Canned Pickled Beets


September 25, 2011 by Sara Kreidler

We canned for the first time last year, and our first canning experience was pickled beets.  Toby’s mom and kind enough to come over and spend the day teaching us.  We learned that (1) canning wasn’t so scary after all, and (2) canning beets was a LOT of work.  Today, we revisited the second lesson.

If you follow this blog, you know that we’ve put up a ton of food this summer (most notably, 180 pounds of tomatoes which yielded 80 quarts of crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce), so we’re not strangers to waking up early on weekends, spending a good chunk of the day prepping and canning food and cleaning up the aftermath.  We’ve had many canning adventures this summer, and even on the longest, messiest days, I found myself thinking well, it’s still not as bad as canning beets.

Today, we canned a half bushel of beets (plus about 5 more pounds that had accumulated in the fridge), which yielded 28 pints.  We started at 8 am and finished up around 1:30 pm, and it would have taken a good deal longer had we not used our patented double kettle technique. Canning beets is a ton of work and it makes an incredible mess; I had to wipe down the counters, cabinets and floors several times because first they were splattered with dirt from the scrubbing phase, and then they were splattered with red beet juice from the canning phase, and then I found more places where somehow dirt and/or beet juice had landed.  But the hard labor is well worth it; we love having these sweet, tangy, earthy beets all winter long — they make otherwise dull winter salads taste amazing.

We adapted the Ball Blue Book recipe of pickled beets; the Blue Book calls for adding cinnamon and allspice to the brine, but Toby’s mom doesn’t add those spices to her beets and we wanted ours to be as close to hers as possible.

The following recipe is for approximately 5 pounds of beets, which will yield 5-6 pints (we just multiplied the recipe by 5 to cover our 25 or so pounds of beets).

Adapted from the Ball Blue Book


  • 5 pounds beets
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water


  1. Wash the jars in the dishwasher.
  2. While the jars are washing, scrub and rinse the beets to remove as much dirt as possible.  Place the washed beets in a large pot and fill with water.  Bring pot to a boil and cook beets until fork tender (it took about 45 minutes for us, but the time will depend upon the size of your pot and the size of your beets). Drain beets and discard cooking water.  Allow beets to cool slightly.  Wearing food safe latex or rubber gloves to prevent your hands from becoming stained, peel the beets by scrubbing them with a paper towel — the skins should slip right off, but you may have to cut away stubborn spots with a pairing knife.  Discard skins. Cut off and discard any bad spots on the beets. Cut larger beets into chunks.  Set prepared beets aside.
  3. Also, while the jars are washing, prep your canning area.  I like to put down old (clean) kitchen towels and hot pads so I don’t have to worry about scorching the counter.  Get your jar lifterlid wand, ladle, rings, lids, and wide mouth funnel ready.  I use a chopstick to remove air bubbles, but you can also use a small plastic spatula or plastic spoon (just don’t use a metal utensil, which can scratch and/or crack your jars).
  4. Remove hot jars from dishwasher, place inside canner and fill the canner with hot water so that all of the jars are full and covered by 1 inch of water.  Put the canner on your largest burner and bring the water to a boil.
  5. Bring a small pot of water to a simmer.  Add the lids to the simmering water; do not boil the lids.
  6. Combine the sugar, salt, vinegar and water in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Stir to make sure the salt and sugar have dissolved.
  7. Remove the pots of simmering lids and brine from the stove and place on hot pads near your jar filling station.  Place the beets near your filling station.  Have the canning tools listed in step 3 handy.
  8. Remove 1 jar from the canning pot and dump out the water.  Pack the beets in the jars. Place the jar on the counter, place the funnel on top of the jar and ladle in the hot brine, leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top of the jar. Take the funnel off of the jar and use a chopstick to remove the air bubbles; add more brine if needed to maintain 1/4 inch of headspace after the jar is de-bubbled.  Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel.  Use the lid wand to remove 1 lid from the pot and place it on top of the jar.  Screw the ring onto the jar until it is finger-tip tight (you don’t want it to be too tight or the air won’t be able to escape during processing).  Repeat with each jar until all of the jars are full.
  9. Return the jars to the boiling water in the canner.  The water should cover the jars by at least 1 inch. Place the lid on the canner and process at a full boil for 30 minutes. Remove the jars from the canner and place on a towel on the counter.  Do not disturb the jars while they cool.
  10. Label the sealed jars and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.  If any of the lids fail to seal, the unsealed jars should be refrigerated because they are not shelf stable.

