Though time-consuming, learning how to can beets is actually easy. First you skin them, then pack them in jars, finally process. Beets are a vegetable that you either love or hate. Personally, I love em. Sooooo very very much better than store-bought. If you are one who thinks beets taste like dirt, try homegrown (or farmers market fresh) beets. There is no comparison.
You will need to know how to use a pressure canner. I’ve been asked for processing times using a hot water bath. However Beets are a low acid food, botulism is a risk and pressure canning is the only safe option.
Step by Step: How to can beets
Gather your canning supplies
- pressure canner
- canning jars
- canning seals and rings
- jar lifter and canning funnel
- large pot or blancher to cook beets
- large spoons
- sharp knife
- towels and dish cloths
- Canning Salt – optional
Prepping the beets.
Wash your beets. Cut your stems to a minimum of 2 inches. A little longer is good too. Leave on the tap root. Leaving the tap root and some of the stems helps the beets to maintain their color. It won’t prevent all color loss, but it does help.
Cook beets in simmering water until beets are tender and skins will slip off.
This will take a while. You’ll just need to watch. It always takes longer that I think it needs to so have patience. Shorter if your beets are small, longer if they are big. An easy way to see if your beets are ready, is to scrape a spoon against the beets while cooking. When the skins scrape off easily they are done.
If you often have a variety of sizes of beets. Try to sort them according to size. Cook those of similar size together. The larger ones will take a little longer to loosen the skins.
Use this time to get your jars and pressure canner ready. Canner should have about 3 inches of hot water and jars should be clean and hot. See pressure canning for more detailed explanation.
Your beets are done when they are cooked through but still a bit firm. The easiest way to tell when they are done is to use a utensil to scrape t he skins. They should peel easily.
Remove your cooked beets and place in very cold water. When the beets are cool enough to handle, use your hands to slip the skins off.
The skins should just peel away with a little rubbing. Use a knife for the stubborn spots. Cut off the tops and tap roots at this point as well.
Filling the jars.
Slice or chop your beets to the desired size. If you have smaller sizes(1-2 inch size) it is nice to pack them together in a jar whole. If I’m canning larger beets I either slice or cut into chunks.
Add canning salt to jars if desired. 1/2 teaspoon to each pint and 1 teaspoon to each quart. As you skin and slice your beets pack them into hot canning jars, leaving 1-inch head space.
Remove any air bubbles. There are plastic tools sold to do this step. But any plastic utensil might work. Maybe the handle of a spatula? I like to use a simple plastic orange peeler to push down into the jar and gently move things around. This releases any bubbles that may be trapped.
Cover the beets with boiling water. Again leave a 1-inch head space. I usually use a tea kettle to pour the boiling water into the jars. You can also use a pot of water and a ladle… but the tea kettle makes much less mess. And I’m all about less mess! How about you?
Wipe the rims clean. This is important. You don’t want any food particles or residue to get between the jar and the lid. It may affect the seal.
Finally place your lids on your jars with a screw band. Snug is fine, you don’t have to crank down hard.
Process in a pressure canner.
I usually do our beets in pints which you see here. And since I’m doing pints I can stack the jars in my canner to make two layers. This allows me to process double the amount at the same time! Love saving time this way. Be sure you have a rack between your layers if you choose to do this.
For more details follow pressure canning instructions.
Don’t be surprised if you beets lose some color when you are canning beets. Leaving the taproot and stems when you boil your beets will help reduce this, but they almost always lose color when you process them. Unfortunately there is not much you can do about it. It is just a fact of home canning.
Processing Instructions (Hot Pack)
Process pints for 30 minutes or quarts for 35 minutes, adjusting for altitude.
Adjustments for Pressure Canner
Altitude – Dial Gauge – Weighted Gauge
0-1,000 ft – 11 pounds – 10 pounds
1,001-2,000 ft – 11 pounds – 15 pounds
2,001-4,000 ft – 12 pounds – 15 pounds
4,001-6,000 ft – 13 pounds – 15 pounds
6,001-8,000 ft – 14 pounds – 15 pounds
8,001-10,000 ft – 15 pounds – 15 pounds
Pinnable Canning Beets Recipe
- Canning salt optional
- Start by preparing your jars and getting water in the canner heating. You want the canner hot, but not boiling, when the jars are ready to be processed. If you are new to using a pressure canner, see this article for full pressure canning instructions. This includes more detailed information and step-by-step instructions on how a pressure canner works.
Hot pack only
- Wash beets, keeping taproot and 2” of stem.
- Boil the beets until tender, about 30–50 minutes.
- Transfer beets into very cold or ice water.
- Remove skins, stems, and taproot.
- Slice or chop beets, or leave smaller beets whole.
- Pack into hot jar and add canning salt (1/2 tsp. for each pint, 1 tsp. for each quart).
- Cover with boiling water, leaving 1” headspace.
- Remove bubbles, wipe the rim clean and place on your seal and ring. Place the jar in the warm canner. Proceed to fill all jars. Process in a pressure canner according to the directions below.
Adapted from: The National Center for Home Food Preservation ; Colorado State Extension Service
Last Updated: 1/8/21
Sharon’s Tips for Canning Beets
Various Sizes of Beets?
If you have beets of various sizes, try to sort them according to size. Cook those of similar size together. The larger ones will take a little longer to cook, but the smaller ones will be overcooked if you try to do them all together. I’ll usually end up dividing the beets from my garden into two or three different batches of similar sizes.
If you have smaller sizes (1–2″), it is nice to jar these whole. Larger beets I either slice or cut into chunks.
When to Remove the Stems & Taproot
Before boiling, cut the stems of your beets to about 3”, leaving on the taproot. This will help maintain more color when you boil the beets to loosen the skins. When you’re peeling the cooked beets, cut off the tops and taproots too.
What Happened to the Color?
Don’t be surprised if your beets lose some color after processing. This is an unfortunate byproduct of home canning. Beets simply bleed off some color when processed. I’ve not discovered a good way to avoid it entirely. Overgrown beets tend to lose more color so pick them before they get too big. Not over-processing or speeding up the cooldown process and keeping your pressure at an even level will help tremendously too. Remember, commercially canned foods go through a different process entirely, so don’t expect the color to be the same…but DO expect the flavor to blow you away.
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