Recipe: Sweet Spiced Pickled Beets?

The pleasant, sweet taste and firm texture of beets makes them a natural for pickling

Credit: Flickr/Chiot’s Run

‘Tis the season to pickle your beets

The pleasant, sweet taste and firm texture of beets makes them a natural for pickling

Small, tender baby beets may be pickled whole, but medium-sized beets up to 2 1/2 inches are better sliced. Avoid large beets—they tend to have tough, woody centres.


  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken

  • 1 tsp. each whole cloves and allspice berries

  • 2 cups red wine vinegar

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 4 lb. beets, cooked, peeled and sliced

  • 2 medium onions, peeled, halved and cut into 
1/4 inch slices


  1. Prepare the preserving jars.
  2. Put the cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice into a cheesecloth bag and tie the top with string.
  3. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and the spice bag in your preserving pot.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the beets and onions. Simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat.
  6. Discard the spice bag.
  7. Leaving the pot on low heat, spoon the beets and onions into hot, sterilized jars.
  8. Cover with the hot liquid, leaving a 1/2-inch head space. Release the air bubbles.
  9. Add additional liquid, leaving a 1/4-inch head space.
  10. Wipe the rims clean. Seal according to manufacturer’s directions.
  11. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Makes 4 to 5 1-pint jars.

Note: Never peel beets before cooking or their lovely red colour will bleed into the water. Scrub them well, then cut off the tops about two inches above the crown. Leave the root end intact. Cook the beets in a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes until they are barely tender. Drain, cover with ice water and let cool 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and cut off the tops and root ends. The skins will slip off easily.

Excerpted from Well Preserved by Mary-Anne Dragan (Whitecap, 2009).

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.