickling spice, that sort of thing--use your imagination) and cut out, or significantly drop, the sugar levels altogether. It probably helps preserve, but so does salt and vinegar. So it's not a necessary component. One or the other though.

Here's an example of a less sugar-ful recipe (from which you could remove, or as I'm going to, reduce to 1/4 C), by The Kitchen Magpie:

  • 4 - 5 lb small beets (40 - 48)
  • 2 tbsp pickling salt
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 2 tbsp mixed pickling spice, tied in cheesecloth bag
  • 1 cup water

Some ideas for spices, from Bernardin:

Spice mixture – choice of:

A. Traditional: 3 tbsp (45 ml) pickling spice

B. Sweet Blend: 2 cinnamon sticks, halved 10 whole cloves

C. Caraway Beets: 2 tbsp (25 ml) caraway seeds, 2 tsp (10 ml) black peppercorns

Hope this helps. If you have any dill or dill seed in your garden, beets and dill are like lovers. Happy pickling!

I canned pickled beets for the first time tonight. Your recipe is delicious (We sampled the leftovers) and you gave such clear instructions. Thank you very much! They will be a welcome addition to our Thanksgiving dinner! Ping, ping, ping...love that sound! Eight pints sitting pretty on my counter!

i love the step by step in this video! question would be... why dont you boil them in the jars after for seal? do you have to for seal? or how will i know my jars are sealed and not poisonous? great article looks great im just doing a ton of research because now im going to do my own for the first time!!!! ... thanks :)

1 reply

If the lid has a dip in the center, it is sealed. It will also ping nicely if you tap it with your fingernail. If the center is popped up, no seal. There will be a dull thud if you tap an unsealed lid.

If the open kettle canning scares you (I always have fine results but to each his own!) just pop the filled, lidded jars into a hot water bath for 5 minutes or so. Since the jars will be very hot due to the hot beets, you'll want the water in the canner to be almost boiling. Once you have the jars in the canner, bring everything to a boil and set the timer for 5 minutes. Remove jars from the water after the timer beeps.

Those finished pickled beets in the dutch oven look soooooo good my mouth is watering !!! My Mom used to can everything. I think that I will start with your recipe. You did a great job explaining everything. One question. Why do you remove the screw on ring though? Nice pictures too !!

3 replies

Also, if the canned product spoils with the ring on tightly the lid might not be able to pop.

Always confirm that the lid has maintained a vacuum when you open home-canned food.

It's not necessary to keep the ring on once the lid is sealed. I reuse my rings all through the canning season. If I had enough rings for all my jars, they'd fill several cardboard boxes but this way, I only need a few dozen.

OK just curious. I'm getting some jars at yard sales and will buy new lids. Thanks, Can't wait to have some of these.

Nice Instructible! I know what I'm doing with the mess of beets that are in my garden.

I've been doing pickled beets for years and the recipe I use is almost the same as yours. The only difference I do is I roast them instead of boiling them. One trick I have learned over the years, latex gloves help keep you from getting red hands. You did a great job with the article.

2 replies

Thanks Beatle!

I roasted beets for the first time last week and did NOT like them. I tried salt roasting them and may have over baked them a little. What's your method? I really want to get it right!

I've thought about using latex gloves but I can't stand working with gloves on. I'm afraid I'll have less control and then cut myself or something. I don't mind the pink hands. If anyone asks, I tell them I just work hard :)

I just wash them real good, lay them out on a cooking sheet and then put them in a 325 degree oven for about 3 hours. It depends on the size of the beets of course on how long it takes to cook them I just check every so often for doneness. Once I get very little resistance when checking them, I pull them out of the oven and let them cool down. I usually let them sit overnight before I start the pickeling process.