Ah, pickled beets. These purple beauties are most certainly a taste of my childhood as my Grandma canned beets in great numbers. Unlike most children, I have loved beets since I was a young ‘un running around my Grandma's Manitoba farm in the hot summer sun.
I could have eaten them from the jar happily all day long, but alas, these were a truly coveted treat, usually reserved for big family dinners along with a wild duck or a beautiful venison roast.
Now that I've taken on the canning and preserving role that my Grandmother did for so many years, I understand why they weren't simply a snack for hungry children's bellies and I was shooed out to the garden to find something else.
Canning is hot, sweaty, nasty at moments darn hard work.
Oh yes, Pinterest and so many other websites make it look so glamorous and easy to boot! Suzy Homesteader in her little white chef's kitchen, canning away merrily all day long, children sitting nicely at the table and the house so perfectly clean around you.
Every single, stinking one of them.
Canning is messy. Canning takes an organized mind-which I sadly lack some days- and canning takes a lot of reading, research and smarts as well. Is it worth it? Absolutely! I sincerely wouldn't want anyone walking away from my site thinking that they are a failure because they aren't smiling and happy like so many writers portray it.
You're gonna sweat.
You're gonna swear.
And you are going to be proud of yourself.
Sure, your kitchen will be a disaster, but canning in-season, fresh food with no preservatives, no chemicals leaching out from tin cans and knowing exactly what is in your food is worth it!
The recipe I used is from the Atco website and can be found below in my printable recipe. The one thing I would like to stress is that beets are a non-acidic food, meaning in layman terms that they are more dangerous to can with.
Non-acidic foods that are canned can be a breeding ground for botulism, as well as many other things if you don't follow the directions carefully. The risk is very minimal, however let's remember that we are feeding our families with this food.
A few hard and fast rules that I obey for safe canning of non-acidic foods all the time.
1) Never, ever change the vinegar to water ratio in a recipe for canning non-acidic foods. These recipes have been developed in labs to ensure the correct amount of acidity required to eliminate the chance of botulism. Botulism grows in an air-free, low-acidic environment. See how canning gives it the perfect breeding ground? When we can vegetables we seal low acid food into an oxygen free environment. I myself do not change a recipe ever. The only thing you may alter is spices. That's it. Nothing else.
2) Always process the food for the exact times given. Do not boil your vinegar mixture more than the recipe states. Do not skip the processing time. Find out your altitude and process accordingly.
3) Read the website The National Center For Home Food Preservation because it has all the real facts. Start with the FAQ then delve into the recipes.
4) Fitting in with number three, always take your recipes from reputable sites. I've seen some canning recipes that just scare me, to be honest. The vinegar ratios are way off and they promote unsafe and un-recommended methods of canning. Remember, anyone can write a recipe, but you have no idea if it's a safe one!
So now that I've scared you off canning forever, here's the recipe!
Truly, it's a tried and true tested recipe from the Blue Flame Kitchen, so don't worry! Like I said, before you make any canning recipes with vegetables, ask where the recipe is from, just to be safe. Or better yet, just head to the Atco website or check out all the amazing recipes on the The National Center For Home Food Preservation
So what has everyone else been canning? I have so many recipes to share with you these next few weeks, I've been a busy canning bee!
Thanks for stopping in!
- 4 - 5 lb small beets 40 - 482 tbsp pickling salt1 1/2 cups white sugar3 cups white vinegar2 tbsp mixed pickling spice tied in cheesecloth bag1 cup water
Wash the beets and remove most of the tops, leaving about 1/2 inch of beet top remaining.In a large boiling pot of water, cook the beets until barely tender.Remove from the stove.Submerge the beets in a large bowl of ice water, I find this helps the skins come off with more ease.Cut off the tops and the roots completely, then remove the skin.Peel and slice beets into preferred size, I like larger chunks and not slices.Combine the vinegar, sugar, water, salt and pickling spice in a nonreactive pot and bring mixture to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes.Add the beets to the pickling liquid and return to a boil.Remove the spice bag.Carefully ladle te beets and pickling liquid into hot sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.Remove any air bubbles with a non-metal utensil.Add additional pickling liquid, if needed, to keep the proper headspace.Wipe the jar rims thoroughly with a clean damp cloth, failure to do this can result in the jars not sealing properly!Seal the jars and process for 35 minutes in a boiling water bath.For altitudes higher than 3000 ft (914 m), add 5 minutes to processing time.