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Pickled Beets Recipe

| June 25, 2012 | 24 Comments

Pickled Beets
You’ll be totally amazed at how much better homemade Pickled Beets taste as opposed to those you buy in the grocery store.  Here’s another way we’re “Saving Summer In A Jar,” with our canned pickled beets recipe.  Give them a try and taste the difference yourself.

 
Pickled Beets Recipe

Pickled Beets Recipe:

I’m not going to tell you that I’m a big fan of Pickled Beets and that I can’t wait to make them every summer.  Well at least I haven’t been in the past.  That may all have changed now though.

Some time past, I purchased a jar of Pickled Beets from the grocery store.  I’d stumbled across some information on the Internet about how good they were and how good they were for your body.  So, I thought I’d give them a try.  Big mistake for me.  I placed the jar in the refrigerator to let them get cold and a few days later I gave them a try.  Ughh….I hated them.  I have no idea what brand I bought but, they had no appeal for me what so ever.  They tasted more like DIRT than anything else.  I was highly disappointed and knew that I’d never eat any more so, I ended up just tossing them in the trash that very day.  Lesson learned.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I visited the roadside produce stand of my friends Flora and Bill.  They had just pulled some fresh beets and had them out for sale.  Through our conversation, I ended up telling them about my past adventure with Pickled Beets.  That’s when Flora, stepped inside her house and came back with a sample of some of HER pickled beets.  They were delicious.

So, from there, I told her I had to have the recipe.  She agreed and I told them that I’d come back the following week to get some beets because I wanted to make some of my own.

I cut Floras recipe in half because it made a few more jars than I thought I needed.  I ended up with 6 pints but, could have easily had 7 and you’ll read about that further down.  I must admit, they were a little more trying than I had anticipated.  I had problems with the skins of the beets not “slipping off” as expected.  Even though I had cooked them for the suggested amount of time, I may have let them cool longer than they should have.  I pretty much ended up having to peel the skins away which added a bit of more time and energy to the process.

Also, please consider that beets will STAIN your surfaces very quickly.  Be very careful of anything they may come into contact with.  I’d suggest using plastic cutting boards and that you wear gloves any time you’re working with them.  Use paper towels to clean up with as opposed to your kitchen towels…..unless you want to change their color to pink.

Let me know if you give them a try.  I’d love to hear how yours turn out.  Mine are sitting for a few weeks to achieve a better pickled flavor and I haven’t actually tried them yet.  You can leave us a comment in the section at the bottom of this post and you’ll also find a printable recipe at the bottom.  So…if you’re ready…..Let’s Get Cooking!

 

Pickled Beets, ingredients.
Pickled Beets Recipe:  You’ll need these ingredients.

 

Pickled Beets, trim the tops.
We’ll begin by trimming off the tops of the beets.  Cut the leaves off, leaving about 2 inches of the stems and all of the roots intact.  We do this to prevent the beets color from draining and bleeding while we process the beets.  I was fortunate because the farm I bought the beets from cut the leaves away for me.  It was a step I didn’t have to do myself.

 

Pickled Beets, wash the beets.
Place the beets in your sink and cover them with cool water.

 

Pickled Beets, scrub gently with your fingers.
Do NOT use a brush to clean the beets.

Just scrub each one gently with your fingers to remove any dirt.  The beets are a root vegetable….meaning the beets themselves grow beneath the ground.  Just rub them gently to remove any clumps of dirt and dust.  We’re going to eventually cut off the tops and the roots…plus….we’ll slip the skins off completely in the next few steps.

 

Pickled Beets, rinse and drain.
Drain off the dirty water, rinse them again under cool running water and place in a colander to drain.

 

Pickled Beets, saucepot with water.
Place a large sauce pot on the stove and fill it about half full with water.  Bring it to a low boil.

 

Pickled Beets, sort by size if needed.
If you have various sizes of beets, you’ll need to sort them out by size as best as possible.  The smaller ones will cook much quicker than the larger ones of course and, you don’t want the baby one’s to overcook.

 

Pickled Beets, add beets to the boiling water.
Here’s pretty much where my plan for cooking the beets went wrong.  After adding the larger beets, I quickly realized that THIS pot wasn’t going to be big enough.

