Beets are a Cinderella story of their very own. Like most root vegetables, beets are dirty and not what one might call beautiful, but with a little love and canning magic…BAM they are transformed to a stunning and delicious delicacy. Beets are best from June-October which gives you a large window of canning weekends. If you are harvesting your own beets, I’m impressed. Having a garden is a bucket list item which I have not yet been able to complete. You can typically purchase beets by the bushel from a local farmer’s market.
A bushel of beets weighs between 50-58 pounds. A bushel will yield roughly 36-40 pints of pickled beets. The recipe I am sharing with you is for 18 pints/25 pounds of beets, so if you are doing a full bushel double the recipe.
You will need: 25 pounds of beets, 18 pint jars, 10 cups apple cider vinegar, 4 cups water, 2 cups sugar, ½ cup pickling salt, 3 large onions, water bath canner, 1 T pickling spice, vinyl table cloth or old towel, rubber gloves.
Standard canning supplies including: clamp jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter, rubber or plastic spatula for eliminating air bubbles, dish cloth for wiping down rims, timer, paring knife, jar funnel, and white vinegar to add to water bath.
Cover your counter top with a vinyl tablecloth or towel to protect it from staining.
Step 1- Wash beets with a scrub brush. A nail brush from the dollar store works great.
Step 2- Trim the greens from the beets, leaving a small portion of the stems in tact. Do not trim the base of the beet before they are cooked. This is an important step, if you trim them too much before you boil them, you will lose a lot of the gorgeous coloring before you get to the canning step. You can save the leaves from the beet greens and utilize them in a salad, make them into collard greens, or add them to your juicer.
Step 3- Place beets into a large stock pot, cover with water and boil beets for 30-40 minutes or until cooked. Once they are tender, drain, rinse and peel. Beet skin should be easy to remove by using medium pressure with the side of your thumbs. If some are resistant, you can always use a vegetable peeler.
Step 4- Prepare jars according to the manufacturer directions. I like to place my clean jars into a 225° oven for 20 mins. After they have been in for 20 mins, reduce heat to 170° and keep them in the oven until you are ready to fill them.
Step 5- Cut the beets into wedges, or slices if that is how you prefer them. You will want to use a cutting board that won’t stain with beet juice. You can also chose to wear gloves, I figured beet juice would improve my un-manicured, un-painted fingernails.
Step 6- Cut onions into quarters. You will need about 3 large onions. I used Walla Walla sweet onions, however yellow or white onions will also do the trick.
Step 7- Make the brine. In a large stock pot add 10 cups apple cider vinegar, 4 cups of water, 4 cups of sugar, and ½ cup of pickling salt. Stir periodically over high heat until the brine begins to boil. Turn temperature down to medium low. You want the brine to be hot when you ladle it over the beets in the jars.
Step 8- Fill hot jars by placing 2 pieces of onion into each jar and pack beets tightly.
Step 9- Add 1/8 tsp of pickling spice into each jar. Pickling spice can be found with the canning supplies at almost any grocery store. It is a wonderful combination of several spices including: allspice, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mustard seeds and peppercorns. You can easily make your own pickling spice by adding or omitting spices to fit your taste.
Step 9- Pour hot brine over the top leaving 1 inch head space for each. Use a rubber scraper along the inside of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Wipe down rims, prep lids according to manufacturer directions. I think it’s easiest to boil the lids immediately prior to placing them on jars.
Step 10- Process in water bath canner. Because beets have very low acidity, it is recommended to pressure can them, however since we are pickling with vinegar, a water bath will do the trick. Place 9 pints into water bath, fill with water until the top of the lids are covered. Add 2 T of white vinegar to the water bath with each cycle. This will help to eliminate any film building up on the jars during the boil. Once the water in the canner comes to a boil, start the timer. You may need to turn the temperature on your burner down slightly, if the jars start to bounce around, to avoid any broken bottles.
Step 11- Wait patiently for about 6 weeks, then crack open a jar and enjoy. After all, you can’t beat a beet!
- 25 pounds of beets
- 18 pint jars
- 10 cups apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 large onions
- ½ cup pickling salt
- 1 T pickling spice
- Scrub beets
- Remove beet greens leaving a small stem so color doesn't boil out while cooking
- Boil beets for 30-40 minutes until tender
- Remove skins
- Trim beets into quarter wedges or slices
- Prep Jars for hot-fill method
- Make the brine. In a large stock pot add 10 cups apple cider vinegar, 4 cups of water, 4 cups of sugar, and ½ cup of pickling salt. Stir periodically over high heat until the brine begins to boil. Turn temperature down to medium low. You want the brine to be hot when you ladle it over the beets in the jars.
- Quarter onions.
- Stuff jars with 2 pieces of onion per pint, pack in beets, add 1/8 tsp pickling spice to each jar.
- Ladle hot brine into each stuffed jar leaving 1 inch headspace.
- Wipe rims of jars and place boiled lids on each.
- Process in sets of 9 according to chart listed in post, which varies by altitude.
- Let jars sit for 6 weeks.
- Open and enjoy.