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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Cooking and Produce


Beets Add Variety to Table: Plain, Fancy or Pickled!

Karma Metzgar, C.F.C.S. Former Northwest Regional Nutrition Specialist, Nodaway County Extension Center, University of Missouri Extension


Our “baby” beets are ready for harvest! While we won’t have a huge crop, we’ll have several meals worth. We like our beets buttered. Sometimes I harvard them (thicken the sauce). Others like them pickled. Pickling beets is easy and if you have any left you can can them.

I had a question the other day about pickling beets. The person didn’t care to can, but had beets in the garden and loved pickled beets. I suggested storing a batch of pickled beets in the refrigerator instead of canning.

I’m sharing the recipe and directions for pickled beets from the University of Missouri Extension guide Pack a Pickled Product (GH 1459). If you would like this guide, which also has information on sauerkraut, dilled beans, pickled cauliflower, corn relish, dilled okra, pickled peppers, pickled zucchini, and refrigerator pickles, call your local extension center. Or, access the guide on the web at:


Pickled Beets
(Yield: About 8 pints)

7 pounds beets, 2 to 2 (two and one-half) inches around for slicing, or 1 to 1 (one and one-half) inches for whole
4 cups vinegar (5 percent)
1 1/2 teaspoons (one and one-half) canning or pickling salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
4 to 6 onions, 2 to 2-1/2 (two and one-half) inches around (optional)

Procedure: Trim off beet tops. Leave 1 to 2 inches of stem and roots to prevent color from bleeding. Wash beets thoroughly and sort them by size. Cook similar sizes together by covering them with boiling water and cooking until tender (about 25 to 30 minutes).

Drain and discard liquid. Cool beets. Trim off roots and stems and slip off skins. Slice in -inch slices. Peel and thinly slice onions.

Mix vinegar, salt, sugar and fresh water. Put spices in cheesecloth bag or paper coffee filter bag and add to vinegar mixture.

Bring to a boil and add beets and onions. Simmer five minutes. Remove spice bag. Fill jars with beets and onions. Leave one-half inch headspace. Add hot vinegar mixture, and leave one-half inch headspace. Adjust lids and process 35 minutes in a boiling water bath for pints or quarts.

If you don’t want to process the pickles, store in the refrigerator up to one month.

If you find pickles too tart, it’s best to add more sugar, than to mess with the acid ingredient - vinegar. The level of acid in a pickled product is as important to its safety as it is to its taste and texture. Do not change the amounts of vinegar, food or water in a recipe. Don’t use a vinegar with unknown acidity. Only use recipes with research-tested amounts of ingredients like those found in extension guides.







Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009




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