We are fortunate to be able to grow beets most of the year here.  A truly fresh beet, straight from the garden, has a wonderful, sweet, complex, earthy flavor.  The natural sugars are enhanced in a fresh oven-roasted beet, which in my opinion is the best way to enjoy one.  Although some of the milder beets, like Chioggas and Golden beets, are wonderful raw, shaved thinly over salads.

You can pickle any beets, even these golden ones

If you’re growing your own beets they’re likely to do so well in most gardens, that like us, you may suffer periods of ‘beet-burnout’.  So if you need a break from beets, the logical thing to do with some of the extras is to put them up for those few potentially beet-less winter months.

Pickled Golden Beets

These beets are highly aromatic, and have a wonderfully unique flavor.  This recipe makes a small batch, perfect for adding a few exotically flavored beets to your pantry stores for winter.

Whole Cloves

Cardamom can be a little expensive, but this recipe doesn’t use a lot.  I recommend only buying as much as you will need though, as it loses its potency very quickly when stored.

Cardamom pods should still have a greenish color, if they’re brown, they’re old, and should not be used

Yield: Makes 4 Wide-Mouth 16fl oz (500 ml) jars

1 lb (500 g) Beets, any variety
1 White Onion, sliced
3 Cups  (500 ml) of reserved cooking liquid from the beets
1 1/2 Cups (375 ml) Apple Cider Vinegar, 5% acidity
1/3 Cup Sugar (84 g), or to taste
1 Tbsp Whole Cardamom Pods
1 Tbsp Whole Cloves
Pinch of Salt

Have 4 hot, sterilized jars (wide-mouth preferred) and their lids ready (see video below for tips on preparing your jars for canning).

Trim the green tops from the beets, leaving an inch of stem to prevent the color from bleeding excessively, and place them into a large saucepan. I find a 6-8 quart pasta pot with a strainer-insert works very well.  Note, if using different colored beets, separate them by color into separate pans, and keep them separated throughout the pickling process!  Add enough water to cover the beets by 2 inches, and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the beets are just tender, 25-30 minutes.  If your beets are variable in size, you may need to pull the smaller beets before the large ones are done to avoid over-cooking them.

Drain the beets, reserving 3 cups of the cooking liquid, and set them aside briefly to cool.  When the cooked beets are cool enough to handle, peel them by simply slipping off their skins with your fingertips.  Trim any remaining tops and roots, and cut the beets into slices 1/4 inch thick.

Divide the beets and onion slices evenly between the jars.

In a medium saucepan combine the reserved cooking liquid, vinegar, sugar, cardamom, cloves, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring, until the sugar has just dissolved.

Pickled Golden Beets

Ladle the hot vinegar mixture into each of the jars, evenly distributing the spices as much as possible, and leave 1/2 inch of head-space.  Remove any air bubbles and adjust the head-space as needed.  Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.

Pickled Red Beets

Process the jars for 7 minutes in a boiling water bath.  Leave the jars to stand undisturbed for 24 hours and then set them aside for at least 1 week before opening to allow the flavors to develop.  Store sealed jars in a dark place for up to 3 months.  If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Don’t have your own beets?  It’s not too late to plant them for fall in this area, and there are a number of varieties worthy of trying beyond the standard red beets.  If you can’t grow them, many Farmer’s Markets are absolutely brimming with them!


The following helpful video demonstrates the boiling-water bath canning technique, including basic required equipment, and how to prepare your jars and lids for canning:

Visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation for more helpful information on canning home produce.