How to Can and Preserve Beets

Canning has seen a wonderful revival over the last couple of years. When you have indoor space and gardening is a hobby, canning seems like a very natural fit.
Related To:

Botanical Names: Beta vulgaris

Canning beets can be a great way to preserve the taste of summer for the fall and winter months. When indoors space isn’t limited, canning is a natural fit for those who are already gardening.

Here is what is needed to start your canning project:

  • Beets! 5 lbs. or more depending on your use
  • Canning or pickling salt (typically can be found in bulk sections of the grocery store)
  • Jars including lids and rings
  • Jar holder
  • Saucepans (1 large)
  • Ladle
  • Potato scrubber

Do in Advance: Sanitize your jars, lids and rings by either putting them in the dishwasher on the “sanitize cycle” or by boiling them for 10 minutes. If using old jars, make sure that all the lids are sealing properly or all your work will go to waste as they will not store. This will be discussed in “Step 8” below.

Step One: Select your beets

If you have grown your beets, you’re already done with this step. When purchasing beets, it is important to look for those that have healthy greens. The root should be firm. If there are any bruised or soft areas, they will not preserve well and should be composted.

Step Two: Prepare your beets

With beets being grown in the dirt, it is best to give them a deep scrub by using a potato scrubber or something similar. Once they are cleaned to desired, take a knife and ONLY remove the greens. Leave about 2 to 3 inches of stem from the top of the root. This will help to avoid any bleeding of color. The greens can be stored and used in lieu of spinach or Swiss chard in recipes (link to other article on beet greens).

Step Three: Cook your beets 

Place in a large saucepan (or pressure cooker), fill with water until it is slightly covering the top of the beets. Typically, it will take to 45 minutes to an hour before the beets become tender over medium heat to have a consistent boil. Cook until knife can pierce through. If using a pressure cooker, the time is drastically reduced to 10 to 15 minutes.

Step Four: Drain beets and cool

This can either be done by letting them cool naturally in the refrigerator or by placing them in a bowl of iced water. Either method is acceptable – it mostly has to do with your time limits with the project. During this time, prepare your canner so that it is ready when all the beets are jarred. Follow the instructions from the manual here.

Step Five: Skin and dice

Once the beets are cool and ready to handle remove skins and cut to desired thickness and shape. While cutting the beets, place your large saucepan back on the store and boil a fresh pot of water to fill the canning jars. At this time, canning or pickling salt can be adding to the boiling water estimating about 1 teaspoon per jar. Fill canning jars with cut beets leaving 3/4" to 1" space at the top of each jar. This is called headspace and is left to adjust for expanding during the heating process. Take water that is currently boiling on store and place into jars – again leaving the noted headspace above, but making sure that the beets are fully covered. Take extreme caution while doing this to not burn yourself.

Step Six: Add tops

Place lids and rings on all jars tightly. With your jar tongs, pick up and place all in your canner. The water in your canner should be 3 to 4 inches thick. Once the canner is full, place the lid on and twist; leaving the weight off. For 10 minutes, let the stream escape, then put the weight on.

Step Seven: Heat

For a dial-type canner, get the pressure to 11 and then start timing. Adjust heat as needed to reach this desired number. Typically, it will take about 30 to 35 minutes when it comes to pint and quart jars, but canners vary some. At this point, it is important to consult your owner’s manual to know the specifics. They can almost always now be found online.

Step Eight: Cool

Let canner cool until zero – do not rush the process! This can take about an hour or more. Moving onto another task will do the trick. Once cool, remove the jars and place on counter to cool overnight. During this time, the jars should pop. To confirm they have sealed, gently press your finger in the center of the lid. If it moves up and down, the jar is not sealed. A new lid and ring can be used to reseal it and repeating the process – or it can be used right away for meals.

This eighth step process can be used for canning many different vegetables and fruits. Enjoy your preserved harvest when the garden is covered in snow.

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