Golden beets are a pleasure to work with, largely because they’re less likely to stain your fingers, apron, cutting board and countertops. They also make for a dramatic presentation in salads or on your plate without leaving red juice flowing all over everything.
Pickled beets are a favorite breakfast pickle, served right along side fatty foods like hash browns and fried eggs. The sweet tart flavor of the beet balances against heavier foods, helping to round out your breakfast plate.
While I prefer to grow my own or pick them up at the farmers market, these days you’ll likely be able to find them at your local well stocked grocery store, especially in the fall or early winter.
The pickling brine is a mixture of vinegar, water, salt and sugar along with spices. The sugar helps the beets retain their natural sweetness, rather than losing all of their sugars and flavor to the pickling brine. When I made my first batch of pickled beets, I was skeptical about the added sugar in the brine. But fear not! Even though there’s quite a bit of added sugar, the beets themselves don’t taste much sweeter than your average fresh garden beet.
This recipe is adapted from The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. The original recipe has you boil all the spices in the brine and then discard the spices. I prefer to can the beets along with whole allspice and cloves, but I generally don’t use cinnamon sticks. If you’re going to add a cinnamon stick, a whole stick is too much for a single jar. Go ahead and cook the cinnamon stick in with your brine to extract the flavor and then discard. Other spices can be added directly to the jar.
Pickled Golden Beets – Recipe for Canning
Recipe Adapted from The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving
Yield: 4 Pints
4 lbs. Golden Beets
2 Onions, thinly sliced
2 1/2 Cups Vinegar, 5% Acidity (White or Apple Cider)
1 1/4 Cup Water
1 1/4 Cup Sugar
1 tsp. Salt (Pickling and Canning Salt)
16 Whole Allspice Berries
8 Whole Cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick (optional)
1. Trim beets to remove stems and root tips. Scrub clean. Bring beets to a boil in a pot full of water and cook 20-30 minutes until tender. Strain and allow to cool slightly so that you can peel and slice the beets. The peels should slide off easily with finger pressure, no knife needed. Slice or quarter, your choice.
2. Prepare pickling liquid by boiling water, vinegar, sugar and salt. If using, add cinnamon stick and simmer 5 minutes to infuse, then discard cinnamon stick.
3. Pack cooked beets and raw onion slices into wide mouth mason jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. This recipe should fill 4 wide mouth pint jars. Add 2 whole cloves and 4 allspice berries to each jar.
4. Ladle hot brine over beets, onions and spices leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Apply lids and bands, and process in a water bath canner for 30 minutes, adjusting for altitude.