Thursday, April 26, 2012

Canning Pickled Beets ~ A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Beets harvested from the garden are delicious but even lovelier are these jewels in a jar! Pickling beets is fun and satisfying for they are so pretty to look at and so tasty to eat. Here is what you do to keep them safe and sound in your pantry:

  • Fill your canner two-thirds of the way up with water and bring to boil as this is your "boiling water bath" that you will use to process your canned goods in.
  • Wash and sterilize seven pint jars with hot, soapy water.
  • Wash seven lids and screw bands with hot, soapy water (just make sure that the lids/screw bands are the same size as your jars such as wide mouth or regular mouth).
  • Place your clean (and must be new each time) lids in a small sauce pan of water and set to simmer.
Now we can begin to prepare our food items. Wash and scrub those little roots and clip off the ends (approx. 10-12 pounds of beets for this recipe which makes about seven pints). Place them in a large pot and add water until they are covered.

Boil your beets until they are just about tender. You want to take into consideration that they will boil more in the canning jars in the canner so the "just tender" stage is what you want to achieve. If you can pierce them easily with a fork then they are ready.

When that is complete, drain the hot water from the boiled beets and flood the pot with cold water. When the vegetables have cooled down enough to touch them, simply remove the skins.

You may can the beets in their whole form shown in previous photo or you can slice them up so they are all ready to eat and to decorate your next green salad. Pickled beets are rich in fiber, low in fat, high in potassium, and are a good source of magnesium and vitamin A.

I like to slice mine so the jarred goods feel more like a convenience food… Aren't they pretty?

Next, you need to prepare the brine which is basically just the preserving liquid that will be poured into the jar of beets which keeps the acid/pH levels in a proper canning range. The word brine sounds so complicated when you read it in the recipes but all it is is a boiled combination of (for this particular recipe):
  • 1 quart of cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of pickling salt (I use fine sea salt)
Bring to boil these items together in a stainless steel pot.

Now, place the beets into the hot, sterilized pint jars and ladle your boiled brine into each one using a funnel. Fill each jar up to the 1/2 inch headspace requirement.

Headspace simply means the level in which to fill your jars with the appropriate liquid. This recipe calls for 1/2 inch headspace so you would ladle the brine up to the 1/2 inch point prior to the top of the jar. There is a diagram on my previous post about terms which better explains this.

Next, insert a plastic bubble remover inside the insides of each jar to release any air bubbles that may have formed while filling the jars. See those tiny critters in the picture above? The less bubbles in the jar prior to processing, the more effective the final seal is. As I said on the earlier post about canning terms (which shows a picture of removing air bubbles), you will be fine if some sneak through, just as long as the lids have sealed in the end after you process them in the boiling water bath.

Make sure to wipe off the rim of your jar with a clean damp rag once you have completed the steps above because liquid or bits of food can hinder the lid from properly sealing.

Once the above steps are achieved, use your magnetic lid wand to place the sterilized lids that were simmering (see prior post here for more explanation of how lids should be treated in detail) onto each jar. These lids should be simmering the whole time until you are finished placing the last of them on your jars. Note: You may not reuse a lid twice. A new lid must be used each time you can.

Next, firmly screw on bands until "just" secure (do not over-tighten). These bands may be re-used until they get corroded or disfigured. Just make sure to wash them in hot, soapy water each time.

Once you have prepared seven pint jars (that is the amount of which can fit at one time in the canning rack), place them slowly inside your rack using a jar lifter if hot and carefully load rack into the canner which should be full of boiling hot water at this point.

(This picture shows the rack resting along the side of the pot using the ledge in the canning rack.)

There is usually a little ledge in the canning rack that you can use to place the rack to rest on top of your canner. This is the time to make sure that all jars are straight and then you can lift up the rack gently and completely submerge your canning rack and contents inside the boiling water bath. I use oven mitts to ensure a safe experience. 

Once completely submerged, you need to make sure that the boiling water covers the jars by a few inches. If not, add more boiling water at this point until they are appropriately covered (I keep a kettle hot and ready just in case this happens.) Now you can place the lid back on to the canner and bring to a boil.

Note: Begin timing the processing time once your water returns to a rolling boil (The only time this rule changes is on some pickle recipes). For this recipe, you must water bath your pint jars for 30 minutes.

Once the jars have been in the boiling water bath for 30 minutes at a rolling boil, remove the rack of jars carefully from the canner and let them cool down for twenty four hours prior to touching them. If you are finished canning then you can shut off the heat and let them sit inside the canner with lid open for five minutes to allow the canner to cool down prior to removing the jars (though I always take mine out right away and live to tell the story).

Resist the temptation to touch the seals as they are still warm and can unseal if mishandled. They need time to rest and so do you! I usually reserve the next day to check for unsealed jars (which means you get to eat your harvest sooner than later if you find any that did not seal, simply place these jars in the refrigerator or you can re-water bath them in the next batch should you desire) and wipe the outside of the jars with a damp towel should they require it.

Note: Canned items are best stored in a cool and dark area.

Here is my favorite part, the labels! I think I can just so I can use these… I tend to be a bit label happy. Should you like to use our vintage inspired labels, then you may print them from HERE. Enjoy! It sure "beets" labeling them by hand.

You can either print labels on plain paper and affix them with a glue stick (I do this since it cleans off easier than sticker labels) or you can print on label paper or plain sheet sticker paper. You can also use a sharpie and mark the contents and date directly on the lids.

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadFrom the Farm Blog HopFront Porch Friday Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou FridayShabbilicious FridaySimply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them).


  1. Your beets are beautiful. I am so looking forward to doing some vegetable canning this summer. I will be back thank you wonderful post andi thewednesdaybaker

    1. Thank you :) There is so much satisfaction in preparing your own food from start to finish!

  2. I planted beets this year. I am looking forward to pickling them also. We have been pickling eggs here lately.

    1. These beets are a hit around here and we just did eggs yesterday :) And as always, home grown are tastiest! We plant beets twice a year with good success.

  3. Sigh...I miss my home-canned pickled beets. One of the drawbacks to moving to Florida is that beets do not grow well here and end up being pretty expensive at the market. Someday, I'll figure out how to get a good crop! Thank you for adding this post to Homestead Helps!

  4. Thanks for linking up this great canning tutorial @CountryMommaCooks link and great party. I love the labels too....Hope to see you again at tomorrows party:)

  5. Pinned the post and going to add it to Stumbleupon- Thank you so much for sharing the recipe and love your photos


  6. I love pickled beets! I made them a lot with my mom when I was a teenager. It has been a while now since my own family is not fond of them!

  7. Yum, yum, yum! I love pickled beets :) Thanks for sharing, sweet friend. Enjoy your day!


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