I should have just poured the water into my canning pot and proceeded with the plan but…..that would have been too easy.  I would have needed to add more water and let it get up to boiling before proceeding.  It was a good idea but going ahead and adding them to the pot that was ALREADY boiling seemed even better.   Well…at least at THAT moment.

I had planned to start the larger beets cooking, then as time passed, I’d add the medium sized and when down to about 10-15 minutes, I would add the smaller ones.  I figured that way, I could cook them all at the same time and then not overcook the really smaller beets.  Only, it didn’t turn out that way.  I had to cook the larger ones, remove them, then cook the medium, remove them, then cook the smaller one’s.  Oh well….it was a good thought at least.  It was also probably the reason the skins didn’t slip off as anticipated.  We must learn from our mistakes…right?

 

Pickled Beets, remove from water.
When they have finished cooking as suggested, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon.  I placed mine back in the colander.

 

Pickled Beets, discard the water.
Be sure to DISCARD THE WATER you’ve been cooking the beets in.

 

Pickled Beets, let the beets cool.
Let the beets cool for a little bit.  I placed them in my colander which was just sitting in the top of my canning pot.

 

Pickled Beets, place beets back in sink.
Then, I just placed them all back in the sink.

 

Pickled Beets, remove the stems, roots and skins.
Use a paring knife and cut off the top stems, the roots and, then peel away the skins.  Yeah right….not so fast on that peel away the skins part.

 

Pickled Beets, prepare the onions.
Prepare the onions next.  I had decided to go with red onions in mine.  I figured the color would just blend right in.  I also had a large white onion….just in case I needed it.

 

Pickled Beets, slice the onions.
Looking at this picture brings tears to my eyes…how about you?

These onions had just come out of the garden and they really gave me a bit of a hard time as I sliced them up.  I didn’t want to use full onion rings in my jars so I decided to cut the onion in half then, into quarters.  After that, I cut the quarters into the slices you see here.  I wanted to use smaller pieces in each jar.  Try to keep the slices to about 1/4 inch in width.

 

Pickled Beets, separate the rings.
Since you’re probably crying already….go ahead and take the extra time to fully separate the slices.  It will just make it easier to add them to the jars once we start filling the jars for the canner.

 

Pickled Beets, prepare the spices.
Then, go ahead and prepare the Cinnamon Sticks and Cloves.  I used 2 of the Whole Cinnamon Sticks and about 12 Whole Cloves.  You’ll want to break up the Cinnamon Sticks.  They’re pretty hard so be careful as you try to break them.  Place the spices on a layer of Cheesecloth.

 

Pickled Beets, tie the spice bag.
Bunch up the side pieces of the Cheesecloth and tie up the top.  This spice bag will be dropped into the vinegar solution we’re about to prepare and then later removed so we don’t have spices floating around in the jars.

 

Pickled Beets, setup the stove for canning.
Here, I’ve setup the stove for the canning process.

This has become my standard way of doing things.  The large canning pot is on the front right burner.  On the left front is the pot that I normally use to cook up the item being canned.  Back left is the pot I use to place my lids and bands in on low heat.  The larger pot on the right rear contains water that I heat up and keep ready to add to the canning pot as needed during the canning process.  This setup has worked pretty good for me over the years so why change?

 

Pickled Beets, add vinegar.
Add the vinegar to the pot.  You must be sure you’re using a vinegar with 5% acidity.  It will tell you right on the bottle.  This is recommended for any type of pickling you will do.  I’m using the White Vinegar as opposed to Apple Cider Vinegar.

 

Pickled Beets, add water.
Now, add the water.  I know it looks just like the picture above but, this really is water I’m pouring into the pot.

 

Pickled Beets, add the sugar.
Add the two cups of sugar.

 

Pickled Beets, add the pickling salt.
Add the “Pickling Salt” to the pot.  This is not your ordinary table salt.  You can typically find Pickling Salt with the canning supplies of your favorite store…or…in the spice section of your favorite grocer.

 

Pickled Beets, wash the jars.
While the vinegar mixture is heating up, go ahead and fill your sink with some hot soapy water to wash your jars.  Even new jars should be washed with detergent.  It’s a good time to closely check the jars…especially the top rims….to make sure they aren’t chipped or cracked.  I thought I was doing a pretty good job of doing that but, just as soon as I started to fill my jars, I found one that was chipped on the lip.  Be sure to check the jars carefully.

