How to pickle beetroot: the complete guide
Whether you’re an avid preserver anticipating a glut of home-grown produce or are totally new to the pickling game, there’s a whole host of reasons why you should give pickling beetroot a go this season.
Famed – and occasionally feared – for their antioxidant-rich deep purple hue – this versatile root veg has long been a British favourite, with it sweet and earthy flavour a staple of many a childhood dinner. Long-lasting, fantastic for leftovers and offering a ton of health benefits, in recent times the humble jar of pickled beetroots has had quite the well-deserved revival. We all know that nothing quite beats the real, homemade thing though, and thankfully pickling beetroot is a lot simpler than you might think.
How to pickle beetroot: the complete step-by-step guide
There’s nothing quite like making the most of in-season fruit and veg by turning it into a wide range of chutneys, jams and preserves, and yet for many of us it the art of pickling can seem like something of a mystery. Luckily, with a bit of time and effort and the right kit, preserving nature’s bounty couldn’t be easier – and we’ve got the know-how to help you pickle beetroot like a pro.
Starting with the right equipment for the job, we’ll take you through what ingredients you need, a sure-fire recipe for delicious pickling, how best to store your pickled goodies, address some of the common problems you might run into, and answer those burning questions about beetroot pickling we just know have been eating you up at night (or is that just us?).
Pickling equipment: everything you’ll need
Pickling your own beetroot is much easier than a lot of people realise – it’s all about good quality produce and the right gear for the job. This Wooden Pickle Packer from Masontops is brilliant for helping to pack your beets into a jar to reduce the volume of air for better fermentation (and cram in as much of your loving prepared produce as possible!)
When it comes to cooking your beets, our large Classic 20cm Lidded Saucepan is perfect for boiling up a big batch of beetroot ready for pickling, or if you’re a beetroot aficionado and have grown a whole bunch of different varieties, then we recommend dividing them by colour and boiling them all separately – that way their colours won’t all bleed together.
If you’re anticipating a bumper crop of home-grown veg and don’t know what to do with the fruits of your labour, or if you’re eyeing up the greengrocer’s seasonal shelves and are a bit at a loss over exactly how much beetroot you should stock up on, we’re here to help. Approximately 1kg of beetroot makes roughly 1.5-2L of pickled beetroot, so a pack of our 6 faceted Small Gifting Glass Jam Jars & Lids should be the perfect pickling home for your beetroot. Or, if you’re looking to gift some of your goodies away then our 6 Square Mini Gifting Glass Jam Jars & Lids are just the ticket, and would look simply adorable with these 60 Ball Adhesive Dissolvable Jam Jar Labels. For a truly traditional approach, generations of home preservers in the States have relied on Ball jars and equipment to ensure their home-made jams, chutneys and pickles are kept at their best, and for good reason. Totally airtight and watertight, these 6 Wide Mouth Embossed Glass Jam Jars and Lids from Ball are ideal for pickling and preserving your beetroot, and thanks to their wide mouths they’re oh-so-simple to fill.
The perfect pickles beetroot recipe
- 1 kg whole raw beetroot
For the pickling vinegar
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 10 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 700ml malt vinegar
- 100g brown soft sugar
- Pick of dried chilli flakes (optional)
- Sterilise your glass jars before you begin by washing them thoroughly in hot, soapy water. Once rinsed, remove any rubber and carefully place the jars on a baking tray in the oven on a low heat for approximately 10-20 minutes, or until completely dry. If using rubber seals, funnels or spoons, pop them in just-boiled water to sterilise.
- Trim and wash the beetroot – leaving the skin on – before placing in a pan of boiling water for around 30 minutes until tender, though bigger beetroot may take over an hour to cook.
- Meanwhile, create your pickling vinegar by mixing the malt vinegar, sugar and spices together and warm through in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Set the beetroot aside to cool, peel the skins off and thinly slice them.
- Pack your beetroot into the sterilised jars leaving enough space at the top for the pickling vinegar to comfortably cover it. Pour the warm spiced vinegar mixture over the beetroot, seal the jar and allow to cool.
Tip: Leave for at least two weeks before eating for best results.
Storage and expiration
If stored correctly in a cool, dark place out of direct sunlight, your pickled beetroot should last for up to a year if left unopened. Once you’ve cracked open a jar, make sure to refrigerate and eat within approximately 8-12 weeks (though we’d be surprised if it’s not gobbled up sooner!).
Your pickling questions answered
Is pickled beetroot healthy?
In a short answer, yes! A convenient alternative to fresh beetroot, when done the right way pickled beetroot offers many of the same health benefits – and thanks to their long shelf life you can enjoy them year round. Although pickling does cause it to lose a small amount of the nutrients, the beetroot is still incredibly rich in natural sugars, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and thanks to the fermentation process they’re also packed with probiotics – a healthy bacteria that has been linked to better digestion, increased athletic performance, and regulated sugar levels. You can read more information about its health benefits here.
What’s the best vinegar to use for pickling beetroot?
It’s easy to get a bit overwhelmed when it comes to choosing the right type of vinegar, and chances are you’ll get a different answer, whoever you ask. The golden rule when it comes to pickling is quite simple – the more acidic the vinegar the longer the pickles will last, meaning both malt and white wine vinegars at 6% acidity are perfect if you’re looking to enjoy your goodies all year round.
Malt vinegar tends to be the more traditional choice, and for good reason – it’s cheap, effective and great for pickling a whole variety of vegetables, but works particularly well with beetroot. Made from fermented apples, cider vinegar is a tasty choice for pickling thanks to its very mellow, fruity flavour, but with an acidity of around 4% it’s best suited to chutneys or pickles with a shorter shelf life. Although a bit more expensive, balsamic vinegar is another good option for pickling beetroot thanks to its strong, sweet taste, but because it’s less acidic than other vinegars if you’re wanting your pickles to last we’d recommend combining it with either malt or white wine vinegar.
Can you pickle beetroot quickly?
You can pickle beetroot for as little as an hour or two, but in order to get the best taste, health benefits, and long shelf life it’s best to pickle for at least 2-3 weeks before opening.
More preserving adventures
If you’ve got any beetroot left over, have a go at our simple beetroot relish recipe. A jar makes a lovely and thoughtful home-made gift. Once you’ve perfected pickling and mastered jam and relish making, it’s time to tackle fermenting. You can find our handy guide to getting started here.