Pickled Beets

After being gone for almost a week doing this, then telling you all about it in words, after promising you that I would post pictures … then promising again, here they are.  Pictures of most of the process.  I forgot to take pictures of the actual canning part.  Just imagine a water bath canner sitting on the stove.  That is pretty much what the picture would be.  Exciting isn’t it?  Well, now on to actual pictures.

I decided to pickle the beets for a few reasons.  The top two are: 1. We like pickled beets and 2. By pickling them I was able to use a boiling water bath canner, not a pressure canner.

Here is the recipe and directions I used for Pickled Beets.

These are from the first peck of beets I had, or what is left.  The rest were already in the pot for the initial cooking.  These, and the ones in the pot, resulted in my first 5 jars.

Here are 7 more pecks I got to can.  These are the beets responsible for the next 22 jars.

To get the skins off of beets, you have to cook/boil them for about 45 minutes.  This was by far the longest part of the canning and what made the whole process take so long.  After the first peck, I put my canner to use as a regular pot.  That helped the process, but also delayed me actually being able to can the cooked beets.  (Below is not my canner, but the pot I used the first time before switching to my canner.)

Now, I also didn’t take a picture of the next step, as my hands were covered in beet juice.  After the beets cooked, I put them into the sink to cool off a bit.  Since I had so many, I then refilled the pots with water and started the next batch cooking.

After the pots had been refilled with water and beets, I then returned to the beets in the sink.  By this point were cool enough to handle.

I finally got my groove and this was the result:

  1. pick up a beet
  2. cut off the tops
  3. cut off the roots
  4. slide off the skin (all 3 parts went into a large bowl)
  5. sit the beet on a cutting board.

I then repeated the steps with the next beet.  I never actually used the cutting board; just cut them while holding them.  The cutting board was to contain any juice and keep them from staining the counter.

If you actually  have a very sharp knife don’t do the cutting in your hand, for obvious reasons.  The beets should also be soft enough that you don’t have to actually cut, just press.  If anything, I had trouble keeping the skins on while I cut the roots and stems.

Once my cutting board was full of beets, I turned to slicing them.  Now, my mom likes to cube hers’.  Why?  Well, that is the way her mom did it.  I slice mine.  Why?  Because that is the way they come in the cans at the store.  Which is right?  I don’t know.

Back to slicing … I sliced them about 1/4 inch thick.  Now, remember what I was using my canner for?  Right, a pot.  Not a canner at this point.  So I placed the cut beets in a large bowl.  When it was full, I placed a lid or plastic wrap on top and stuck it in the fridge.  This worked out well and I will probably do the same thing next time.  Just not with 7 pecks all at once.  Maybe just two or three.

These are 22 of the 27 jars that resulted from the 7 pecks.

I did have enough sense to clean up before taking the picture.  What was it like?  Imagine canning stuff, drops of beet juice, towels to sit hot jars on, towels to sit under jars being filled, big bowl of cut off pieces, etc.  Just regular canning stuff.  I tried to keep it all on the space next to the stove, which did limit the space I used.  This also meant that half of my sink was full of dirty dishes.  Why not put them in the dishwasher?  There were canning jars in there, of course.

Now, I did take a picture of one mess, just because I wanted to use it as a warning.  If you decide to can this many at a time, or if you try to can in a pot that is too small for the number of beets you put in it, well, this will be the result.  Those are canning and cooking liquids (beet colored water) that spilled over in the process.  Add in 30-45 minutes of time for canning or cooking on a gas stove, the result is cooked on liquid.  It wasn’t hard to get off, just a big mess.  I was glad to not have a flat top though.

One last confession.  Besides, you saw my dirty stove so we are all friends now.  I did not grow the beets.  I got them from someone else for a decent price.  It was worth it for me at the stage of life I am in now.  Also, I don’t have the space to grow as many beets as I want.

The end result was 32 jars of pickled beets.  This is about 20 jars shy of the minimum I wanted for the upcoming year.  Beets are not a thing of the past for me yet.

I estimated that each quart cost me between $.50 and $1.  $.50 just for the beets, the rest for gas, sugar, spices, lids, etc.