 

Pickled Beets, sterilize the jars.
After you’ve washed and rinsed the jars….place them in your canning pot and bring the water to a boil.  The jars need to boil for 15 minutes.

NOTE:  It’s also acceptable to use your dishwasher to clean and sterilize the jars.  The newer dishwashers have a cycle just for such purposes.

 

Pickled Beets, heat the lids and bands.
You will ALWAYS use NEW LIDS when canning.  Bands may be re-used but, never try to can new products by using old lids.  Be sure to wash the bands and check them to make sure they aren’t bent.

Place the lids and the bands in a small pot of warm water.  I run hot tap water into my pot and then place it over the lowest heat setting on my stove.  You just need to warm them slightly to soften up the rubber around the underside edge of the lids to ensure a proper seal.  DO NOT boil the lids at any time.  Just let them continue to warm up while everything else is coming up to speed.

 

Pickled Beets, sugar dissolved.
Keep a watch on the vinegar, water and sugar mixture.  Stir it frequently until the sugar has fully dissolved.

 

Pickled Beets, add the spice bag.
Once the sugar is fully dissolved…..drop in the tied bag of spices.

 

Pickled Beets, prep your jar filling station.
Things are about to get a little busy now.  It’s one of the fun parts of the process of canning as things start to all come together.

It can be a bit daunting the first couple of times around but, the more you do it, the easier it gets.  It’s always good to setup areas ahead of time so you know you have everything handy and at the ready as you will need them.  I’ve got the long towel at the back to set my hot jars on as they come out of the canner.  The hot pad is for my pot of beets once I remove them from the stove.  I’ve found that cleanup goes much easier if I sit my jars in a plate to fill them.  And, having the jar lifter and other tools ready just makes you that much more efficent.  It’s kind of like setting up an “operating room” I think.  I just needed someone to wipe the sweat from my brow at this point.  Ha!

 

Pickled Beets, add beets to the vinegar mixture.
Now it’s time to get cooking.  Grab some type of rubber glove and start placing the beets in the pot.  The vinegar and sugar mixture should have just started to reach the low boil point by now.

 

Pickled Beets, add the onions.
Add the sliced onions right on top of the beets.  Then, gently start to stir the onions and beets together.  You’ll probably need to increase the heat at this point as we want to bring the whole pot back up to a low boil.  Once they begin to boil, keep stirring gently and let them boil for 5 minutes.

 

Pickled Beets, remove the pot from the stove.
After 5 minutes, remove the beets from the stove and sit them next to your jars.

 

Pickled Beets, spon the beets into the jar.
I used a large slotted spoon to place the beets and onions into the jars.  The funnel really comes in handy at this point.  Fill the jar up to 1/2 inch of the top with the beets and onions.

 

Pickled Beets, lightly pack the jars.
Here, I’m using the back of a spoon to lightly pack down the beets and onions.  I even picked up the jar and shook them down a bit.  You wouldn’t do that with jams or jellies but, it will help in this case to get the beets to settle more evenly in the jars.

 

Pickled Beets, check for proper headspace.
When the jar is properly packed with the beets and the onions…use a ladle to add the vinegar mixutre.  Pour it in slowly and fill the jar up to 1/2 inch of the top.

Always check the jar for proper headspace.  The recipe says we need 1/2 inch of headspace in our pickled beets.  Headspace is the amount of space between the top of the beets and liquid and, the top of the jar itself.  Recipes vary on the proper amount of headspace needed so, be sure to follow the directions carefully for whatever you might be canning.

 

Pickled Beets, remove any air bubbles.
I’ve mentioned in some of my other canning recipes about using these wooden skewers.  I find them to be a perfect little tool to run around the inside edges of the jar to help remove any air bubbles.  Gently rotate the jars and look for the bubbles and just push the skewer into the bubble….it will usually just follow the skewer up to the top and burst.  Get out as many of the air bubbles as you can see.

 

Pickled Beets, carefully wipe off the rim.
Use a clean damp cloth and carefully wipe off the top rim of the jar and around the edges where the band will go.  You need to be sure to remove any food particles that might be on the very top of the rim and any juices around the top and outside.  We want this area perfectly clean in order for the lids to seat properly and create a proper seal.

