I love rainbow beets. Every summer I have great intentions of roasting beets, slicing them thin and enjoying them with a little (or a lot) of goat cheese and honey. And every year, I remember that its hot, I do not have central air, and running the oven warms up the entire house. So I end up pickling them for salads. This week I have two bunches of beets that are different sizes so I wanted to try something different with pickling these beets. The larger bunch is from the Thursday Night Farmers Market, they were bright and I couldn’t resist. The smaller bunch is from my CSA from my friend’s farm. The larger beets are going to be roasted in the oven while the smaller beets will be cooked in the Instant Pot. But today, I am Canning Pickled Beets.
Peeling & Cooking Beets
I have tried a number of ways to peel and cook beets over the years. The easiest way that I have found is to chop the greens off leaving 2-4 inches of stem, wrap each beet in tin foil, toss it in the oven. I roast the beets for 40 minutes at 400 degrees F. When the beets are done cooking, the skin falls right off with a soft push. Note, these are hot when they come out of the oven, and will bleed onto your hands, I tend to wear gloves when handling oven-fresh beets so I do not dye my hands purple or orange. You’ve been warned.
Last night I made French Potted Yogurt so my Instant Pot Ultra is still on the counter. I decided to use the Instant Pot to steam and pressure cook the beets. To do this, I put the rack in the bottom of the pressure cooker with about 1 cup of water before arranging the beets on the rack. Setting the Instant Pot to “Pressure” and “20 minutes on High” I closed the lid, hit start, and walked away. Since these beets are so tiny, smaller than a golf ball, I am not going to cut these up to pickle. They will be peeled and put directly into the jars and covered with brine.
Other ways to cook beets include boiling them for longer periods of time and steaming them. One video I watched on YouTube steamed his larger beets for 3 hours. I do not have this time and will not be steaming my beets in that fashion. A great tip about boiling beets, layer the beets in the pot by putting the largest beets on the bottom of the pot and the smallest beets at the bottom. This way you can pull the smaller beets out of the pot when they are ready and allow the bigger beets to keep cooking. Additionally, it allows you to process the beets as they cool and you can use your time better. Boiling your beets takes a LONG time. The oven and instant pot are faster!
Canning Pickled Beets
I tend to use a basic brine for a lot of my pickles. I like the vinegar, sweet, salty approach with a little bit of whole spices put in. Is this the only recipe for pickle brine? No. Can you customize it to your tastes? Absolutely. Can you use larger jars? Sure! I use 8 oz jars because we do not usually eat them fast. I’ll add a few beets into a salad for a pop of color, then they will sit in my fridge on the door until the next time I remember I have beets. We once bought a 36 oz jar of thin-sliced pickled beets, it lasted in our fridge for over a year.
Building Flavor in the Jars
No one ever said the only thing that goes in the jar is brine and one vegetable. You can build thousands of combinations based on what you like eating. I tend to play with the rule of “if I would serve it together, I can pickle it together.” That is why I am thinly slicing onions and garlic to add to my jars.
If you steamed or boiled the beets, save that liquid. Strain about 2 cups of this liquid and set it aside. Top it off with more water if needed. Use this in the brine because it has the flavor from the beets already in in it. so it can add to the flavor of the brine.
Do I have to use White Vinegar? NO! You can use red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or any other vinegar you like. Each vinegar will add different flavors to the final product. Play around and see what you like. In my Simple Pickled Hakurei Japenese Salad Turnips, I use Rice Wine Vinegar in the pickling solution. The combinations are endless. Make what you want to eat.
Canning the Beets
Remember to keep the jars, and brine HOT while building the flavors in the jar. Be sure to keep the jars in the water bath while you are slicing and skinning the vegetables.
The possibilities of spices and herbs that you can add when you are canning pickled beets is endless! Let me know what you add beyond Rosemary, and Pepper.
If you’re new to canning, be sure to check out my Introduction to Canning.
Canned and Pickled Beets
- Canning Kit
- Half Pint Jars
- Optional: Instant Pot
- Large stock pot
- Sauce Pot
- 2 Bunches Beets
- 2 Cup Vinegar Any Kind
- 1 Cup Water
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 2 tbsp Salt
- 4 Sprigs Rosemary
Roasting Beets in the Oven
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Wrap each beet in tin foil and place on cookie tray.
- Roast beets for 40 – 50 minutes until beets are fork-tender. Skin will fall off when pushed.
Cooking Beets in Instant Pot
- Place rack in the bottom of the Instant Pot and add 1 cup of water. Arrange beets on the rack in one layer.
- Set the Instant Pot to 15 minutes on pressure cook. Allow to cook and release pressure when done.
- Place 4 half-pint (8 oz) jars in a water bath canner and simmer.
- Remove skins from beets by pushing skins off with your thumb. Wear gloves if available to prevent beets from dying your hands purple. Chop beets to the desired size.
- In a small saucepan, heat together water, vinegar, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil.
- In hot jars, put a spring of thyme and peppercorns in each jar and fill each jar with beets. If you are using rainbow beets, you can sort them by shade or mix them together. Purple Beets will dye anything canned with it.
- Fill jars with hot vinegar liquid. Wipe jars with clean rag and vinegar before adding lids and rings to the jars.
- Process jars in a water bath for 10 minutes at a full boil. Allow to cool on a rag over night before labeling, removing the ring jars and storing.