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Great Grandma Vi's Pickled Beets

My Mom passed this recipe down to me & these beet pickles are one of my all-time favorite preserves.  Her grandma Vi lived just down the road from her growing up near Talbot, Alberta on the original homestead from the early 1900s.

My Mom talks about the amazing garden and food that Grandma Vi always shared with her grandkids.  The small community hall at Talbot was known for it's community sports days, potlucks, dances, and other gatherings where great food & fun was shared.  The recipes have been passed through the generations and the community - often compiled in community cookbooks.

Beets are one of the easiest thing to grow in the garden.  When I was little, I wouldn't have ate a beet except as a pickled beet.  Something about the combination of vinegar & sugar makes beets delectable!  Nowadays, we eat a lot of roasted beets - peeled, chopped, and roasted in the oven with a little bit of garlic, salt & pepper, and olive oil, lard, or bacon grease.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have over the years!

Great Grandma Vi's Pickled Beets Recipe


  • 6-7 lbs beets, washed and beet greens removed (don't cut off stem and leave about 1" of the stalks)
  • 3 cups pickling or white vinegar
  • 4 to 5 cups white sugar
  • 6 mason jars (500 mL or pint size jars)
  • water bath canner


Put beets in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the beets are tender (test with a fork - they are cooked once the fork pulls out easily).  Drain and cover with cold water to cool.  Once cool enough to handle, remove the skins and stems easily with your hands and discard.  Set peeled beets aside and wash the pot for the next step.

Prepare your canning jars, lids, and rings.  Place jars in a hot water bath to sterilize and heat jars.  Keep at simmering to keep jars hot.  Place lids & rings into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Do not boil lids & rings (just hot enough to soften the rubbery seal on the lids).

Slice beets into slices approximately 1/4 inch thick (or to your liking).  If your beets are large, you may need to cut the slices in half so they fit in the jar better.

Return the sliced beets to the washed pot.  Add vinegar and sugar.  Heat until just simmering.  The syrup should just cover the beets.  If not, add double the vinegar and sugar mixture to cover the beets, and reheat to simmering.

Using a ladle, scoop beets into a hot jar until close to the top of the neck of the jar.  Spoon hot syrup over top to fill jar to 3/4 inch from the top (around the bottom ring of the neck).  Wipe the rim to remove any syrup.  Place lid in centre and put ring on until fingertip tight.  Set aside and fill remaining jars.

Place jars into water bath canner and make sure water covers the jars.  Place lid on canner and heat to boiling.  Process for 10 minutes in boiling water.  Turn off heat and let sit until water is no longer bubbling.  Remove jars and place on clean tea towel in upright position to cool.  Let cool for 24 hours. 

Check seals to make sure they have sealed.  If not, you can water bath process them one more time for 10 minutes.  If any lids do not seal, tuck the jar in the fridge and eat within 10 to 14 days.

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