 

Pickled Beets, apply the lid.
Use your magnetic wand and remove a lid from the warm water.  Just shake off the lid and carefully center it on to the top of the jar.  Try not to touch the red rubber ring on the underside of the lid.

 

Pickled Beets, apply the band.
Using the magnetic wand again….remove a band from the warm water and center it over the lid.  Make sure it’s going on straight and don’t force it.  Screw the band down and just slightly tighten it.  Don’t use any force at this point…you just need to get it “finger tight.”

 

Pickled Beets, add the jars to the canner.
Once all the jars are filled and have their lids properly tightened….place them in the rack inside your canner.  The rack has handles that clip onto the outer top rim of the pot itself.  Hook the handles over the edge while you add the jars.  The jars are in the water at this point and you want to make sure they are sitting straight up.

As it turned out, I ended up with just enough beets to fill six jars.  I had already removed the one jar that I discovered had a chip on it.  It would have gone in the center area above but….didn’t need it any way.  Of course, I did pack my jars fairly tight with the beets and onions.  I plan to enter a jar into our local fairs so I pack them a little on the tight side.  And yes, I had a bit too much water in the canner.  Once I lowered the rack of jars, I scooped out a little of the water so it wouldn’t all boil over.

 

Pickled Beets, submerge the jars.
Use some oven mitts and lift the handles and rack up and off the top lip of the canner.  Gently lower the rack into the boiling water.  You’ll need about 2 inches of water over the top of the jars throughout the rest of the time they are going through this water bath process.

 

Pickled Beets, cover.
When the water has come back up to a boil, cover the canner with it’s lid.

You’ll need to check the recipe below for the proper length of time to process the beets in your area.  It will vary based on the ALTITUDE of where you live.  For me, I had to let them stay under water for 30 minutes.  You’ll need to check them a couple of times to be sure they stay fully submerged at all times.  The water can boil away pretty quickly.  This is why I keep that extra pot of hot water on the burner right behind the canning pot.  As I need it, I can just add hot water to the pot.  It just always seem to come in handy to keep that extra pot of hot water going.  Try it…you can thank me later.  (Smile)

 

Pickled Beets, raise the jars out of the water.
After they have gone through the proper amount of time for the water bath, remove the canner lid and set it aside.  Then, use whatever you find handy to grab the handles and raise the rack back up out of the water.  Slip the handles back onto the top lip of the canning pot.  Grabbing the handles out of the water can be a bit tricky so be careful and don’t burn yourself….that water is still HOT.  Take my word for it.  Just saying!!!

Just let the jars rest here for about 5 minutes.  Then, use the jar lifter and carefully remove each one and sit it on a towel placed on your countertop.  This should be an area free of any drafts….especially out of a direct path with any air conditioning vents.

 

Pickled Beets, let sit overnight.
The jars need to sit in this spot for 24 hours without being moved or disturbed.

DO NOT PRESS the center parts of the lids on the jars at this point.  You should start to hear that sweet little “Ping” noise as the lids start to seal.  To me…that’s the best part of the entire process.  You’ve worked hard getting them to this point and that little ping as the air gets sucked out of the jar is a great reward in my book.  As the air is pulled out, the center of the lid gets pulled down and it makes that “ping.”  I love it!!!

After 24 hours, you will want to look closely at the tops to see if you can tell if they are properly sealed or not.  It’s OK at this point to press down on the lids.  If pressing on the lid doesn’t make any noise….you’re good.  But, if the center of the lid springs back up when pressed, for some reason, the jar did not seal.  It might have had some small food particle under the lid or something else that kept it from sealing correctly.

The beets would be OK to eat but, you need to go ahead and refrigerate them at this point to keep them safe.  Sealed jars can be stored in a draft free, cool and dark location for up to one year or longer.

The beets will also need a couple of weeks to properly “pickle” and get a good taste.  They will just get better over time so….try to be patient.  You’ve done good so I know you’ll want to enjoy some soon.  Congratulations…you’ve made your very own homemade “Pickled Beets.”

Enjoy!!!


Pickled Beets Recipe

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 6 - 8 Pints

Pickled Beets Recipe

Once you make your own homemade Pickled Beets, you'll never want store bought again. We're "Saving Summer In A Jar" once again with our delicious recipe for making and canning Pickled Beets.

