Preserving beets

Michigan Fresh beets are available for preserving or pickling.

Michigan Fresh grown beets are available. Whether you choose to purchase beets at a local Farmers Market or grow beets in your garden, they are a great source of vitamins, minerals and. Michigan State University Extension recommends that you wash your hands before preparing any fresh produce. The fresh produce needs to be rinsed well with lukewarm water before any further preparation takes place.

Recommended storage and use for your fresh beets include the following tips:

  • Avoid using large beets greater than 3-inches in diameter.
  • Wash hands before and after handling fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Do not trim the root.
  • Wash beets thoroughly under cool running water. Do not use soap.
  • Keep beets away from raw meats and meat juice to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Before storing, trim the stem to 2-inches above the beet. Do not trim the tail.
  • Store beets in a plastic bag in the refrigerator at or below 41 degrees Fahrenheit for seven to 10 days.
  • Beets may be frozen for up to 10 months.

Preserving beets

Pressure canning is the only safe method for canning beets. For the best quality, use beets that are 1-2 inches in diameter. Trim off beet tops, leaving an inch of stem and roots to reduce bleeding of color during cooking. Scrub well. Cover beets with boiling water. Boil until skins slip off easily (about 15 to 25 minutes, depending on size of beets). Cool, remove skins and trim off stems and roots. Leave baby beets whole, and cut medium or large beets into 1/2-inch cubes or slices. Half or quarter any very large slices of beets. If desired, add one teaspoon of salt per quart to each jar. Fill hot jars with hot beets and fresh hot water, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and wipe jar rims. Adjust the jar lids. Process in a weighted-gauge canner at 10 pounds pressure or in a dial-gauge canner at 11 pounds pressure; pints for 30 minutes and quarts for 35 minutes.

Let jars stand undisturbed on the counter for 24 hours, remove rings, check to make sure lids are sealed, wash jars, label, date and store your beets.

Pickled beets are a favorite for many, including some of my family members. Below is a suggested recipe for pickled beets.

Pickled beets

  • 7 pounds of 2- to 2 1/2-inch diameter beets
  • 4 to 6 onions, peeled to 2- to 2 1/2 -inches in diameter (if desired)
  • 4 cups white or cider vinegar (five percent acidity)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons canning or pickling salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 whole cloves

Trim off beet tops, leaving 1-inch of stem and roots to prevent bleeding of color during cooking. Wash thoroughly. Sort for size. Cover similar-sized beets with boiling water and cook until tender (about 25 to 30 minutes). Drain and discard liquid (extra liquid will dilute the vinegar, making the product unsafe). Cool beets. Trim off roots and stems and slip off skins. Slice into 1/4-inch slices. If desired, peel and thinly slice onions. Combine vinegar, salt, sugar and 2 cups of fresh water. Put spices (cinnamon sticks and cloves) in cheesecloth bag and add to vinegar mixture. Bring to a boil. Add beets and onions. Simmer five minutes. Remove spice bag. Fill jars with beets and onions, and add vinegar solution, allowing for 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids and process. The boiling-water canner method is acceptable for pickled beets because the added vinegar makes them an acid food. Let jars stand undisturbed for 24 hours. Remove rings. Wash jars, label, date and store your beets.

Recommended process times in boiling-water bath canner

Style of pack

Jar size

1-1,000 feet

1,001-3,000 feet

3,001-6,000 feet

6,001-8,000 feet


Pints or quarts

30 minutes

35 minutes

40 minutes

45 minutes

Variation: Pickled whole baby beets. Follow above directions but use beets that are 1- to 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Pack whole – do not slice. Onions may be omitted

Be sure to check out all of the Michigan Fresh fact sheets with recipes, gardening tips and preservation techniques for over eighty Michigan grown foods available for free at The goal of Michigan Fresh is to help you and your family eat, preserve, grow and learn about all that’s Michigan Fresh. It’s Michigan Fresh – for you!

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