August 31, 2008

Home Canned Pickled Beets - An easy Amish pickled beet recipe using roasted beets to preserve bright color

Today I canned pickled beets. I decided it's really a labor of love... if you don't love them, it's not worth the labor!

Beets are one of the more affordable vegetables in the store and at $.50 a can it's not a big expense... hmm does that mean that beets are not very well liked by the general population? LOL. I grew up eating beets and love them! Preferably hot with lots of butter, salt and pepper, but I also like them pickled and ice cold on a hot summer day. This year I planted beets in my garden although only a few 'made it' - however, my father grew beets this year and got a lot of them! He brought me a bag of them 2 weeks ago and yesterday I got another bag. At this point I knew I better start doing something with them!

I would have loved to have canned them with just salt but I don't have a pressure canner and a low acidic food such as beets (or carrots, green beans, etc.) really need to be pressure canned. Only high acidic foods or foods made with vinegar are good for water baths. So - that is how I came to make pickled beets today.


My recipe is out of an old Amish recipe book that my FIL gave me and it used to be my MIL's years ago (she passed away in 1982). I love the recipes in this book because the Amish women assume that you know just what they mean and use as little words as necessary.

(typos are as typed in the Amish recipe book and are not mine);

How to Can Beets

To every quart vinegar add 1 tablespoon salt, 1 heaping cup sugar. If your beets are dark red use part white sugar. Spice whatever you like. Heat to boiling point and pour over beets. Can while hot.

That's it. The whole recipe.

So... here is my version - with just a few more details as I made them.

Home Canned Beets - Pickled

1 quart vinegar - cider/white (I used a mixture because I didn't have enough cider vinegar)
1 c water
1 heaping cup sugar 
1 1/2 T salt (I checked 3 recipes and there was a disagreement on how much so I did 1 1/2 T.)
1/4 t cinnamon more or less to taste
1/8 - 1/4 t cloves more or less to taste
10 lb. beets

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and optional cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil and simmer until ready.

Scrub fresh beets and cut off the roots and tops. Roast in a roasting pan in the oven, covered for an hour and then immediately fill the roasting pan with ice water or dump the beets into ice water so the skins will slip right off.

Dice or cut beets to size, or if they are very small, under 2 inches, leave whole if you prefer.

You can also boil them if you prefer although this will leak more of the red color out and they won't be quite as vibrant. Continue with the cutting and packing as above.

Pack into hot, sterilized jars. Cover the beets with the hot brine leaving 1/2 - 3/4 inch head space. Tighten lids and caps and water bath process for 35 minutes for quarts and 30 minutes for pints.

Let cool on the counter, making sure they 'pop' and store to use. I got about 3 quarts out of this.

Cutting off the roots and stems In the roasting pan (I removed the cover for the photo) Plunged into cold water Sliced or diced and packed into hot, sterilized jars After a 35 minute water bath let them set to cool and 'pop' and then store in a cool dry place like a cupboard.

You might be interested in some products related to this post, available through Amazon;

Note:  all you need to can beets is a good canning jar and lid.  You can water bath can them in any large pot you have that will hold enough water to cover the jar and boil it to seal.  However, if you want to can more items, especially those that can only be canned with a pressure canner, investing in a good pressure canner is an excellent idea because it can be used for both pressure and water bath canning!  Plus you know you have a large enough pot to use no matter the size of jar you have to can with.

My favorite is the Presto 23 quart pressure canner - and it's the one I own.  It's easy to learn to use and is tall enough you can can two layers of pint sized jars.  It's an affordable first pressure canner if you are in the market for one. It also has proven to be easy to use a glass top stove.

Presto 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker 


Many people love the All American.  For years I had this on my 'wish list' but it was never in the budget.  This one was on my wish list before I ever owned a pressure canner and didn't know much about them yet.  It looked so intimidating to me! 

When I started to research pressure canners I personally bought the one I listed above (the Presto) because at the time I had/have a glass top stove and didn't want a pressure canner that was so heavy it would possibly crack the glass.  The Presto was reviewed by many people online that said they used it with a glass top stove, and it was about half the cost of the All American Pressure Canner so I bought it.  I've been 100% happy with it, but for those of you looking for the All American brand, I know many swear by it and only want to use this brand.

All American 921 Canner Pressure Cooker, 21.5 qt, Silver

Here is a newer option on the scene as of this post *update* (original post from 2008) and a lot of people love it.  It's an electric pressure canner.  I have it on my current 'maybe' wish list as I've seen a lot of long time canners like it.  These are women who have been canning for 30 and 40 years that downsized and use this smaller sized 'smart' pressure canner and seem perfectly happy with it.  For small batches, I'm intrigued and hope to get one at some point when it's in my budget.

NESCO NPC-9 Smart Pressure Canner and Cooker, 9.5 quart, Stainless Steel



No matter what kind of canning you want to do, you need jars and lids/rings.  You can find them in almost any various retail stores near you or online.  Personally I like the wide mouth quart and pints but if you can only find regular mouth sized that's perfectly fine too. 

Ball Glass Mason Jar with Lid & Band, Regular Mouth, 32 Ounces, 12 Pack 



Canning accessories are awesome to have and make a few steps easier or quicker but are not necessary to start canning.  However they are relatively cheap and so nice to have!  If I had to choose ONE item that I would say is a must have it would be the jar lifter.  (The tall thing pictured below with a rubberized grip and plastic handles.)  This easily lifts the burning hot jars out of the water.  If you can only buy one canning accessory to start, that's the one I'd get.

Norpro Canning Essentials Boxed Set, 6 Piece Set   

Lids and rings can be hard to find, and the newer versions that have been produced by the big name canners have changed how they make them.  Instead of nice, thick rubber seals for lids you can reuse over again, they switched to a very thin rubber seal so your lids are now one-use.  A good money maker for THEM as now everyone has to buy more lids... 

But back in the 1970's a company started to make lids with rubber gaskets that can be used over and over again.  They are a HOT ITEM NOW as a new generation of canners are starting to find out about them.  They are Tattler reusable canning lids and I LOVE THEM.  

They do have to be used a little bit differently than the traditional metal lids, so many canners don't read the instructions, use them as they did the metal lids, and are not happy when some of them don't seal tight for them.

But if you read the directions and use them correctly they are so, so awesome!  I love them and I've never had a seal fail using them.   

Authentic Tattler E-Z Seal Reusable Canning Lids - Wide Mouth - 1 Dozen (12) 

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