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Preserving a fall harvest is experience like no other, and every home chef should try canning at least once.  Dad’s Canned Pickled Beets is the perfect place to start.  Sweet, vinegary, and fork-tender, these beets will keep you smiling all winter long!

I don’t care what anyone says, it’s the foods you grew up eating which become the comfort food you crave as an adult. And, strangely, it’s the foods that your mom and dad prepared for you that remind you of your childhood, your innocence, and a simpler time.  

I’ve tried dishes that wonderfully talented cooks have prepared, yet, they fail in comparison to the same dish my mom or dad prepared years ago.  Some of those recipes, I’ve taken from my parents and have improved upon them, but for the most part, I leave them just as they are, because as they are is the best they can be!  

This recipe is one of them; a classic pickled beet that my dad still makes to this day.  I’ve not changed it, even though most canning experts will recommend adding cloves or pickling spice, etc.  I cannot bring myself to change something as deliciously simple and satisfying as my dad’s homemade pickled beets.


The hardest part of making this recipe is boiling the beets.  It does take quite some time, and is a perfect recipe for a rainy, cool Saturday afternoon.  Start by washing the beets really well.  Don’t cut off the stem or the tail of the beet no matter how much you want too!  Doing this will allow the beet to drain of it’s natural deep, red colour.  You’ll want to preserve that colour!  Once you’ve properly washed them (I use running cold water and a potato brush), place them into a large pot and cover with cold water.  Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-high.  You can place a lid on the pot to speed up the cooking time, but be careful that the water doesn’t boil over.  The water will turn a dark red and might make quite the mess!

When the beets are fork tender, drain into a large colander and allow them to cool.  In the meantime, in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, the sugar, water, and vinegar.  Stir occasionally and once boiled, reduce to a simmer.

With only your fingers as a tool, apply a mild pressure to the skin of the beet and push to remove the skin.  This takes some patience, depending on how many beets you’ve cooked, but you want to avoid cutting the flesh of the beet away with a knife.  Once done, slice off what is remaining of the stem and the tail, and cut the beets any way you desire.  I like to quarter them and then quarter them again so that they resemble orange sections.  You can slice them too; the choice is yours.


Pack the sliced beets into sterilized mason jars.  (See note on sterilization below.)  I like to use a metal funnel to avoid any of the beets coming into contact with the rim of the jar.  This will help to create a better and safer seal.  Fill the jar with the beets and ladle in the syrup leaving at least 1/4-1/2 inch headspace.  Remove the funnel and place a warmed, sterilized seal on the jar.  (See note on sterilization below.)  Screw on the lid until just snug.  Be careful!  The jar will be hot!  Use a kitchen towel to hold the jar in place as you screw on the lid.

Using a jar lifter, place the filled jars back into the large pot of boiling water.  Be sure the jars are not touching the bottom of the pot.  This might cause the jar to break.  I use a circular cooling rack that fits right into the bottom of my pot.  (If you have a canning pot with a wire jar rack, then you won’t need to worry about this.)  Bring the pot back to a boil and allow the jarred beets to remain in the boiling water for 20 minutes.  Carefully remove the jars and place on a kitchen towel where they will not be disturbed.  As the jars cool, you’ll hear a popping sound.  This is the hot liquid and air in the jar cooling down and contracting.  This will create an air-tight seal and will allow you to store your beets for future consumption.

For best results, I recommend allowing the jars to sit undisturbed for at least 12 hours.  With a damp cloth, wipe down the jars, retighten the lids, and store in a dark, cool place.  These jarred beets will last for 12-18 months.  Lastly, if you notice that a jar has not properly sealed, simply refrigerate that particular jar, and eat them within 5-7 days.  To test whether or not the jars are sealed, lightly press down on the seal.  If the seal pops downward, the sealing process did not work.  To be completely honest, I’ve been canning for many years, and I’ve rarely had this occur.


There you have it!  I always keep a jar in the refrigerator because I like them to be cold.  I often will eat two or three pieces right from the jar like you would a pickle.  I also love to serve them with a turkey dinner in place of the cranberries.  And they are a great addition to a spinach salad with walnuts and feta cheese!


To sterilize your jars, wash the jars well in hot, soapy water.  Rinse the soap off in hot running water and place the clean jars into a large pot of boiling water.  Allow the jars to sit in the boiling water, fully submerged, for at least 5 minutes.  Avoid contact with the inside of the jar when removing it from the pot or when filling it with the cooked beets.  To sterilize the seals and lids, wash them as you did the jars, and boil water in your kettle.  Pour the boiled water into a clean bowl and drop the seals and lids into the water.  Be sure the lids and seals and completely submerged.

