You either hate beets or you love ’em. But learning how to pickle beets is about to put you into the latter camp—and take beets from side dish to mealtime star. Pickling beets (either quickly in the fridge or with a traditional canning method) results in a nutrition-dense veggie with sweet, tangy flavors that’s perfect for salads, entree garnishes or even a snack.
Before You Start: Tips for Pickling Beets
Choose Fresh Beets
One of the keys to a good beet is its color. It should be a deep, vibrant red. Look for roots that have no blemishes, bruises or soft spots. Remove the greens once you get home to preserve moisture in the beet.
Avoid picking beets any larger than medium size, or about 2-1/2 inches in diameter. These can have tough cores and are less enjoyable to eat.
While both white and apple cider vinegar can be used, apple cider will yield the best flavor. Look for brands that are 5% acidity, and avoid unfiltered varieties, which may leave sediment in your beets.
Your apple cider vinegar can do more than just pickle vegetables. Check out some of its unexpected uses.
Add Your Own Ingredients
Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, get creative with what makes an appearance in your jars. Everything from onion to hard boiled eggs (we’ll help you make a perfect one), cabbage and thin lemon slices can impart delicious, unique flavors.
How to Pickle Beets (Quick-Pickling Method)
- 8 medium fresh beets
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
- 1-1/2 teaspoons whole allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Step 1: Clean and boil
First, you’ll need to prep your veggies. Scrub the beets and trim the tops down to 1 inch. (Don’t toss the greens, though. They’re edible.) Place in a Dutch oven and add water to cover. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 25-30 minutes or until tender. Remove the beets from water and let cool. Peel beets and slice; place in a bowl and set aside.
Step 2: The final combination
Then, prepare the brine mixture. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, cloves, allspice and salt. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Pour the mixture over beets. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Drain before serving.
How to Pickle Beets (Canning Method)
- 3 pounds small fresh beets
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
Step 1: Cook beets
Once again, you’ll start by cooking the beets. Scrub the roots and trim the tops down to 1 inch. Place in a Dutch oven and add water to cover. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 25-30 minutes or until tender. Remove from water; cool. Peel beets and cut into fourths.
Step 2: Cook beets, the remix
Next, place the beets back in the Dutch oven. Add the sugar, water and vinegar. Place the spices on a double thickness of cheesecloth, bringing up the corners of the cloth and tying with string to form a bag. Add the bag to your beet mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Discard the spice bag. Learn more about how to cook beets here.
Step 3: Prepare for canning
Carefully pack beets into four, hot 1-pint jars within 1/2 an inch of the top. Then, ladle the hot liquid over beets, leaving 1/2 an inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more hot mixture. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars, then screw on bands until fingertip tight.
Step 4: Boil and store
Place jars into canner with simmering water, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil; process for 35 minutes. Remove jars and cool. New to canning? You’ll want to check out our complete guide.
How to Store Pickled Beets
Preserved beets store well in the fridge and can be eaten chilled. Store them tightly covered, and they can last up to three months.