Ingredients

  • 7 pounds of Beets
  • 5 medium Onions
  • 4 cups White Vinegar, 5% acidity
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 teaspoons of Canning or Pickling Salt
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks, broken
  • 12 Whole Cloves

Instructions

  1. Trim off tops of beets, leaving 2 inches of stems and all roots. This will prevent the beets color from bleeding while processing.
  2. Wash well, rinse and drain.
  3. Sort for size, separating larger beets from the smaller ones.
  4. Fill a large saucepot about ½ full of water, bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the larger beets first, let cook for approximately 15 minutes.
  6. Add the medium sized beets, let cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the small beets, let cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Drain the beets and DISCARD THE LIQUID.
  9. Let beets cool, cut off the roots and stems, slip off the skins.
  10. Slice beets into about ¼ inch slices.
  11. Peel and slice the onions into about ¼ inch slices.
  12. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and fresh water.
  13. Tie spices in cheesecloth and add to the vinegar solution. Bring liquid to a low boil.
  14. Add the beets and onions. Simmer 5 minutes.
  15. Remove the spice bag and discard.
  16. Fill sterilized hot jars with beets and onions, leaving ½ inch of headspace.
  17. Add hot vinegar solution, filling to within ½ inch of top of the jar.
  18. Remove any air bubbles and adjust headspace to ½ inch if needed.
  19. Wipe the rim tops of the jars with a clean damp cloth or paper towel.
  20. Add lids and bands, tighten finger tight.
  21. Place jars in water bath canner and process according to the proper times for your local altitude.
  22. Hot Pack: Pints or Quarts
  23. 0 - 1,000 ft. = 30 min.
  24. 1,001 – 3,000ft. = 35 min.
  25. 3,001 – 6,000ft. = 40 min.
  26. Above 6,000ft. = 45 min.
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Your Comments:  Do you make your own Pickled Beets?  We’d love to know if you give any of our recipes a try.  Please take just a moment to share your comments with us in the section below.  All of our comments are moderated.  That means, we read each and every one of them.  We also reply back to your comments as often as possible so after you leave us a comment, come back soon to check out our reply.  Thank you for stopping by today.  I hope you’ve enjoyed our site and that you’ll come back often.

Be Blessed!!!
Steve

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Category: Canning-Freezing

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Comments (24)

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  1. Sharon says:

    I love beets fresh roasted and served either warm or chilled, and also pickled beets as long as they are home-canned like my grandmother made them. I agree that the ones from the store don’t taste nearly as good, plus I like to can my own foods when possible so I know what’s in there.

    I used the directions found at this link for roasting beets, and the skins do slip off very easily once slightly cooled. Also, you keep the rich red nutrients that are lost in the boiling/draining process.

    http://whatscookingamerica.net/Vegetables/OvenRoastedBeets.htm

    I’ve never canned beets myself, but I think I’ll try it this season and use your canning recipe (except roast the beets instead of boiling). Thanks so much for the recipe and step by step details!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Sharon, Thank you for your comments regarding the Pickled Beets. I do hope you get the chance to can some up this summer. Once you get started, it will be hard to stop, but you can do it. I’ve never tried roasted beets, as I’ve never been a real fan of beets in general. Thank you for the suggestion. I appreciate your visit and trust you’ll stop by for another visit with us… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

      • Sharon says:

        I’m the only one in our house who eats beets, my husband agrees with you, he says they just taste like dirt. :-)

        • Steve Gordon says:

          Hi Sharon, Thumbs Up for your husband agreeing with me. (Smile) Maybe one day we’ll like them better, but for now, I’ll just stick with eating the Pickled Beets. Thank you for your comments. I do appreciate your visits and we’ll be looking for you to stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  2. JudyS says:

    Hi Steve,
    A friend loves pickled beets so — though I haven’t canned for years — I thought I’d make some for her. Your clear, beautifully photographed instructions were like manna from heaven! Thank you for taking the time. Now here’s my question: Joy of Cooking (c.1997) says that the USDA does not recommend canning onions at home, presumably because they are low acid. They note that pickled beets — unlike canned UNpickled beets which require a pressure cooker — are safe when canned in a water bath. So is it your understanding that onions are also safe when pickled? I assumed so since they are part of your recipe, but thought I’d ask what you know about this. Thanks!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi JudyS, Thank you for your question regarding the Pickled Beets Recipe. It’s my understanding that its the “pickling” process that makes the onions safe for water bath canning. I’m not sure this has always been the case and not aware of when the thinking behind this might have changed. The main thing is to always use a trusted recipe from a legitimate source when you can anything, whether with a water bath canning process or using a pressure canner.

