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One of the memories of my childhood is my Mom pressure canning beets. Detroit Red and Early Wonder were always the varieties I remember her growing. I loved home-canned beets and still do to this day.
I’ve branched out in the varieties that I grow. I love the sweet flavor and striped color of Chioggia beets and have ventured into golden beets, but the deep reds are still my favorite for canning.
How many beets do I need?
For pressure canning beets, I averaged it out to about a half-pound of trimmed beets per pint jar. This will vary, so use this as an estimate.
If you do not grow your own beets you can buy them in bulk (and organic!) through Azure Standard.
Wash and inspect the jars
Before you start prepping the beets, wash all jars, lids, and rings with warm soapy water and inspect your jars for cracks/chips. You want to do this carefully as anything with a defect or crack may break in your pressure canner or may not seal properly. You can peel and prep the beets while the jars are sterilizing.
How many jars will fit in my canner?
How many jars you can fit depends on the size of your canner, it also depends on the size of jars you’re using. I like to use wide-mouth pint or quart jars for pretty much everything. They are so much easier to clean, and the food goes in and out so much better. If you use regular mouth instead, you can fit more jars in the canner at once. It’s really a personal preference.
Place your clean washed jars in your water bath canner and heat to a boil for 10 min. While some may skip this (because pressure canning does sterilize jars while processing,) I still like to take this extra step to make sure everything is EXTRA clean.
If you are doing a big batch and double layering your canner, then all of your jars won’t likely fit in your water bath for sterilization. I sterilize 8 at a time and then put them in a 200° oven to stay hot while I sterilize the next set of jars.
Peel the beets
NOTE: Whenever working with beets, wear something you don’t mind being stained!
There are two ways to prepare beets for canning. Both start with trimming the leaves and roots. For the first and quickest option, leave 1-2” of stem and root on. Then boil the beets until the skins start to slide off (check this with a spoon or fork.)
The second is to peel the beets by hand. This is more time-consuming, but you won’t lose as much of the beautiful red pigment with the boiling process. This is the way my mom does it and the finished beets still have that beautiful deep dark red color in the jar.
Cut the beets or leave them whole
For pressure canning beets, I like to cut the beets into large bite-sized pieces and quarter the small ones. If you have small beets you can leave them whole. Personal preference here!
Heat rings and lids
Add water to a medium stainless steel pot of water and bring to a boil. Add your rings and lids to this to sterilize (Same thing – I may be overly cautious, but better safe than botulism!) You will also use this water to fill your jars.
If you’re adding salt (not necessary, but I always do) now is the time. With your freshly sterilized hot jars sitting on a towel on the counter (don’t burn your hands!), add 1/2 tsp canning salt to each pint, or 1 tsp to each quart.
Add the beets
Place your funnel on top of each jar and scoop the beets into the jars leaving 1” headspace. Headspace is very important for proper sealing, especially with certain foods that can expand during processing. Too much headspace and the extra air will create a problem, not enough airspace and you may end up liquid/food trying to escape out of the top and not a proper seal.
After you’ve added all your beets, ladle the hot water into the jars, maintaining that 1” headspace.
Release air bubbles and wipe the rim
Use a wooden or plastic tool to slide down along the sides of the beets to release any hidden air bubbles.
Wipe each rim with a clean cloth making sure there is no residue on the edges.
Lids and rings
Now it’s time to put on the lids. Using your magnetic stick, lift each lid and ring out of the hot water and place on the jars screwing down till ‘fingertip tight’ meaning don’t crank on it. It’s important to do it fingertip tight because during the pressure canning process air does need to be able to escape for proper sealing.
Prepare your canner
Your canner should have at least 1” of water in the bottom. I’d measure to make sure. You don’t want your canner running dry during processing! But also don’t overfill – the bottom jars need to be sitting in water, not covered in it. I don’t ever add more than 1.5-2” of water to the bottom of the canner.
Set the jars in the canner
Place each jar carefully in the canner. Make sure you have the bottom tray in place. The jars should never sit directly on the bottom of the canner. If doing two layers, place the second tray on top of the first layer of jars and then carefully place your jars on top.
Seal the lid
Now it’s time to seal the lid! My All-American canner does not have a rubber gasket. It’s metal on metal. I always wipe a little olive oil on the rim to make sure there is a proper seal (my mother always has done this, so I do as well!)
Check the vent
Check the vent on the lid and make sure it is clear from any buildup (you should be able to look through it and see light.) Place the lid on and tighten the fasteners opposite each other (don’t tighten around in a circle, you want the lid to be as level as possible.) Make sure you don’t have the regulator weight on the vent, it needs to vent freely at first.
Note: your canner may have a different way of fastening the lid. ALWAYS read the instruction manual before using your pressure canner!
Turn on the heat and watch (or rather listen) the vent. Once you see (and hear) a steady stream of steam coming from the vent, set a timer for 10 minutes and let it vent.
Add the regulator weight
After 10 minutes, place the regulator weight over the vent using the appropriate pressure for your altitude (you can find this in your canner’s instruction manual.)
Once the canner reaches the correct pressure the weight will start to jiggle. Start your timer now. For pressure canning beets it is 30 min for pints or 35 min for quarts.
I usually turn the heat down a tad at this point. You want the weight to jiggle once every minute or so, but not constantly. We are over 1,000 above sea level, so I use 15 lbs of pressure. On the gauge, I like to keep it halfway between 10-15 lbs, never letting it drop below 10 and definitely never letting it get above 15 (you don’t want to blow up your canner!)
Never leave your canner unattended!
I NEVER go out of earshot of my canner while it’s processing. Find something in the kitchen to do while you’re waiting or somewhere that you can hear the weight jiggling (no vacuuming, etc. you need to hear it!) I usually have to adjust the temp down every so often as the pressure increases. While you’re waiting you can read my post on pressure canning Black Beans!
I usually have to adjust the temp down every so often as the pressure increases. This may sound scary, but after a few rounds of canning you’ll feel more comfortable, I promise!
Turn off the heat
When it is done processing, turn off the heat and let it sit. Do not remove the regulator weight at this point, leave it on. It needs to come down in pressure very slowly.
Now you can safely walk away for a bit and know you’re almost done!
Open the canner
Once the gauge reads zero, using an oven mitt (that baby is still piping hot!) remove the weight from the vent and let it finish venting. Once there’s is no more steam coming out of the vent, with your oven mitts still on, carefully unscrew the fasteners. Open the lid away from you as the steam is very hot.
Remove each jar with your jar lifter, and place them on a clean towel, being careful not to bump them together. The liquid is still boiling inside the jars, so make sure to keep little hands away!
Let them cool for 24 hrs then remove the rings and label! As you’ll see in my other posts about pressure canning, the process is very similar. It’s the prep work that usually differs the most. Most importantly, don’t be intimidated by pressure canning beets! Once you do it a few times you’ll feel so much more comfortable!
Note: I always reheat my pressure canned foods before eating, just to be on the safe side!
You’re done! Congrats!
Until next time! Happy trails!