Let’s pickle beets! These gorgeous jewels will be enjoyed throughout the year.
This recipe is from my mom-in-law’s, mom – Grandma Ann. I love that it has just a touch of sweetness compared to other recipes that call for much more sugar. I think Grandma Ann got it just right!
But be careful, not every recipe passed down through the generations is safe to make based on what we know about safe canning today. After the recipe, I go into more details about how I judged if Grandma Ann’s recipe was safe and tasty.
Now that the beets are coming in from the garden, I thought it was time to post the recipe.
Go ahead and try this recipe with golden or red beets.
How To Pickle Beets & Can Them
This recipe makes 4 pint jars. A pint jar is about 2 cups or 500ml.
If you really don’t want to hot water bath these beets, you can keep them in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. But really, the hot water bath process is easy and frees up fridge space.
This recipe can also be halved or doubled.
- 4 lbs of beets 12-16 medium beets (3 inch diameter)
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups vinegar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp pickling or kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp pickling spice
- Trim off beet tops leaving a bit of the greens and root tip to reduce bleeding. Wash and scrub well. Place in large pot, cover with water, bring to boil then simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from water and cool beets so you can trim and remove peel. Cut into 1/4" slices.
Prepare Canner & Jars
- While beets are cooking, fill large pot or canner with water so that jars will be covered by 1" of water.
- Check jars for cracks, wash with warm soapy water, rinse well and place in canner.
- Heat jars in canner (no need to sterilize as final processing will be longer than 10 minutes). Keep hot until needed.
- Heat lids in small pot of water. Do not boil, just keep hot until needed.
- In large pot, combine water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pickling spice. Bring to boil and simmer five minutes until salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Add beets to brine to heat through.
- Tightly pack beet slices from brine into hot jars to within 3/4 inch of rim.
- Add hot vinegar brine to cover beets. Use a plastic utensil to remove any air bubbles and add more brine, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
- Wipe rim with clean cloth and seal with hot sealing lid. Screw band on top and tighten finger tight.
- Process in hot water bath for 30 minutes for both pint (500 mL) or quart (1 L) jars.
- Makes 4 pint (500 mL) jars
Assuming that 3-4 medium beets (3 inches in diameter) equals one pound which equals about 2 to 2 1/2 cups chopped beets.
Processing time from National Center for Home Food Preservation. Remember to adjust cooking times if you're at altitudes higher than 1000 ft (306 m) above sea level.
Is it Safe to Use Grandma’s Pickled Beets Recipe?
You may be wondering, if it’s safe to use Grandma’s canning recipe. At least, I hope you consider this question because not every canning recipe passed down through the generations follows today’s safe canning practices. Our research and knowledge about safe preserves continues to change and evolve and many of our heirloom family recipes have not kept up to date. If you’re new to canning and not one hundred percent clear on all the safety concerns, always use a recipe from a trusted source like the National Centre for Home Food Preservation or from professionals like me who have training in this area, always refer to safe practices and take food safety seriously.
So how do I know Grandma Ann’s Pickled Beets are safe?
Well, for starters, it’s a pickling recipe requiring a very high acid brine made with vinegar. And, when compared to other recipes from trusted sources like the National Center of Home Food Preservation, I see that the ratio of vinegar to all other ingredients is just as high in Grandma’s recipe as in other safe pickling recipes. Given my knowledge and experience with canning, I’m confident this recipe is safe.
Furthermore, I added the hot water bath processing to this recipe, something I suspect Grandma Ann probably didn’t do. I know this extra step will help ensure a tight vacuum seal that will last a long time and prevent any yeast or mold from spoiling my preserves.
Put it all together and I’m super confident about sharing this recipe with you and your family. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Can I Use this Recipe for Quick Refrigerator Beets?
Yes! If you are really hesitant about processing these beets in a hot water bath, you can use them like a quick refrigerator pickle. Basically, after pouring the hot brine over the beets, you put the lid on, let the jar get to room temperature and then store it in the fridge for up to four weeks.
The National Centre for Home Food Preservation suggests storing them for a maximum of four weeks in the fridge if not heat processed. If this recipe is too much for you to use within four weeks, you can easily half this recipe.
Using Different Sized Beets
Unless you’re buying beets and can select beets that are uniform size, chances are your garden beets will come in all sizes. No problem!
Just stagger when you add your beets to the boiling water. Start with your biggest beets to give them a 5-10 minute head start. Here’s a graphic showing how long to boil different sized beets for consistent pieces in your pickled beet jar.
The beet harvest has just begun and already I have 4 jars of pickled beets put away for the winter. Yum!
More Beet Recipes
Here are a couple of other beet recipes you’ll find on this site.
What are your favorite beet recipes? Comment below so I can have some new recipe ideas to try! If you can some pickled beets, please take a photo and tag #getgettys so I can see it and like it!
Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist, speaker, frequent media guest and writer sharing tips and recipes to build confidence and teach skills on how to use whole seasonal foods. She is the author of several recipe books, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener. Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this.