Beets come in all shapes and sized, from dark red and pink striped to light orange and everything in between. We used a bunch of gorgeous organic Chioggia beets from the farmer’s market. Chioggia beets are recognizable by their distinctive pink and white striped flesh. Unfortunately, the stripes don’t stand out very much after you’ve cooked your beets in preparation for pickling, so if you’re hoping for the bright fuschia color that some pickled beets have, make sure you choose the dark red variety.
Here’s what you need to do to start pickling some tasty beets:
STEP 1: Gather your ingredients
- One or more bunches organic beets (6-8 small beets will fill two jelly-jar sized canning jars; double that for a large quart-size jars
- White vinegar
- Sugar and salt
- Cinnamon and cloves
- Canning jars or clean, sterilized recycled jars (salsa jars work well)
STEP TWO: Trim, boil and dice
Trim off the leafy beet greens and set them aside – they are a delicious and iron-packed veggie that tastes great sauteed with a little lemon and butter!
Drop the beets into a saucepan of water and bring them to a boil. Simmer the beets for about thirty minutes, or until soft all the way through (you can test with the tip of a sharp knife or a fork). Save the beet cooking liquid, which you’ll use to make the pickling liquid.
Peel and dice the beets. Once cooled, the peels should come right off in your hands. Dice the beets into wedges or coins, as you prefer.
STEP THREE: Prepare the pickling liquid
Here is where you’ll need to determine how many jars of beets you want to make. We fit about 6 small beets in a 10-ounce canning jar along with about 2/3 cup of pickling liquid. To make two small jelly-jars of beets, you’ll need about 2/3 cup liquid and about 6-8 beets, and to make a quart size jar, you’ll need 1 cup of liquid and about 14-16 small beets (adjust accordingly depending on the size of the beets you have).
Now that you know how much pickling liquid to prepare, all you need to know is that the ratio of beet cooking liquid to white vinegar is 1:1 (so for a quart jar, you’ll measure out 1/2 cup of the beet cooking liquid and add another 1/2 cup of white vinegar). In a bowl, measure out your white vinegar and warm beet cooking liquid that you saved earlier. Add in 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt per half cup of liquid. Add a few cloves, and either a cinnamon stick or a 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the mix. Stir the liquid until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
STEP FOUR: Jar the beets
Jar the beets and pour the pickling liquid right up to the very lip of the jar, making sure to cover the beets completely. Place a piece of parchment paper over the beets and screw on the lid. Pop them into the fridge and wait three days so you can do your first taste-test!
Here are some fun additions and variations you can try:
Have dark red beets? Add thinly sliced rings of onion to add a spicy flavor and score some hot-pink onions to boot. Add more sugar and less salt for a sweeter beet that tastes great with cheese and in salads. Add fresh ginger slices for a spice-infused pickled beet that works well with Asian-inspired dishes.