By Stephanie Dayle
It’s that time of year when the beets in your garden should be finishing up. When I was a kid our choices were to eat them fresh, which I loved, or pressure can them, I despised eating canned beets. They were the source of many late nights at the dinner table while I stared down the “you may not get up until you eat your beets” ultimatum.
As an adult I learned that they could also be pickled, my mom was not fond of pickled beets so she never preserved them that way (you can also dehydrate them but that’s another article). I love old fashioned pickled beets, they are by far one of my most favorite snacks and side dishes! They are a far cry from their pressure canned counterparts. By “old fashioned” I mean they are pickled using a sweet brine with traditional ingredients.
Why Grow Beets?
Beets are a quick growing, hardy root vegetable. They are cold hardy so beets are a great crop to get in the ground as soon as possible for an early harvest giving you food when nothing else is ready yet. Beets can be steamed, roasted (my favorite), grilled, shredded for salad, and of course they can be preserved by being canned or pickled. They are also packed with potassium, magnesium, folate, and B vitamins! In other words, they are really good for you. Beets are also really good for livestock and are often fed to cattle and horses. The greens are completely eatable and are often prepared like ‘collard greens,’ they can also be juiced or dehydrated. Pigs, cattle, chickens and horses also enjoy the greens so nothing goes to waste. Click here for heirloom beet seed.
Here is a quick ‘how to’ on canning pickled beets!
Canning Pickled Beets
(recipe courtesy of the Ball Blue Book)
• 3 quarts beets (double recipe if you have more)
• 2 C sugar
• 2 sticks cinnamon
• 1 Tblsp whole allspice
• 1/2 Tblsp of whole cloves (I add this is variation of the recipe)
• 1 1/2 tsp salt
• 3 1/2 cups vinegar (use cider vinegar)
• 1 1/2 C water
Remove tops and root, then wash beets.
Cook beets for 20-30 in a large stock pot or canner (like pictured above), until you can just barely stick a fork them, then run them under cold water or stick them in a tub of cold water and peel them easily with your hands.
1.Wash beets, cook beets, peel and quarter beets.
2.Combine everything except beets in large sauce pot.
3.Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
4.Remove cinnamon sticks.
5.Pack beets into hot jars leaving 1/4″ headspace.
6.Ladle hot liquid over beets leaving 1/4″ headspace.
7.Remove air bubbles, then add lids and bands.
8.Process for 30 minutes in a hot water bath canner.
Yield: Approximately 6 pints or 3 quarts.
All ingredients combined and simmering – this is the sweet brine ready to go!
Sterilized jars filled with peeled beets – ready for the brine.
Water bath canner full of jars.
**This recipe and process is approved for safety – I even asked the WSU Extension Office if adding a few cloves was ok – they said it would not alter the safety of the recipe. Many people have written articles about pickling beets on the internet, any similarities are merely coincidence.**