Recently I had the opportunity to pick up about 4 pounds of beets at the Farmer's Market for about $5. They were fresh from a farm in Kansas and I knew that I would not be able to eat that many beets without turning... well beet red. Pickling is always a great way to use fresh produce when it's super cheap. The obvious benefits are being able to eat them in the middle of winter at which point they have aged to perfection. I'm definitely an Instant gratification kind of person so waiting for them to cure can certainly be a challenge.
I admit to have opened a pint at about one week and they were amazing so I know in several months they will be even better. My 4 pounds ended up making 3 quarts and 2 pints of beets.
You will want to wash the beets, cut the ends off and simmer them in water until JUST tender. There will be some more cooking during the canning process so no need to overcook at this point. I leave the outer skins on at this point because they are easier to remove after cooking.
Once tender transfer them to a sink filled with ice water to end the cooking process. Reserve 2 cups of the red beet water before draining. From here you can hand remove the skins or use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to fully remove any skins.
For the pickled beets you will need:
2 cups white sugar
2 cups of the beet water
1 TBSP pickling salt
4 Cups white vinegar
1/4 Cup whole cloves
1 small white or red onion sliced
Simmer your canning jars and lids in boiling water for about 10 minutes to sterilize. I leave them in the hot water until canning since this reduced any risk of breakage by placing hot liquid into cool jars.
Simmer the canning ingredients and remove from heat when it begins to boil and all sugar has been dissolved.
Remove jars from the water and fill with a few cloves per jar, some slices of onion, and enough chopped or sliced beets to about 1 inch from the top of the jar. Fill each jar with the liquid to cover and about 1/2 inch from the top. Use a knife or tap the jars lightly to remove any air bubbles. Place lids and rings onto jars until JUST finger tight.
Boil the jars in water that is at least 1 inch above the tops, for 10 minutes. (15 minutes here in Colorado altitude).
Remove from water and let sit until cool. Test the lids and refrigerate any that did not seal. Any unsealed jars should be used within 2 weeks. My favorite part is that sound of jars sealing while cooling. That popping sound is what you want to hear!
4 weeks should be the minimum before eating so that the flavors absorb into the beets. longer is better and these will easily store for at least a year.
As with any home canned products discard any that look or smell off-putting.