Episode 4: Making and Preserving Pickled Beets

One of the best ways to eat well on a budget is to buy produce when it is in season and preserve it for the whole winter. Last week, I spent $20 on 1/2 bushel of beets, an additional $5-10 on other ingredients, and ended up with fourteen jars of pickled beets. Had I preserved all the beets, I would have had 21 jars, making the cost to me a little over $1 per jar. Go try to get such a premium product for that price at the grocer. You can get crummy ones in the $1.30 range, but premium ones are $3-6 per jar.

This episode of Living Freein Tennessee walks through the process of water bath canning and shares my personal pickled beet recipe along with the recipe I inherited from my Great Aunt Helen.

Direct Download Here.


This week’s song: “Grow Your Own” by Pat Riley

Handy canning reference.

UPDATE on my CANNING mishap:

  1. Just heard back from the food scientist and we are pureeing the contents of two jars to pull a PH reading. We will keep you posted on what happens.
  2. Had I realized sooner that I had made a mistake, I could have put the food in the fridge/processed it immediately a second time for the proper time and been fine.

Nicole Sauce’s Pickled Beet Recipe

1/4 bushel beets makes about seven quarts


  • 1/2 cup pickling or kosher salt
  • 5.5 cups 5% vinegar
  • 6 cups water

Per quart jar spice mix (add to jar)

  • 2 heads dill weed
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 hot peppers (cayenne or jalapeno)
  • 6 peppercorns

Process method: Cold pack

Process time: 20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts

(wait 6 weeks before eating so everything tastes well blended)

Aunt Helen’s Beet Pickles with an extra step (Courtesy of Mama Sauce)
1/4 bushel beets makes about 10 pints.

Brine (make enough batched to cover beets)

  • 1 qt vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 6 c sugar
  • 2 TBSP salt (plain, kosher, or pickling: may not be iodized)
  • 2 tsp pickling spice

Lots of beets

Boil beets in water. Skin and slice more thinly than for a regular pickled beet: say 1/8” or thinner. Pack in glass container or containers. Keep track of how many beets you’ve pickled (for backpack portion control.)

Bring brine to boil. Completely cover beets. If you plan to eat these without further processing, pack and seal in wide-mouth Mason jars in the usual fashion. If you plan to dehydrate, why not pickle in a single glass bowl?

Cover and let pickle for 2 weeks. Then you can eat or dehydrate them.

To dehydrate:
Drain beets. You can save and reuse the pickling solution a time or two before you should dump it and make fresh, so you can run successive batches.

Notice how many beets you spread on each rack or how many total beet’s you’re drying. I dehydrate at 135 degrees F, because that’s the temperature my appliance manufacturer specifies as safe for vegetables. Since they’re pickled, not an issue, but I still use 135 degrees. Most beets are done overnight; some take a bit longer because they’re a little thicker. Best consistency is slightly chewy, not all the way to crisp.