      If you were just canning onions to keep them through the winter, those would have to be processed in a pressure canner because of the low acid levels you mention.

      You’ll find several recipes in the Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving that use onions as part of the recipe and they are all processed with the water bath canner. Recipes like, Chow-Chow Relish, Bread and Butter Pickles, Pepper-Onion Relish, Vinegared Red Onions and Onion Pickles, ALL use the water bath method, so we have to believe it’s safe in such recipes.

      I appreciate your question and do hope this helps. As always, whenever you’re in doubt, it’s wise to consult your local Agriculture Extension Service office for their suggestions and expertise.

      Thank you again for your comments and I do hope you’ll stop by for another visit… real soon. Be Blessed!!!

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the very detailed recipe and instructions, the best I’ve seen. I wish I had planted more beets…I only have enough for 2 or 3 pint jars, of course, I did eat a lot of them fresh. I’m canning the beets tomorrow, hope they turn out as well as yours did.
    Thanks again for your time in putting this together.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Eileen, It’s my pleasure to share the recipes and comments like yours make the process all worthwhile. Let us know how your Pickled Beets turn out, I’ll be waiting to hear from you. Thank you for your comments and for trying the recipe. I hope you’ll stop by for another visit… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  4. Sandy says:

    A huge thank you for putting in the time and effort of sharing this recipe. I’ve got 12 jars of these sitting here. I had a few leftover (mostly because I was lazy and didn’t want to prep another jar) so I tasted them and will eat them soon. They are really good and I’m sure the ones in jars will be better after they’ve sat a while. So, THANKS!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Sandy, You’re welcome! You’ve been busy to have put up 12 jars of Pickled Beets. I’m sure they will taste much better after they have had a few weeks to pickle up. I’m glad you tried the recipe and I appreciate you taking the time to share your comments and results. Do visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  5. Michele says:

    Hi Steve.

    I am trying this again and have 2 questions for you. Hopefully you have some thoughts….. :)

    The first one is can I double the recipe since you said you halved it?

    The second one is can. I prep,cook and peel first, and then pickle later today or tomorrow.

    Thanks again for your help!

    Michele

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Michele, Sounds like you must have planted a lot more beets this year. Thank you for your questions and for taking the time to comment. The only problem you might have with doubling the recipe is just having to do more work. But, if you have the beets available and don’t mind the extra effort, you shouldn’t have any problems. It was just more than I needed to do when I made mine so I cut the recipe in half.

      I assume you’re talking about just down to the point of having removed the skins… right? I don’t see where you would have any problems with refrigerating them overnight after you’ve peeled them and then moving forward. Personally, I don’t think I would cook the beets and onions together and then stop. You would have to bring them back up to a low boil again before packing the jars. I’d much rather get them in jars right away than delaying at that point. Make sense?

      I’m glad you’ve tried the recipe and moving forward with your canning adventures. Keep up the good work and do come back for another visit… real soon.

      Be Blessed!!! – Steve

  6. This is my second year to can beets so I am still new to this. My question has to do with the texture of the finished product. I like the beets to be firm, but not hard. The first batch that I did (when the beets first came in) was mushy. Also the color faded some. A week or so later the second batch was more firm and the color was perfect. What gives? Is it the ripeness of the beet or just luck? I need advice on the process more than the recipe. Thanks for any help you can give. PS The cooking time on my recipe is 30 to 45 min. to get the skins to slip off.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Christie, Thank you for your questions and for opening a giant can of worms in how to respond. Ha! It’s really difficult to say why one batch turned out a bit mushy and the others were more firm. A lot of things might have been the culprit along the way and selecting just one, without having been involved, is really up for grabs.

      I had a Strawberry farmer tell me once that the best berries always came in a couple of weeks after the first ones were being harvested. Thus, I wait a week or two before purchasing Strawberries for making jams etc. Does this happen with beets? I don’t really know.

