Old Fashioned Pickled Beets Recipe


Do you want even the biggest beet skeptic to eat her beets? This old fashioned pickled beets recipe will make even your pickiest kids love beets! 

Old Fashioned Pickled Beets Recipe

The truth is, I don’t think I ever ate a beet before I was 14 years old. My mom didn’t like them, and what she didn’t like, she didn’t buy. Simple as that. 

I assumed beets were gross, in fact, I was convinced that a lot of vegetables were gross. Even ones I hadn’t tasted I was militant about. Incidentally, a lot of those vegetables I now absolutely love, like roasted asparagus. Love it. 

But hated it at the time. Wouldn’t even try it. 

So that spring when I was 14, my dad had decided to convince one of our neighbors to do a joint vegetable garden since my mom was overwhelmed, dad was working, and teenage me had a very bad track record of managing a garden. 

how to can pickled beets

He succeeded, which stuck me with helping grow a lot of vegetables I was convinced I hated. 

I even helped plant the beets. 

My gardening mentor shoed me lots of tricks about growing beets that I thought was useless information stuck in my head at the time. For instance, we planted an extra row of beets a little bit late in the season, so instead of covering the seeds with soil, she had me cover them with wood ash to help them sprout faster. I haven’t actually looked into the science of that to find out if it’s really works or is just a wives tail, but I do know that the soil in our area was fairly acidic, and wood ashes are alkaline, so I’m sure there was some benefit to have a more balanced ph. 

Technically, we were only growing the garden together, but truthfully, I spent as much time as I could get away with at our neighbor’s little farm, so later, when we harvested the beets, I then learned to make pickled beets with her. 

how to make pickled beets

And that was when I first at beets. At first, I insisted that I didn’t like beets, but Miriam was a stickler for making me try things I didn’t like, and was not a fan of my rudeness in refusing food served. I think it’s thanks to her that I enjoy such a wide variety of vegetables today. I even eat radishes now – but only roasted radishes, not raw. Still don’t love those.

So after we boiled a back, I tried them. But I didn’t admit that they didn’t taste so bad. 

Then we peeled them, made pickling brine, and canned the pickled beets. 

I did try the pickled beets, but I had spent so much time believing beets were nasty, that I couldn’t admit, even to myself, that they were pretty good. 

Thankfully today, with my adult taste buds, I eat and enjoy beets frequently. 

It started with reading about how beet juice was beneficial to endurance athletes. So I bought beets, found out that I actually loved them roasted or boiled with a little salt. And then circled back around to those pickled beets I wouldn’t eat so long ago, knowing that though my kids didn’t love them boiled with salt, they did tolerate them, which meant they’d probably love good old fashioned pickled beets

how to make refrigerator pickled beets

okay, so enough of the story. Here are some really nifty tips you need to know before you use this old fashioned pickled beets recipe: 

  • Smaller beets are better. You may notice that beets in the produce section are fairly large, but if you buy a can of pickled beets, they’re rarely larger than a ping-pong ball. That’s because small beets are more tender and easier to peel, and take less time to cook.
  • If you do use larger beets, cut them into smaller chunks. That way the brine will penetrate all the way through.  
  • Beets stain, so be sure to wear and apron, and/or clothes you don’t care about. Also know that your hands might be stained for a while after you do some beet pickling.
  • Add pickling brine to jars before adding the beets to avoid overpacking your jars and ending up with beets squished up against the sides. Apparently this results in mushy beets. 
  • Feel free to skip the canning and keep your pickled beets in the refrigerator for several weeks.
  • However, if you would like to start canning, you can find an inexpensive waterbath canner on amazon, as well as pint canning jars. You can also usually find them at Walmart.

Old Fashioned Pickled Beets Recipe

  • Author: Elise New


  • 4 quarts of beets
  • 2/12 cups sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Tablespoons pickling spice
  • 4 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups water, reserved from boiled beets (Note, spices can be omitted if desired)


  1. Boil beets and drain, reserving liquid
  2. Peel beets, but into chunks if necessary, and set aside
  3. Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes
  5. Strain to remove cinnamon sticks and spices if desired
  6. Fill hot jars half-way with pickle brine
  7. Gently drop beets into brine, (adding more brine if necessary) to fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space
  8. Fit with lids and rings
  9. Process jars for 30 minutes in a water bath canner


This recipe make about 8 pints of pickled beets

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