How to Can Beets in a Pressure Canner

A white bowl holds sliced beets in a deep ruby red liquid.

Learn how to can beets in a pressure canner in this step-by-step guide. Beets are easy to grow and just as easy to preserve using a pressure canner, so you can enjoy their vibrant flavors year-round.

How to can beets in a pressure canner

My grandma's Harvard beets were a staple at every holiday dinner, and she made them just for me. Perhaps it was the only vegetable dish I liked.  

As the years went by, this sweet and sour beet dish became a cherished family tradition. 

Not only do I love the taste and the velvety texture of this recipe, but beets are also a joy to grow. With their easy cultivation and versatile greens (they're a great alternative to spinach in smoothies, for instance), there are plenty of reasons to include them in your garden as well as in your pantry.

Learn how to pressure can beets so you can enjoy their vibrant beauty and taste throughout the winter months.

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Why you should can beets

Canning beets is a great preservation method as it locks in their vibrant flavors, allows for year-round enjoyment, and extends their shelf life. 

The canning process ensures that the beets retain their nutritional value while providing convenience and versatility in the kitchen. 

By following proper canning techniques, you can savor the taste of your homegrown beets in your favorite dishes and relish their goodness long after the harvest season.

The benefits of beets

Before we dive into the canning process, let's look into the nutritional value and health benefits that beets are said to bring to the table.

  • Eating beets can lower your blood pressure, boost stamina and reduce inflammation. 
  • They have anti-cancer properties and are packed with fiber and nutrients. 
  • Beets are high in vitamin C, potassium, manganese and folate, a B vitamin.

Homegrown beets fresh from the garden, with stems and leaves still attached.

If beets are on your list of garden staples too, here's how to can them so you can enjoy their ruby-colored beauty and flavor all winter long.

Can you can beets without a pressure canner?

Beets are low in acid so they must be canned using a pressure canner. They are not a candidate for water bath canning, but they are an excellent beginner's project if you want to learn how to pressure can. 

According to the USDA, pickled beets are safe to process in a boiling water bath canner because they contain a high amount of vinegar which increases their acidity. However, in order to safely can fresh beets, you need to use a pressure canner.

Prepare your beets for canning

You might find it easiest to wash garden-fresh beets outside to get the bulk of the soil off before coming inside the house. Dirt tends to cling to beets!

Once you're in the kitchen, wash off any remaining soil, scrub them well with a vegetable brush, and be sure they are clean. Some people say that beets taste like dirt, and I can see why if they aren't washed properly.

Cut off the beet tops, leaving an inch or so of both the stems and the roots attached. This will keep beets from bleeding and will preserve their deep ruby-red color. 

Fresh beets, well-cleaned and boiled, ready to skin and slice

Boil the beets

Bring a large pot of water to boiling on your stove. Once it reaches the boiling point, add the cleaned, whole beets.

Once the water returns to boiling, start your kitchen timer. Boil the beets for about 15-25 minutes, depending on their size. 

Remove beets from the boiling water and let them drain. When they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and cut off the stems and roots. (Those skins should slide right off after they've been boiled. They are a joy to work with!)

Cut or slice the beets into fairly uniform-sized pieces or slices. You can leave small beets whole and halve or quarter larger ones if you wish. 

Cut the larger slices in half or quarters if needed, so all of your beets are similar in size.

Prepare and fill the Jars

Use clean jars for canning. Run your index finger along the top rim of each jar to check for bumps or chips. Each jar rim should be smooth in order to seal correctly.

Keep your clean canning jars submerged in hot water until you are ready to fill them.

A metal sink full of pint-sized canning jars.

Use a canning funnel to fill the hot jars with the prepared beets. Add hot water to each jar, leaving one inch headspace - the jars should be full of water up to one inch of the top of the jar.

Insert a bubble popper tool (it will also measure your jars' headspace for you) or a plastic knife in the jars to carefully wiggle the beets around and release any trapped air bubbles.

If you wish you can add one teaspoon of salt per quart.

Add the lids and rings to your canning jars

When all of the jars have been filled, wipe the rims with a damp cloth and add the canning lids and rings. Tighten the rings to "fingertip tight" but don't overtighten them.

Using a jar lifter, place the jars in your pressure canner. Add the amount of water recommended for your canner (read the instructions), then put the lid on the canner.

Begin the pressure canning process

After adding your jars to the canner, close the lid as directed.

Follow the directions for your particular canner to bring the water to boiling and tighten the lid. I use this 23-quart Presto pressure canner.

Find your canner's instruction guide online

No worries if you've misplaced the instruction guide for your Presto canner. You can probably find it at the Presto website here.

A Presto pressure canner with dial gauge

A dial gauge pressure canner such as the Presto releases pressure or holds it in, to hold the correct pressure in the canner. If the pressure is higher than needed, steam is released through the vent on the lid.

You can regulate the amount of pressure by adjusting the stove burner, so that the heat is higher or lower. The gauge on the lid of the pressure canner tells you how much pressure is inside the canner.

If you live at an elevation higher than 2,000 feet above sea level, you'll need to increase the pressure, but the processing time remains the same. [Source]

  • At 2,000 feet above sea level or higher, process at 12 pounds of pressure.
  • At 4,000 feet or higher, increase the pressure to 13 pounds.
  • At 6,000 feet or higher, increase the pressure to 14 pounds.

For example, pint jars of beets should be processed for 30 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure in a dial-gauge pressure canner (my Presto pressure canner is a dial-gauge canner). Quarts should be processed for 35 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure.

Allow your canner to cool completely before opening

Follow your canner's directions for cooling the canner completely before opening it. Don't try to rush the process! 

Remember to lift the lid of the canner away from your face to avoid being burned by the hot steam.

Use the jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel-covered counter. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours, then you can remove the rings and wipe down the jars.

Storing home canned foods

Label your jars with the date and contents. Labels are important! Jars of red plums look very similar to jars of small, whole red beets on the shelf.

Store home-canned food in a dry, cool, dark place. The enemies of stored food are heat and sunlight, so choose your storage area carefully, avoiding uninsulated spaces and areas that are in direct sunlight or near appliances that give off heat.

The ideal temperature for storing canned food is between 50° and 79° Fahrenheit. 

Use heavy-duty shelves to store your home-canned foods. Those jars are heavy, and shelves that are inadequate will soon bow and eventually even break, and can send all of your hard work crashing to the floor. 

Use your home-canned beets within two years of canning for best quality.

In conclusion, pressure canning beets is an excellent way to preserve the vibrant flavors and nutritional benefits.  

By following these simple steps will allow you fill your pantry with jars of delicious homegrown beets ready to use any time of year in salads and side dishes such as my grandma's Harvard beets.

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  TEXT: How to pressure can beets from your garden.

 This post was updated in June 2024.
Originally published on July 13, 2016.


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