So as an after thought as I was planting the garden I put in about a 12 foot row of beets on the south side of the tomato/pepper bed. I usually don’t have a ton of luck with beets but I thought I’d try them again this year. Mrs. Stoney loves to have have pickled beets with her salads so I thought it would be nice for her to not have to eat store bought beets this year. Well the beet crop actually turned out really well. We got almost 20 pounds of beets from that one row! So now I had to get busy!
After consulting with both our mom’s (who have done beets many times) we came up with the following recipe:
7 pounds of beets (about 2 1/2 inch round)
4 cups of vinegar (5%)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon whole allspice
8 pint bottles (or 4 quart)
Mrs. Stoney was busy with a church meeting the night I decided to do these so I was on my own, and it turns out that they are pretty easy to make. So here are the steps:
1. Be sure to sterilize all of your bottles, lids and rings. We do this by putting everything in the canner and heating the water to 180 degrees.
2. Trim the tops off your beets, leaving about 1 inch of stem and 1 inch of root (my mother-in-law stressed how important this was to help the beets keep their color). Scrub the beets clean.
3. Cook the beets in boiling water until tender (about 25 to 30 minutes). When done drain off the water and discard. Let the beets cool a bit.
4. Trim off the stems and roots then slip the skin off. Some of the skin might be a bit stubborn so you kind of have to scrub at them a bit.
5. Cut larger beets into 1/4 inch pieces the shape of your choice. We started off with rounds but changed our minds half way through and just did sticks for the rest.
6. Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and water in a large pot. Add spice to a bag if you don’t want it to be part of the finished product, or add directly if you want the whole spices to be in the bottles. Bring this mixture to a boil. Then add the beets, bring it back to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Remove spice bag.
7. Fill the jars with beets leaving 1/2 inch head space. Then pour in the hot liquid again leaving 1/2 head space. Be careful not to spill, there should be just enough liquid to fill each jar.
8. Process in a boiling water canner. The time is based on your altitude 0 to 1000 feet – 30 minutes; 1000 to 3000 feet – 35 minutes; 3000 to 6000 feet 40 minutes; above 6000 feet – 45 minutes
And that’s it!! It really was pretty easy and can be a one person job. Mrs. Stoney helped me for a few minutes while I was peeling and cutting but for the most part I didn’t it on my own. The whole process took me about 2 hours, including the processing time. Keep in mind that beets can be pretty messy! And that nice red/purple color can leave a lot of stains so have some rags ready to wipe up any spills and don’t wear and clothes you care about keeping nice!
There are some variations of the recipe out there. I have seen some that add a couple of cinnamon sticks and others that put pickling spices in the spice bag. We don’t eat these like crazy so I think these 8 jars should easily last us until next garden season.
Any time we talk about preserving food here on Stoney Acres I always add this little disclaimer. You shouldn’t just take our word for it! Our advise can never replace the professional advice you will receive from a recent preserving guide book (like the Ball Blue Book) or from your local state university extension agency. Please seek out one of these sources for additional information. Food preserving guidelines are constantly changing and it is important to stay up to date on the information. Another great source is the National Center for Home Food Preservation the web site is http://nchfp.uga.edu/.