How to Preserve Beets Using a Dial-Gauge Pressure Canner

Canning beets from your garden

My grandma used to make Harvard beets for every holiday dinner when I was young, just for me.

Perhaps it was the only vegetable dish I liked, but whatever the reason, it became a family tradition.

Besides the fact that I love these sweet and sour beets, beets are quite easy to grow, and the greens are a good alternative to spinach in smoothies, so there are several reasons to grow them in the garden.

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The benefits of beets

  • 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

If they're 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.

Beets are low in acid so they must be canned using a pressure canner, but they are an excellent beginner's project. If you are unfamiliar with the process of pressure canning, see this post on pressure-canning for beginners.

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!

In the kitchen, cut off the beet tops but leave an inch or so of the stems and roots attached to keep the color from bleeding out of the beet. Wash and scrub the beets very well.

I think the reason some people think beets taste like dirt is because the soil wasn't washed off completely.

Beets, ready to skin and slice

Add the beets to a large pot of boiling water. Let the water return to boiling, then begin timing.

Boil the beets for about 15-25 minutes, depending on their size. Let them cool until you can handle them, then slip off the skins and cut off the stems and roots.

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. 

If you're slicing them, cut the larger slices in half or quarters if needed.

Fill the Jars

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

Fill the hot jars with the prepared beets and add hot water, leaving an inch of head space in the jars. 

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

Keep your canning jars in hot water until ready to be filled.

When you've filled the jars, 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 your  canner's instructions recommend, then put the lid on the canner.


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

Pressure canner with dial gauge

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.

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.

  • 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.

Follow your canner's directions for cooling the canner completely before opening it. 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.

Don't forget to label your jars - jars of red plums look very similar to jars of small, whole beets on the shelf.

Folks seem to either love beets or hate them. Which are you?

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 This post was updated July 2021.

  How to pressure can beets.

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