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There is a special taste that goes with pickled beets that you either love or hate.
Most of us have strong opinions about these beautiful purplish-red root vegetable that is chocked full of minerals and vitamins.
We did a simple pot luck Alaskan wedding, where everyone brought a dish of something and my friend Rachel brought her great pickled beet salad. I even ate some in a pure white wedding gown. In Alaska, you can wear anything to a wedding, blue jeans and a T-shirt or sweater, mukluks or high heels and a fancy white wedding dress.
Back to the pickled beets. We would go to the Farmers market at the end of summer and buy gorgeous small round beets or big ones, it did not matter as you have to peel them.
The Alaskan summer in Fairbanks lasts about 3 months. You can safely plant your garden on the 1st of June and things better be harvested by the 1st of September. The snows hit and a cold freeze can ruin a crop.
Then the snow can stay on the ground for nine months. Having a good stock of food in a real necessity. I liked canning food even before I moved to the frozen north.
Back to Beets
I like this YouTube video ‘How to How Pickled Beets‘. It is a very simple basic recipe. This recipe does not call for pickling spice but you can add a little cheesecloth bag of spices with ¼- ½ teaspoon pickling spice to the jar. The guy speaks slowly and gives a lot of information.
I like adding onion to my pickled beets. I sometimes add some fresh onion to my pickled beets at least a half hour before I serve them so the onion turns pink and is still a bit crunchy. Garnish with fresh green dill chopped finely.
I recommend you review the basics of water bath canning before you start just to remember the finer points of canning, the above short video is great for that.
Another great canned pickled beet recipe is Watch “How to Pickle Beets – Martha Stewart” on YouTube
The recipe calls for 4 ½ pounds roasted peeled and cut beets. Roast until tender but not soft or you can boil them until tender but don’t overcook them.
When cool add in 1/2 pound white onions chopped and mix by hand. I use a plastic glove so I don’t have pink hands.
Pack them in sterilized jars up to a ½ inch from the top. The recipe adds a rosemary sprig and two slices of ginger. Personally, I omit the rosemary.
Heat in a saucepan 2 cups of 5% acidity apple cider vinegar 1/3 cup brown sugar and one cup clear water.
The recipe calls for adding a muslin sache bag tied with string.
Place one teaspoon of cloves, one cinnamon stick and one Tablespoon of allspice in a clean square of fabric and gather the edges and make a sachet.
I found the recipe not sweet enough and used ½ cup of white sugar instead. This is the only recipe I have ever used white sugar instead of brown but it tastes better to me and reminds me of Rachel’s recipe, so I use white sugar.
Heat the liquid until everything is dissolved for about 10 minutes and let it cool for 5 minutes.
Remove the spice sachet and pour the liquid onto the beets you packed in the jars. Using wide mouth jars helps.
Pour the vinegar, water, and sugar liquid on the beets up to a ½ inch from the top. Seal and process in the boiling water bath for 7 minutes.
Let the jars cool on a towel-lined counter undisturbed for 12 – 24 hours. Don’t forget to date and label your pickled beets. This should yield about 6-pint jars.
It is similar to the recipe above it includes pickling salt or kosher salt and omits the onions which can be added before serving.
Just chop up some white onion at least an hour to a half hour before serving. I like to keep my pickled beets cold in the refrigerator before putting them out on my table.
- 4 lbs of beets, 12-16 medium beets (3-inch diameter)
- 1 cup of water
- 2 cups vinegar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp pickling or kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp pickling spice
You can buy pickling spice but it is easy to make your own.
Normally I do not put cinnamon in my pickle spices, because I am usually making more salty types of pickles). I do add cinnamon to my pickled beet recipes. So before we start here is a pickling spice combination from Marisa McClellan.
Homemade Pickling Spice
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons dill seed
- 2 tablespoons allspice berries
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
10-12 bay leaves, crumbled
To which I add 1-2 broken up cinnamon sticks and 1 tablespoon of whole cloves for my pickled beets. Combine all the ingredients and put it in a small jar with a lid. The fresher the herbs and spices the better.
You can pretty much rest assured that these recipes are fine for canning because of the vinegar and sugar. You need a low pH for canning. Since beets have a 5.3-5.5 pH generally.
By adding vinegar you lower the pH to about 4.3-4.6.
Vegetables are generally not acidic so this needs to be considered in canning. If you live at a higher altitude check the recipe for alterations. Check your seals and label your cans before storing.
There is nothing so satisfying after canning to hear the ping of the cans as they are cooling on your kitchen counter and the vacuum seal is formed. It’s the sign of a job well done.
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.