Dad's Canned Pickled Beets

Course: Preserves, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 24
Calories: 149 kcal
Author: Lord Byron's Kitchen


  • 10 pounds beets, try to purchase smaller beets; they cook faster and have a better taste
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar


  1. This recipe will make about 6 jars. I like to use a combination of large and small jars so that I can open a jar depending on how many people I’m serving.
  2. Please read the blog post for complete recipe instructions.

Recipe Notes

One serving is about 1/4 cup.

Nutrition Facts
Dad's Canned Pickled Beets
Amount Per Serving
Calories 149
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 149mg 6%
Potassium 614mg 18%
Total Carbohydrates 34g 11%
Dietary Fiber 5g 20%
Sugars 29g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 1.2%
Vitamin C 11.2%
Calcium 3.2%
Iron 8.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. I cannot wait to try these Byron! Here in Florida, we don't usually get fresh beets until the winter...but as soon as I see them at our market, I'm going to get them to try this! I LOVE beets!
  2. Hi Byron, Those are beautiful Pickled Beets, looks like you have a really good recipe. Our Beets will be ready in the garden before long and we will be pickling the beets, there is nothing like home canned! Hope you are having a great day and thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with Full Plate Thursday. Come Back Soon! Miz Helen
  3. Congratulations! Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday today! Hope you have a special day and enjoy your new Red Plate. Come Back Soon! Miz Helen
  4. I'm just doing the round-up for #CreditCrunchMunch but can't see that you've linked to myself for Fuss Free Helen or put the badge? Do tweet me if you can add the links and badge today or I can't include this entry I'm afraid.
  5. When I make my pickled beets I boil them, peel them. have the syrup boiling , put them in hot sterile jars and put the lids on tight, why do recipes say they should go into a hot bath after all that, what is the purpose of that? I have never put mine in a hot bath after sealing?
    1. Hi Earl. I know other canners who follow the same process that you do. I will use the hot water bath method to ensure a proper seal, because when I prepare beets, I like to be assured that they are sealed tightly so that I can store them in my pantry for at least a year.
  6. Hi Byron, It's my first time trying pickled beets and canning for that matter. This may be a stupid question but here it goes ... can you eat the beats as soon as they are canned or you have to let them sit for a few days/weeks/months before they are ready?
    1. Hi Julie! That's not a stupid questions at all. Yes, of course you can eat the beets right away. I would recommend you let the cool down first and come to room temperature. With that said, though, the longer you let the beets sit, the better they will taste.
    1. Hi Susan, It's perfectly safe to water can almost anything that has a high sugar/vinegar content. I never pressure can anything like beets or tomatoes - always water bath canning.
  7. Not sure if this is a silly question but I have a smaller amount of beets but would still like to can what I have. Can I half the brine recipe?
  8. This was my mom's and my grandmother's recipe. I have a hard time eating ones with cloves or other spices because I am used to this simple recipe. In addition to sliced beets or whole if tiny, my grandmother would grate the cooked beets and preserve them with this brine. This 'relish' was for the kids...she would add grated horseradish to some of it for the adults.
  9. Hi,I didn’t see self in this recipe? Is it okay to pickle these without salt? I’m getting ready to do this today and every other recipe I look at has salt in it. Thank you for this recipe.

  10. I grew up eating beets. My momma’s recipe calls for 1 Tbsp. pickling spices (with red pepper flakes). She used the cooked beet liquid instead of water in her recipe, so I do too. Think it adds more flavor.
    1. I've seen them made that way before too. I prefer not to use the cooking liquid because the liquid tends to be quite dirty from the beet skin residue left behind from the boiling process.
  11. Hi, I noticed that you said to avoid cutting with a knife. I'm assuming it's because of a reaction caused by coming into contact with the metal? If so, would it be okay to use a ceramic knife/peeler? As long as you don't mind them being stained, of course.
    1. Hi Stephanie, it wasn't about staining or metal reaction. It's about saving as much of the beet as possible. You don't need to use a knife to get the skin off the beet after boiling. Just hold the cooled beet in your hand and rub the skin lightly with your thumbs. The skin will come right off and you won't be cutting away actual beet by using a knife.
  12. Hello Byron! I just harvested the first of my beets and want to try your recipe but would like to add horseradish instead of the spices. Do you think that will be safe? I made them last year with horseradish and they were delish! but I can't seem to find the recipe I used then. Yours looks pretty great. What do you think? Thanks! Joan
    1. Hi Joan! There are no spices in my recipe, just the water, sugar, and vinegar. If you want to add horseradish, I think it would work very well, and you can even add some whole cloves and star anise as well. I just like my beets plain and simple, just like my dad used to make. :)

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