Post #3198: Pickling Beets

A friend up the hill says to me, “feel free to come and harvest my garden anytime, I’m not eating enough of it.” And so after the gym last Friday we go over there, crack a beer and get to work pulling carrots and beets out of the ground, picking blackberries and beans. Some of those beets were monsters and I brought home enough for a double batch of my favourite recipe for doing beets which comes from Bernardin. Two nights ago the same friend shows up and helps with make eleven jars of beet pickles (doubling the recipe below). Heart to heart conversation while we worked, a light rain started up but never drowned us out as we finished in the fading light of late summer.

Beet & Onion Pickles
Yield: Makes about 5 pint jars
Processing Time: 30 Minutes

8 cups (2000 ml) prepared beets, about 4 lb (1.8 kg)
5 cups (750 ml) sliced onions, about 3 medium
2 -1/2 cups (625 ml) cider vinegar
2 cups (500 ml) granulated sugar
1 -1/2 cups (375 ml) water
1 tbsp (15 ml) mustard seed
1 tsp (5 ml) Each: salt, whole allspice and whole cloves
6 inch (15 cm) cinnamon stick


  • Scrub beets and trim all but 2 inches (5 cm) off stems; do not cut off roots. Cook beets in boiling water, until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from water and allow to cool slightly. Remove skins by easily slipping off beets. Slice into rounds or cut into chunks – however you like them.
  • Combine onions, vinegar, sugar, water, mustard seed, salt, allspice, cloves and cinnamon sticks in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil; boil gently 5 minutes. Add beets and return to a full boil. Remove from heat. Discard cinnamon sticks.
  • Pack beets into a hot jar to within 3/4 inch (2 cm) of top of jar. Add hot liquid to cover beets to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more beets and hot liquid. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining beets and hot liquid.
  • When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), process –boil filled jars – 30 minutes.
  • After cooling check jar seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place.

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