      I suspect they were mushy more because of being overcooked or over processed when canning. When a recipe states a cooking time of 30-45 minutes, that’s a 15 minute variable. Does that mean for ALL sizes of beets? I wouldn’t think so. Most of the guidelines suggest “cooking the beets until tender” before removing the skins. Thus, times would vary based on the size of the beet with smaller one’s cooking quicker and bigger ones needing more time. It’s something you will just need to test as you go and learn what works best for you.

      If you have the option of hand picking your beets, try to find one’s that are relatively the same size. Don’t go for anything beyond the size of a tennis ball as they are generally older and will be a bit tougher with all the fibers in them. This will allow for a more even cooking time. Also, try to purchase them as fresh as possible instead of something that has been dug for a longer period. How they have been stored would have an effect on them as well. Farmers markets or a local gardener are much better choices for purchasing than from a grocery store… if possible.

      Consult with your local Agriculture Extension Service as they often have pamphlets available with information on how to select the best ingredients and also on how to can and preserve them. Many offer classes that are very reasonably priced for both beginners and experienced folks. Knowledge is a good thing. If they can’t answer your questions, they can usually get the answer for you, not only with beets, but with anything you might be preserving.

      We all have canned items that don’t turn out the way we expect. Jams get under cooked and turn out runny, or over cooked and turn out too gummy. Don’t get discouraged with failed attempts and do continue to keep working with it and continue to learn as you go. You might also need to look at the processing time you had them in the water bath based on the altitude of where you live. Did they over cook during that time frame and get soft and mushy? As I said, it’s difficult to answer, especially not knowing all of the variables involved. I know this doesn’t directly answer your question but perhaps it will give you some things to consider and investigate before diving into another batch. I wish I could be of more help.

      Thank you though for sharing your results and for taking the time to comment. I greatly appreciate it and wish you nothing but continued growth and success as you move forward with your canning adventures. Perhaps you’ll let us know how the next batches turn out. Do visit with us often and keep up the great work with your home food preservation projects. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  7. Tom P. says:

    Steve you did a great job explaining how to pickle beets one of the best I found so
    through. I pickled beets today from my garden,ended up with 15 pints.Hope i did good
    my Mom always made the best ones. I have her recipe that was her moms. Anyway I did
    not have any problem removing the skins,I just boiled all the beets at once using 3
    separate large pans started about 10-15 min. apart.While I just used my hands no gloves,I removed the hot beets in to another pan no liquid,placed it in the sink
    ran cool water in it,and began sliding off the stems and skins,place the stems and skins in a sparate pail and dump that in the compost later. Place the skined beets in
    another clean bowl,after all the beets are skinned you can begin to cut away ends and
    cube,compost the cutaway too. All awhile your jars are being boiled,and your canning
    liquid is heating up while your cutting up the beets.Just the way my line was running
    And then the clean up of the messy kitchen.Thanks for the tip on checking the seal on
    the jar lids,I had not found anything on that. And i could hear the “ping” of the seal several times as I was sitting and resting and a little praying that my FIRST
    ever canning comes out half as good as Mom’s and Grandma’s. Thanks again. Tom

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Tom, Thank you for your comments and welcome to the Wonderful World of Home Canning. As I’ve mentioned to other commenters, canning can become addictive. I’m glad you found the recipe and gave the Pickled Beets a try. I hope they turn out very well for you and I’ll look forward to hearing more about that. I do hope you’ll continue your canning adventures and I wish you all the best with it. Do stop by for another visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  8. Michele says:

    OMG Steve, they came out SO good! Hate to say it, but even better than my friend who gave me some she made last year.

    I used cider vinager, as that is what I had on hand. I also roasted the beets becasue I had so many different sizes, I figured it would be easier to sort and roast in packets according to size. I had no problems rubbing the skin off, as the packets kept them warm.

    Definatly doing again next year, and growing lots more beets too!

    Gave away 2 of the 4 jars I made for in laws. Both sets devoured them and said they could have eaten the pint jar in a sitting. They have requested more for next year.

    Thank you again for making this so easy to understand.

