Thursday, October 11, 2012

Preserving the Harvest: Pickled Beets

Not a lot of people love beets but then again, I am not like a lot of people.  I freakin' love beets! I think they are quite possibly my most favourite vegetable of all time. I know, crazy, right? Well, besides tasting delicious, I find them to be so versatile.  Beets are great raw, cooked, steamed, sauteed, roasted, any way really.  You can add flavours and they will pick it up beautifully when cooked.

So, on my mission to master the art of preserving, I of course had to include beets.  This week, I found a great recipe at for pickling and canning red beets.

Pickling Beets for canning

The original recipe was found on, however, I adjusted some of the measurements because I found the original ones weren't working for me.  I wanted to make sure I had enough liquid for the 10 pounds of beets I used.

10 pounds fresh small beets, stems removed
3 cups organic cane sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp pickling salt
4 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup whole cloves

Step 1: Wash and clean about 10 pounds of beets.  I used a scale to get an accurate measurement.

Step 2: Wash beets further, scrubbing well and removing any rough skins or roots.  The original recipe called for peeling the beets after they were cooked but I skipped that step and left the skins on.  Chop beets into quarters or chunks.

Step 3: Fill a pot with water and beets, bring to a boil and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or just until tender.

Step 4: Important: Drain the beets but reserve at least 3-4 cups of the beet water.

I used at least 3 cups (or more) of the beet water to make the pickling brine but it may depend on your preference and how many jars you want to fill.

Step 5: Fill each jar to the neck with the hot, cooked beets.  Toss in several whole cloves into each jar with the beets.

Once that is complete, move onto making the pickling juice ...

Step 6: In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, beet water, vinegar, and pickling salt.  Bring to a rapid boil then remove from heat and pour the hot brine over the beets in the jars, and seal lids.

Step 7: Get your pot ready for canning.  Fill a huge pot (not large, a huge pot) about halfway with water and bring to a boil.

Step 8: Fill your canning rack with your prepared and lightly sealed beet jars.  A canning rack makes the whole process so much easier, so you will definitely need one.  Now, some people don't cover the jars completely with water but in this case, I did.  I made sure there was about an inch of water over the top of each jar.

Sit the jars in the boiling pot for at least 10 minutes or so.  Remove from the rack and jars from the water and sit them upright in a place where they will not be disturbed for at least 24 hours.  You will start to hear the lids popping immediately and if they haven't yet they will do so as the jars cool down.

For me, 11 out of 12 jars popped, so it was a very successful first canning night!


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