How to Can Pickled Beets the Easy Way
Beets are not the most popular vegetable due to their potent, earthy flavor. However, they are loaded with nutrients that can be invaluable during a long-term survival or off-the-grid situation. Canning beets can give you a supply that can last up to two years, and this is a great way to preserve them after harvest.
All you need is about 8 lbs of beets, 3 cups of apple cider vinegar and 4 cups of sugar. You will also need a sharp knife, large stockpot and a handful of canning jars and lid assemblies. You don’t need to use a pressure or water bath canner for this recipe. However, the jars will need to be sterilized and heated before placing the processed beets inside.
Preparing the Beets
The first step is to take your freshly-harvested beets and cut the stems until about ½ inch remains. You don’t need to cut the tails. Give them a good scrub and rinse and place the beets into the stockpot. Fill with water and place on the stove, over medium heat until the water begins to boil. Reduce heat to a low boil or high simmer and let cook for about 45-80 minutes. The amount of time that it takes to cook the beets will depend on their size. You want to keep the stems and tails intact in order to prevent the beets from cracking and leeching into the water.
You are aiming to cook the beets enough to be tender but not soggy. They will absorb moisture while in storage, so par-cooking the beets will produce a heartier and more satisfying finished product later. However, you do want them to be tender enough to eat after cooking as well. This will also make it easier to peel off the skins.
Once the beets are tender, remove from heat and drain the water from the stockpot. Allow the beets to cool until they can be handled without getting burned.
Remove the skin and cut off the stems and roots. Cut the beets into slices or chunks that are less than ½ inch thick and place in the stockpot again.
The next step is to add the vinegar and water and put the stockpot back on the stove over medium heat. Give the beets a good stir to mix everything together and bring them to a simmer. Make sure that the liquid reaches the top of the beets. If you need more, just proportionally add more sugar and vinegar. Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved. At the same time, start heating your canning jars and lid assemblies.
Filling and Packaging the Jars
Keep the pot simmering as you start to ladle the beets and juices into the canning jars. You can use quart or pint jars, but portion the beets so that they can be consumed after being opened in order to minimize waste. Fill each jar with beets and liquid until ½ inch of headspace remains.
Wipe down the tops of the jars to remove any gunk or sticky juices and attach the lid assemblies. Allow the jars to cool to room temperature overnight.
Inspect the lids and seals the next morning before labeling and dating the finished product. Store the jars in a cool and dark place. This method should allow you to keep the beets fresh for up to two years, but you should try to rotate out and consume the stock within a year, as with most canned items, for optimal freshness and nutrient content.