    Michele

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Thank you so much Michele…for returning and letting me know the recipe turned out well for you. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to do that. I can tell you are a very generous person. You gave away half of what you made. That’s awesome. After I started canning, I started telling folks that anytime someone gave them something they had canned themselves…they must think you’re someone very special. I do it pretty much for fun, even though I give most of mine away as gifts also. I truly admire the folks that spend all summer canning for their families to have vegetables, jams, preserves etc. for use all year long. It’s very rewarding but it does take a good deal of time and effort to make happen. I’m just so glad that you and your family enjoyed them and glad to hear you say you’re already planning on making more next season. Please stop by again soon. I look forward to hearing more from you and your own canning adventures. Be Blessed!!! –Steve

  9. Michele says:

    Hi Steve.

    congratualtions on your first place win! I hope my beets come out good…..they are processing as I type. I got 4 packed jars (all spoken for) from my garden. Next year I will grow more beets. A few questions….Why do I have to get rid of the air bubbles? Tell me about the cooking liquid…does it have to cover the veggie while boiling? Thanks again for your blog and recipie! I learned a lot today!

    Michele

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Michele, Thank you for the congrats. I’m sure your beets will be even better. At least you’re able to grow your own. I do know that mine came from a farm just a few miles away at least.

      As for the bubbles. No matter how hard you try, you’ll probably still find a few after the jars seal. You just have to do the best you can to remove as many as possible before placing the lid and bands on. You need to remove them so that you can get the best seal possible on your jars. That ping you hear after you remove them, is air being sucked out from inside the jars which in turns pulls the center part of your lid down and makes the ping noise. As long as you hear the seal, you should be fine. And, if you see some bubbles, don’t be concerned, it just happens. Now, if weeks later you happen to notice some bubbles boiling up from the bottom to the top inside your jars, that would be a different story and you should probably toss those out.

      As for the liquid, I guess the biggest thing there is again, just doing your best. You’d certainly need enough liquid to come close to keeping them covered. I think it just helps them to cook more evenly. I use a slotted spoon to place the cooked beets in my jars, then I fill them up with the hot liquid. I pack them full with beets first, because I know I’m going to be entering them into competition. If the jars aren’t full, you can sometimes see the product floating up to the top and just liquid at the bottom of the jar.

      As always, I highly suggest you search out the Agriculture Extension Office nearest you…or online…for all the latest procedures for canning and freezing. You’ll find lots of various opinions about how to do this kind of thing on the internet….always best to use a reliable source. The views and expressions on Taste of Southern…are just mine. Again, I hope this helps. Hardest part is waiting a couple of weeks for them to take on some flavor but after that…you can enjoy them. Be Blessed!!! –Steve

  10. Michele says:

    Hi Steve
    I found your recipie when looking to can my first batch of home grown (organic) beets. A friend made some last year, and I so enjoyed them I just had to try my own. Like you I had always thought beets were….well gross. I had to pick the beets a little early because the deer and racoons were having a giant party in my garden, and I wanted to salvage some of the summer in a jar. I will let you know how they work out. BTW, A big Thank You for doing the step by step….I am a novice canner and I appreciate the tips.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Michele, I’m so glad you found Taste of Southern. I truly appreciate your comments and I’m delighted to know that you are giving the Pickled Beets Recipe a try. I must warn you though, canning can become a bit habit forming. After a time or two…you just start looking for more things to can. I do hope you have good experiences with it and that you’ll continue your canning adventures. I look forward to hearing how they turn out for you so keep us informed. And, I’ll let you be the first to know that I entered a jar of my beets in our Regional Fair and they took a First Place Ribbon. They are the exact same one’s that I did the recipe on. Please stop by again soon and if you’d tell your friends about us, I’d appreciate that also. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments with me. Be Blessed!!! –Steve

  11. LindsayH says:

    This is the best, most thorough, and easy-to-follow recipe + method for canning beets that I’ve found online. Thank you so much for writing this post, I am sure it took a considerable amount of time and work! I made a batch of beets today using this post as my guide and they turned out wonderfully.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      WOW Lindsay, you are just too kind. I’m so glad you found the recipe and gave it a try…and really delighted that they turned out well for you. It does take a little time to put a recipe together and get it on the Internet but, comments like yours make it all worth it. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to leave us a comment and hope you’ll drop by again soon. We’re glad to have you visit any time. Be Blessed!!! –Steve

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