pickling beets …

is a lot of work. i won’t lie to you. it’s a lot of boiling stuff. the stove was on high almost all day yesterday and traces of vinegar are still hanging in the air all over the house. BUT we have four full, lovely bleeding-red jars of sliced beets pickling, and they look like they will be delicious in a few weeks or so. i photographed the process, if you’re at all interested, and erik and i vacillated between two websites for our how-to. this one is the main recipe we used, and this one provided pictures that guided us on the whole jar sterilization, etc. process.

Pickled Beets

You Need:
30 small to medium beets, with the greens cut off (and save these! they’re delicious cooked up!!)
4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups small onions, peeled and sliced
4 teaspoons pickling salt
4 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons mustard seeds

canning materials, jars, lids, rings, large pot or that big canner pot thing …

I amassed the basics of the recipe we used:

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Step 1: we borrowed a bunch of jars, new lids, and screw on rings from Erik’s mom. We put these in the dishwasher and run a cycle to clean them thoroughly.

Step 2: while the jars were getting clean, we cleaned the beets and put them in a pot of boiling water. cooking them took exactly 45 minutes (until they’re easy pierced with a knife, but not all mushy).
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Step 3: when the beets are done, drain them, and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and cool them down. the skins will slip off pretty easily so uh do that and slice them or quarter them or whatever. we sliced them 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Erik also cut up some onions from the garden to put into the jars with the beets.
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Step 4: we set a VERY LARGE pot on the stove, put my stock pot rack inside, filled four jars with hot tap water and put those into the rack, and filled the pot with hot tap water as well (enough to cover the filled jars). we boiled this for about 45 minutes.
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Step 5: after the jars were done boiling, we removed them from the pot (carefully and with gloves and towels and things so as not to burn ourselves) and set them aside on towels to dry. I got out another pot and combined the cider vinegar, the sugar, the water, and the pickling salt, whisking it altogether. I started this on the stove and brought it to boiling. meanwhile, i dropped four jar lids into the same rack we boiled the jars in, and let them boil for about 5 minutes (this softens the gummy part so it seals later).
100_0012 (this is the pickling liquid on the stove)

Step 6: while the boiling was going on up in Step 5, erik divided the 4 teaspoons of caraway seeds and 2 teaspoons of mustard seed evenly among all four jars. he divided the chopped onions among the jars, then divided the sliced beets into all of the jars.

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Step 7: take out the lids, set them aside. ladle the boiled pickling liquid evenly into each of the four jars, but make sure you leave at least an 1/2 an inch of space in the top of the jar to allow for expansion. Have the water in the large pot starting to boil again, by the way. Place the lids on top of each jar. Screw a ring on each, but don’t make these super tight.
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Step 8: put these filled jars into the rack and submerge into the boiling water. make sure the jars are covered with water. boil these for about 30 minutes. this is supposed to get all the air out of the jar and seal the lid to it. we got the first four sealed in the first boil, but had to re-boil one of the jars to get it sealed. lift these out with a jar lifter (carefully) and set them on something on your counter. erik says these jars take about 24 hours to settle and seal up properly so don’t bump them or anything, just let them sit on the counter for that amount of time before you store them in your pantry. you’ll know they’re sealed when you lightly touch the top of the lid and it’s all sucked in.

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(this is what the beets look like this morning)

all in all, a really fun experience, and even cooler because the beets and onions came straight from the garden. it’s labor intensive, but i can’t wait to try the beets and do it again in the next week or so, when we get to pick the rest of the beets that are in the garden…

Cooking music: roy acuff, best of, and waylon jennings

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