Canning beets is a great way to preserve these lucious pink veggies. It's also a great way to stain your hands blood red. But hey, no one said canning beets wasn't messy!
With beets, you either hate 'em or love 'em. I have vivid memories of sitting at my great-grandma's dinner table and eating her famous pickled beets when I was little; and although I didn't hate them, I certainly didn't love them.
The beet "lovers" in my family are my dad and sister. Especially my dad! He was so excited when we made pickled beets for the first time - he absolutely loved them.
How much to buy?
About 7 pounds of 2 - 2 1/2 inch diameter beets makes approximately 8 pints; 21 pounds will make approximately 7 quarts.
How to choose your beets
Wheither you buy them at the store or grow them yourself, the rule must always be the same: fresh and crisp. Beets that are soft, soggy, and rotting will not can well. Try to choose beets that are about 2 - 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
1. Snip ends - both ends. You don't want the root or the stem, so cut them both off.
2. Wash your beets. Especially if they are fresh from the garden (which our's were), there will be a lot of dirt on them. It's very important to scrub all of this off before canning beets. Use a soft sponge or a vegetable brush for this job.
3. Now that your beets are clean, you will now cook them. If you've never noticed, beets are very hard and tough! Boiling them will make them soft enough to slice.
Place the beets in a large soup pot filled with water, and boil them until they are tender. This usually takes about 30 - 45 minutes. Once they're soft, go ahead and drain the water off them. Discard the "beet water"; you do not want to can it.
4. Time to get messy! :-) Once your beets have cooled off, (you can speed this process up by soaking them in ice water), start peeling your beets. The skins will be nice and soft, so you can either peel the skins by hand, or use a peeler.
We used a peeler, as we found that the skins were a littler harder to peel off by hand than we thought. But they're still pretty soft, after being boiled for so long.
5. Slice your beets. Not too thin, but not too thick either. If you slice them paper thin they are likely to fall apart later. A good, solid slice is slightly thicker than 1/4 inch.
6. A good pickled beets recipe always calls for sliced onions, so do that now. Slice onions very thinly, and pull apart into indiviual rings.
7. Fill your clean
with your sliced beets and onions, leaving 3/4 to 1 inch headspace.