Lemony-Sweet Pickled Beets

Within the past week, I've accomplished two things I've never done before: I've pickled and canned beets and I've eaten pickled, canned beets!

I think beets are fabulous-looking freshly plucked from the soil, but I love them even more when I cut into a freshly boiled one...most recently, I sliced into dark pink-red beets. The rings in the flesh made me think about when I was in elementary school science class and we learned how to determine the age of a tree.

I also get a kick out of peeling beets that have been boiled because they're slick and slimy, and THAT makes me think about having a Halloween party and putting things like peeled grapes and cold spaghetti into paper bags and having guests stick their hands in and guess what they're touching ("eyeballs?! eeew, gross!")

Anway, I digress...back to my two firsts...

So, I had these giant beets from my CSA, and since I was also pulling out cute little ping-pong sized beets out of my own garden, I decided to use the big ones as pickling beets. I actually don't think I know anyone who likes pickled beets, so I was hesitant to go through with this project.
What if I ruined all these perfectly good beets?
I was torn, but I decided to just go for it. I based my recipe off of one called Spicy Sweet Pickled Beets from Cooks.com. The ingredients are the same, but the preparation is different.

Today I test-tasted. They were sweet and full of spice and flavor, but I do not agree with the cooks.com title, as they are not spicy. David loved them. As for my pickled-beet feelings? The jury's still out, but I'll have to try them in a salad and then give my final verdict. If you decide to try out this recipe, and you've tasted pickled beets before, tell me what you think, okay? And if I know you, the next time you visit my house (or I visit you), I'll be asking you to be the judge.

Recipe: Lemony-Sweet Pickled Beets
adapted from recipe on Cooks.com
Makes 4-5 pints

You'll need:
  • a large pot
  • a 5-quart saucepan
  • a canning pot filled with water
  • 4-5, 1 pint clean canning jars and lids
  • 5-6 large raw beets, greens removed (3-4lbs)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
Fill large pot with cold water. Add beets and bring to a boil. Cook 35-45 minutes, or until fork or knife can be easily inserted into beet. Remove from heat, drain beets, and allow to cool by running cold water over them (or letting them sit in an ice bath) for 5 minutes, or until they are cool enough to handle. Slide skins off beets by rubbing fingers across surface.

Slice beets into 1/4 inch-thick rounds, and then slice the rounds in half. Set aside.

In saucepan, combine water, cider vinegar, sugar, lemon slices, cloves and allspice. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.

While solution is simmering, pack jars with beets, keeping 3/4 inch head-space.

When solution has simmered for 15 minutes, turn off heat and place one or two lemon slices in each jar. Fill jars with liquid only, to a 1/4 inch above beets (1/2 inch below rim of jar). Do not put cloves and allspice in the canning jars.

Place lids on jars and process in hot water bath for 30 minutes.


  1. *It was just brought to my attention that I inadvertently left out an ingredient (the water!) in this recipe. I've just fixed it, but wanted to thank the person who read this and noted the mistake. Thank you!!-Nicole

  2. I don't see anything in the instructions about the vinegar. Is that added to the pan of sugar and water?

  3. Oooh, boy. Yup, this is a recipe where I must not have proof-read. Thanks, Ben K. for pointing out the missing vinegar in the directions. You're correct to assume it goes in the pan with the sugar and water. -NK

  4. Thanks, I'm excited to make this!



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