ease into canning with pickled beets

pickling beetsWith growing season coming up, I thought I’d post one of my first canning projects from last year:  pickled beets.

It was late summer and as the farmers’ markets were winding down I bought a bunch of red and gold beets.  I had purchased the essential canning equipment and read the instructions; after referring to several websites I got to work.

Since it was my first attempt at the hot pack method, I selected one website and stuck to their step by step instructions.  I highly recommend following along with the folks at pickyourown.org; they’re very knowledgeable and generous with their time, making sure every step is detailed with photos.   Thanks to them my experience was enjoyable and successful.

This recipe will make about 8 pints of pickled beets:


  • 7 or 8 pounds beets, preferably similar in size
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 cloves, whole ~ about 1 teaspoon
  • 12 allspice nuts, whole ~ about 1 teaspoon
  • canning equipment ~ see here


  • Sanitize jars and lids ~ jars can go through the rinse/sanitize cycle of a dishwasher; keep them in there until ready to use so they stay warm; lids and rings should be heated but not boiled in a small pot of water on the stove
  • Fill the canning pot, with rack inside, with water and begin to heat over low flame, following manufacturer’s instructions
  • Trim the beet tops, leaving about an inch of stem to prevent color bleeding
  • Scrub beets under cool water, then place in a large pot and cover with water
  • Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 30 minutes or so
  • Drain and discard the liquid; put beets in an ice water bath to cool
  • Cut off the roots and stems; peel beets and quarter them or slice as desired
  • Make pickling solution ~ combine the vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a large pot; place the spices in a doubled up square of cheesecloth or a spice bag and add to pot
  • Bring to a boil, then add beets to pot; simmer for 5 minutes, then remove spice bag
  • Remove jars from the dishwasher; remove lids from the hot water pan; set on counter
  • Fill jars with the beets to within 1/2-inch of jar rim; pack snugly but don’t go over the 1/2-inch headspace
  • Carefully fill each jar with the pickling liquid, again making sure to leave 1/2-inch of headspace; be sure the beets are all submerged beneath the liquid
  • Wipe the mouth and top of each jar; top with lids and screw rings on snugly ~ not too tight, just snug
  • Using jar tongs, carefully place each jar into the rack of the canning pot; make sure tops of jars are covered by at least an inch of water ~ have extra boiling water on hand in case you need more
  • Process for 30 to 35 minutes, according to manufacturer’s instructions {processing time begins when water returns to a full boil}
  • When done, lift jars out with tongs and place on a tea towel to cool completely, preferably overnight before touching or moving
  • The next day test each seal with finger on center of lid ~ it should be dented inward and not move when pressed

canning pickled beets

Some people suggest wearing plastic gloves when peeling and slicing the beets, so that’s what I did.  I’m sure purple fingers wear off eventually but I didn’t want to chance it.

The process was a lot of fun.  It does take the better part of an afternoon, but having organic beets in the pantry without spending gourmet prices makes it worth while.


10 comments on “ease into canning with pickled beets

  1. never had gold beets-do they taste the same – I imagine they would not stain as much

  2. I so love pickled beets! They are a holiday tradition at our house………if we don’t have them it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’ve never canned golden beets though…..tell us how they are different than red ones.

  3. smokley says:

    Hi, since I enjoy your site and blog posts, I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award.

  4. A friend years ago used to make pickled beets every summer. Instead of throwing out the water she had cooked the beets in she would add some spice and suger and turn it into jelly. The jelly was wonderful, dark purple in color and tasted like spiced grape jelly.

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