16 thoughts on “Canned Pickled Beets

  1. […] and let them cool on the counter (Toby’s mom taught me to cover my jars with a towel when we pickled beets last year – I do not know why this step is needed, but she said that it is, and I do not question […]

  2. […] pickled beets.  Which is good news since we’re down to only 2 pints from last year’s beet can-a-thon.  Also seen in this shot is a nice white onion which I used tonight to make dinner. A pointy […]

  3. […] ma vie en food cooking, canning & csa-ing Skip to content Homeabout ma vie en foodcooking indexcanning inventorycsa inventorylocal linksbookshelf ← Canned Pickled Beets […]

  4. […] baguette, cheese, olives, hummus and tomato jam; assorted veggies from the CSA and a jar of beets for a big salad; freshly baked brownies and a few bottles of wine.  We had all of these things on […]

  5. […] Pickled beets. We did our beets in late September and we’re already getting pretty low.  We eat these on almost all of our salads, and they’re popular with our family and friends so we like to give away some jars as gifts.  Last year we did 28 pints and we’re down to 7 pints now; this year I’m going to shoot for 35 pints. […]

  6. Gail says:

    i think i filled a couple of jars too full as they were leaking from the rim in the canner..are they still ok??..the lids have been sealing(popping)..thx for any help..loves ya

    • Sara says:

      Hi Gail. That loss of liquid is also called siphoning. It happens to me sometimes too, and I’ve done a good bit of research on it. As long as your lids have good seals, and as long as you haven’t lost more than half of the liquid in the jars, the food inside is perfectly safe to eat. Siphoning occurs when there is too much air in your jars, so you may have missed some air pockets when you de-bubbled your jars. Here’s a link with some more info on siphoning and other canning issues: One last note, I recommend that you give the jars a good wipe down on the outside; if liquid escaped, there is likely residue on the outside of the jars, and it can turn moldy on the outside of the jar, which won’t hurt the food inside the jar but just looks grody. Hope that helps!

  7. […] box and assorted other ingredients that were hanging around in the fridge: crumbled goat cheese, pickled beets, pickled peppers, cherry tomatoes (woefully out of season and leaving much to be desired), and some […]

  8. Blayne Bradford says:

    Hi. Found you while googling about canning a bushel’s worth of pickled beets. Thanks for the info. I have canned lots of food, but I gotta say this is probably the worst idea I’ve ever had. LOL. But I know they’ll be totally worth it in the months to come. Thanks again!

    • Sara says:

      Hi Blayne! So glad you found what you were looking for here. A whole bushel of beets is a LOT but I find that doing very large batches of things like beets and tomatoes isn’t too bad as long as you prep all of your gear before you start, set aside a whole day to do it, make a big pot of coffee and resign yourself to the fact that both you and your kitchen are going to need a good scrub when you’re finished. But yes, totally worth it! Please let me know how it goes for you, and best of luck!

      • Blayne Bradford says:

        I think it would have been smoother with help. The worst part was my small kitchen. I haven’t eaten any yet. After smelling them all day I somehow lost an appetite for them, haha. I’m sure they’re delicious. Thanks again for the info.

  9. […] of something than a small one. This week I received a comment from a reader regarding my post on canning pickled beets, which he found while googling for instructions on canning a full bushel of beets. The […]

  10. Michele says:

    Thank you, thank you, for giving large batch measurements! So many recipes only make 1-5 pints and they are a lot math to multiply when you have a huge batch to to do. My mum had all her measurements hardwired in her head, alas I don’t have her mad skills, and sadly she’s no longer with us. Anyway…who’s going put in all that effort for a measly few jars. Small batch mess is the same as big batch mess. Why not getter done all at once?

  11. […] pickled beet and goat cheese salad with homemade […]

  12. georgie says:

    We love sliced onions canned in the pickled beets. Mom used some spices in her beets, I use just a little salt, vinegar and sugar (half and half). That is our favorite. And at certain times of the year we have pickled eggs, hard boiled eggs added to beets and juice for several days.. Delicious! Usually try to do 36-48 pints. Oldest granddaughter and sons can sit and eat a pint at a time.

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