Are you a fan of the beet? Or not so much? I’ve always liked beets, but Joel, well, not so much. Then one day, we were at a local eating establishment, and pickled beets were one of his side dishes. He tasted them and liked them!
The key was the recipe. It contained some spices that really amped up the tastiness. If you’ve never eaten store-bought pickled beets, they taste a lot like pure vinegar. I searched through my canning recipe books, as well as online, and then came up with a recipe of my own. Let’s hope it’s a winner!
Before we dive in, I’d like to just say a few words on behalf of the humble, yet awesome, beet. Beets are chock full of anti-oxidants. They are said to be helpful to internal organs such as the liver and kidneys. Many people eat beets as part of a “cleansing,” or “detox” for the body. I’ve read that it is not recommended to eat beets prior to having certain medical tests, such as colonoscopy or stool test. The characteristic dark red color could be mistaken for something-not-so-good. Sorry if that was gross! Onward…
Beets in the Garden
I have found that beets are very easy to grow from seed. This year’s beet seed assortment included “Early Wonder,” and I had a packet for a “Gourmet Blend” variety. The variety packet included the following types: Bull’s Blood (deep red tops and striped roots), Chioggia with interior striped rings of bright pink and white, and Golden, which are bright yellow in color. They were all so beautiful! I love the different colors, including the leaves. They made for gorgeous pickled beets.
Speaking of the leaves, they can be eaten in addition to the roots. With the bunch above, I was able to pickle the roots and sauté the leaves. To sauté them, I just used a little bit of oil and garlic. You can add whatever seasonings you like. These leaves didn’t taste very different from spinach, actually.
In order to pickle the beetroots themselves, they need to be boiled a bit and then peeled. It was during this process that I saw the true beauty in the different beets hues.
Preserving the Beet Harvest
If you plan to can your pickled beets, you can do so with a water bath canner. Water bath canning is appropriate for most fruits and pickled, acidic vegetables. Otherwise, you’ll need a pressure canner.
If you are new to canning, I highly recommend checking out the website for The National Center for Home Food Preservation. They have tested recipes and guidelines that are very specific. This organization recommends reading Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. They also recommend reading Principles of Home Canning if this is your very first time. Once you get a little practice canning, it will be far less daunting every time thereafter.
The Mountain Farmhouse Pickled Beets
2 1/2 pounds beets
1 pound onions
2 cups distilled, white vinegar (5 Percent acidity)
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon canning and pickling salt
1/2 cup sugar
7 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon whole allspice
To harvest beets, I gently get a small trowel next to the beet to give it a nudge. Then I pull them up by the greens, grasping close to the soil, all while still nudging with my trowel. Once picked, trim the tops off, but leave 1 inch each of the stem and roots. This, supposedly, prevents the color from bleeding. Wash each beet thoroughly.
In a pan of boiling water, place the trimmed, washed beets. Let cook about 25-30 minutes, until tender. Drain and discard the liquid. Let beets cool.
Now, it’s time to trim off the roots and stems and slide off the “skins.” This should be easy. Chop the beets, or slice into 1/4″ slices. (I like them chopped)
Peel the onions. Chop or thinly slice.
In a saucepan or kettle, mix vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Make a little bag out of cheesecloth and tie together the cloves, cinnamon stick, and allspice. Add the bag to the pan and bring it all to a boil. Let simmer for about 15 minutes.
Pack the beets and onions into hot, sterilized jars. I used the half-pint size. Leave an approximate 1/2-inch headspace at the top. Remove the spice bag from the pickling liquid. Pour the liquid over the beets and onions in the jars. Remove air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath. I processed them for 35 minutes, but adjust this time according to your altitude:
Up to 1,000 feet = 30 minutes
1,001 – 3,000 feet = 35 minutes
3,001 – 6,000 feet = 40 minutes
Above 6,000 feet = 45 minutes
This recipe made 4 half-pints, plus a little bit extra, which we gobbled up immediately!
The Pickled Beets Recipe
- 2 1/2 Pounds Beets -Any variety/varieties
- 1 Pound Onions
- 2 Cups Vinegar -White, distilled, 5% acidity
- 1 Cup Water
- 1/2 Teaspoon Canning and Pickling Salt
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 7 Whole cloves
- 1 Stick Cinnamon
- 1 Teaspoon Allspice
- Trim beet tops and roots to 1 inch. Wash the beets thoroughly.
- Bring enough water to cover beets in a medium - large saucepan to a boil. Add beets and cook for 25 minutes. Drain the beets, let them cool, and discard cooking liquid.
- Slide the skins off and trim the tops and roots completely.
- Chop beets into small pieces OR slice into 1/4" slices.
- Combine and stir vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a saucepan or kettle.
- Place cloves, cinnamon stick, and allspice into a makeshift cheesecloth bag. Tie with clean string. Add this bag to the vinegar mixture.
- Bring the vinegar mixture to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Then remove the spice bag.
- Pack beets and onions into prepared hot, sterilized jars. Leave about 1/2 inch headspace at the top.
- Pour pickling liquid over the beets and onions in the jars. Wipe each jar rim with clean cloth.
- Adjust jar lids and process in boiling water bath canner for approximately 35 minutes, or the correct time for your altitude. (see next step)
- Make sure you process for the amount of time appropriate for your altitude. Up to 1,000' = 30 minutes1,001 - 3,000' = 35 minutes3,001 - 6,000' = 40 minutesOver 6,000' = 45 minutes
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 74Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 2gSugar: 13gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information isn't always accurate. It is intended here to be used only as a guide.
Aren’t they beautiful? I guess the only slight disappointment is the fact that the very dark red beets overpower the others in color, so perhaps, next time I will sort the different types and pickle them separately. It did not affect the flavor, though!
They were a huge hit! “Joel-Approved!” I have a feeling this beet recipe will be used again and again at our Mountain Farmhouse. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
How do you like to eat beets?
Blessings to you and yours!
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