Although you can buy beets all year, they are most tender from June through October. These colorful root vegetables have a sweet, earthy flavor while packing a nutritional punch, with their high potassium, manganese and folate content. You can buy red beets at the grocery store, or visit your local farmer's market or produce stand to shop for golden, white, or pink and white beet varieties. Whatever type of beet you start with, you can easily transform their flavor by pickling them with vinegar and sugar before canning them to preserve them for months to come.
Prepare your canning jars by washing them in the dishwasher or placing them in a pot of boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
Cook the beets. There's no single method that you need to use for this step. Many recipes call for the beets to be boiled in a large pot of water for roughly 30 to 45 minutes until they are tender. Alternatively, you could roast the beets to enhance the beets’ natural sweetness. In boiling, much flavor is lost to the cooking medium. In roasting, essentially a dry-heat method, water evaporates from the beets but flavor compounds remain and are concentrated. Also, some caramelization -- a type of starch-to-sugar conversion -- occurs in roasting.
Allow the beets to cool. In the meantime, rinse out your canning pot and fill it with water. If you don't have a canning pot, you can use a large pot instead. It should have enough room to cover your jars with about 1 to 2 inches of water.
Place a small pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Add the lids for your canning jars and let them soak for about five to 10 minutes.
Combine the ingredients for your pickling solution in a pot and bring it to a boil. The mixture can be as simple as vinegar, salt and sugar or you can add complexity by experimenting with spices such as ginger, cinnamon, allspice, or cloves. Allow the mixture to simmer for about five minutes.
Remove the skin from the beets once they are cool enough to handle. Trim the tops and roots and slice the beets into 1/4-inch rounds.
Add the beets to your pickling solution, allowing them to simmer for five minutes before placing the beets in your canning jars. Allow roughly 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of each jar.
Ladle the pickling liquid into each jar, allowing the 1/2-inch of space at the top and covering the beets.
Place the lids and rings on each canning jar, snugly closing the jars. Use tongs to place each jar in the canner or pot of boiling water. Allow the jars to simmer for about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the jars and allow them to cool.
- The New York Times: Beets: The New Spinach
- Canning, Pickling and Preserving; Kimberly Willis
- PickYourOwn.org: How to Make Homemade Canned Pickled Beets
- Saving the Season; Kevin West
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Using Boiling Water Canners
- Roast beets by placing them placing them in a baking dish with 1/4-inch of water to the dish and cover it tightly with foil. Roast them at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 60 minutes, until the beets are tender.
- Experiment with different flavors by using different types of vinegar and sugar. You can use red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. Switch white sugar for brown sugar to give your beets a deeper flavor.
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