Pickling beets is the favourite way of preserving them in our house. Sometimes I cook them into dishes like ratatouille and lasagne that can be frozen for later. But pickled beets find there way into our meals A LOT. So much so that we simply HAD to grow them in the garden this season.
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Pickled beets is also a super easy way to process and preserve your beets. I learned to pickle vegetables from a chef that I used to work for in Toronto. He was a true visionary when it came to pairing flavours and creative combinations. In his kitchen, pickled veggies would be added to rich meat dishes, salads and cheese plates. His favourites were tiny pickled pearl onions and sweet pickled jalapenos, but he didn’t use beets as frequently as I would have enjoyed.
Fresh From the Garden
I always try to pickle my beets as soon as I can after I harvest them. Though this is a good way to preserve your store bought beets too. Sometimes in the winter, if I have run out of my home pickled beets, I’ll buy a big bag of them and pickle them, with great success.
If you’re harvesting your beets for pickling, start by removing the greens and giving them a good wash. Trim off the long root and any small stringy bits. The next step is to roast the beets. Roasting the beets before hand allows the pickled flavours to fully absorb.
Roast those Beets!
Heat your oven to 400F. If any of the beets are particularly large, cut them in half. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place your washed beets on the tray. Cover the whole tray tightly with tin foil. Roast for about 35 minutes or until they are easily pierced with a knife and the skins are starting to loosen. Once they’re done, let them cool until they can be handled, then peel away the skins with your fingers. You will be very pink fingered after this task!
Next prepare your pickling liquid, and make sure you have enough hot sanitized jars at the ready.
Next, the Pickling Liquid
In my pickling liquid, I use half and half red wine vinegar and sugar. Then I add some chili flakes, peppercorns, and fennel seeds. How much of the spices you add will come down to your personal tastes and how many jars you will be filling. I usually end up making too much. Warm the pickling liquid to a gentle boil.
Slice your peeled beets while the pickling liquid comes to a boil. Fill your jars with the sliced beets, and when the liquid is very hot, divide it among your jars. Use the handle of a spoon to poke any air bubbles out of the jars. Next place a new lid on each jar, and screw on (not super tight. Just enough to keep the lid on) and prepare to water bath seal them
Fill a very large pot with enough water to cover the jars. Bring the water to a very gentle boil before adding the jars. Carefully, using canning tongs, add the jars and allow to simmer for 25 minutes. Allow the jars to cool completely without moving them too much. Once fully cooled, they will keep in your pantry for over a year.
Enjoy in salads, on toast, with charcuterie platters, and basically anywhere you want!