Canning beets is an easy way to preserve them for year-round use. Pull out the pressure canner and can plain beets for salads, soups, or just tasty snacks.
Beets are absolutely perfect for canning, and they hold up to the high temps of a pressure canner beautifully. In truth, it’s actually tricky to tell the difference between a freshly cooked beet and a canned one.
Once canned, beets are ready to eat right out of the jar. I drain them and toss with a bit of homemade feta cheese and a splash of balsamic vinegar for a quick, satisfying salad.
Pressure Canning Beets
Canning beets at home is pretty simple if you’re familiar with how to use a pressure canner.
Beets are a low acid vegetable, and they cannot be canned in a water bath canner. At least so long as you’re canning plain beets.
If you don’t have a pressure canner, try making pickled beets instead, which are canned in a salty vinegar brine. The vinegar acidifies the vegetables enough for water bath canning, but it also really changes their flavor. Pickled beets are tasty as a condiment, but they won’t make a meal.
Personally, I think Canning plain beets is much more versatile, and you can always toss them in salt and vinegar later if you want that tangy flavor.
How to Can Beets
The first step in canning beets is cooking and peeling the roots. Give the beets a quick wash, and then boil them for 15 to 30 minutes (depending on size), until they’re fully cooked through. Test with a fork and drain the beets once a fork can pierce through to the center.
You could spend all afternoon peeling raw beets with a knife, but once cooked skin will just rub right off with your fingers.
Allow the drained beets to cool enough to handle and then rub the skins off the roots.
The peels have a bitter flavor and taste a bit like dirt, so it’s important to rub the peels off before packing the beets into jars.
Generally, large beets store well in the refrigerator or root cellar. They’ll keep for months sealed in the crisper, or in a humid cool basement. The larger ones also tend to be more fibrous and don’t taste quite as good as baby beets. The problem is, baby beets really don’t keep outside of canning.
It’s your choice, whether canning baby beets or larger beets. Small beets, under 2 inches in diameter can be peeled and canned whole. Larger beets need to be chopped into cubes or sliced into 1/2 inch slices.
Once peeled, sliced, and prepared, beets are packed into canning jars leaving 1-inch headspace.
Adding salt when pressure canning beets is completely optional, but you can add about 1/2 teaspoon salt to a pint or a teaspoon to a quart. (Or less, adjust to your taste.)
Personally, I just can them plain in water and salt when I’m cooking with them. That works out well when I’m serving them with salty things like feta because then the finished dish isn’t too salty together.
Add the salt directly into the jar if using, and then pour boiling water over the beets, still leaving 1-inch headspace.
(Use clean, freshly boiled water to pack the beets, not the water you used to cook them initially. That will have an off flavor infused into it from the beet skins.)
Cap the jars with 2 part canning lids and load them into a prepared pressure canner.
Be sure to prepare the pressure canner according to the manufacturer’s directions, as they all work slightly differently. I’m using an All-American Pressure Canner, which has you add 2-3 inches of water to the bottom of the canner and warm it to a simmer. A trivet is placed under the jars, then the jars are loaded in.
Then seal up the top, but don’t add the canning weight right away. Allow the canner to vent for 10 minutes at high heat to ensure that the chamber is full of steam, then add the canning weight and allow it to come up to pressure.
Once it’s up to pressure, process beets at pressure for 30 minutes for pints and 35 minutes for quarts. The pressure used depends on your elevation as shown in the table below.
You’ll see that the total processing time doesn’t change, just the pressure.
Once the beets have been at pressure for either 30 minutes for pints or 35 for quarts, turn off the heat and allow the pressure canner to cool naturally.
(This should take several hours, don’t try to rush it.)
After the canner has fully cooled, remove the jars and check seals. Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use.
Properly pressure canned beets should maintain best quality on the pantry shelf for 12-18 months.
Ways to Preserve Beets
Looking for more ways to preserve beets? Canning is my favorite option, but there are plenty of other ways to put up a bumper crop of beets.
Pressure canning plain beets is an easy way to preserve beets for long term storage. They're cooked and ready to go for your favorite meals right from the pantry.
- Salt (optional)
- Prepare a pressure canner following the manufacturer's directions. (For most models that means ~ Add water to the bottom, insert trivet, and bring it to a simmer on the stove.)
- Remove tops and tails, and then wash beets.
- Boil beets for 15 to 30 minutes, based on size, until they're fully cooked through. Test with a fork to ensure they're tender all the way through.
- Strain the beets and allow them to cool slightly until they're cool enough to handle.
- Rub the skins off the beets with your hands, and rinse them clean.
- Pack beets into prepared canning jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Small beets, under 2 inches in diameter, can be packed whole into jars. Larger beets should be sliced into 1/2 inch slices.
- Add salt, if desired. (See note below)
- Bring clean fresh water to a boil and pour it over the top of the beets in the canning jars, still leaving 1-inch headspace.
- Remove any air bubbles, adjust headspace, and then cap with 2 part canning lids.
- Place the jars in a pressure canner on the trivet and cap the lid.
- Allow the canner to vent seam for 10 minutes before sealing with the appropriate weight (or follow the directions on your canner model).
- Allow the canner to come up to pressure, then turn down the heat to maintain the appropriate pressure. Process jars for 30 minutes (pints) or 35 minutes (quarts). See notes for pressure by elevation.
- Once the canning time has completed, turn off the heat and allow the canner to cool completely before opening.
- Remove jars and check seals. Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use.
Properly canned sealed jars of home-canned beets should maintain quality on the pantry shelf for 12-18 months.
Altitude Adjustments ~ Pressure canning times remain the same with altitude changes, but the pressure needs to increase at higher altitudes.
Using a weighted gauge canner below 1000 feet, beets are canned at 10 pounds pressure. Above 1000 feet, increase pressure to 15 pounds.
With a dial gauge canner, use 11 pounds pressure below 2,000 feet. For 2000-4000 feet, increase to 12 pounds. For 4,000 to 6,000 increase to 13 pounds, and for 6,000 to 8,000 to 14 pounds.
Quantity ~ The total yield will vary slightly based on the size of your beets and how they're packed, but it takes roughly 20 to 22 pounds of beets for a canner load of 7 quarts. A canner load of 9 pints requires roughly 13 to 15 pounds of beets. (Weighed without tops.)
Salt ~ Salt is optional, and not required for preservation when pressure canning beets. If desired for flavor, add up to 1/2 teaspoon per pint or 1 teaspoon per quart.
Pressure Canner Recipes
Once you’ve got your beets canned, keep your pressure canner rocking with these pressure canner recipes:
Fall Canning Recipes
Preserving more than beets this fall? I’ve got literally hundreds of canning recipes, and here are a few great ones for the autumn season.
- Canning Apple Pie Filling
- Canning Apple Cider
- Canning Applesauce
- Pear Jam
- Canning Tomatillos
- Husk Cherry Jam