Pickling Beets and Reusing Brine To Pickle Eggs

When the pandemic started, it was a kick in the pants to try to produce as much as possible at home. My husband, Matt, started building up raised beds near our house. Our beets got planted a little late so they didn’t get to the large size they have in the past. Despite that, we did harvest some tasty beets so we decided to pickle them. This is a fairly easy process that I wanted to share with you in case you are trying to find creative ways to use up produce.

Another benefit of pickled beets is that after you have eaten the pickled beets, you can use the brine to make delicious pickled eggs that will keep in your refrigerator for several months. This is a natural way to create pickled eggs that have a gorgeous color. When you get pickled eggs in the store, they are often artificially colored using Red 40 or similar.

Step 1 Harvest and Wash Well

We grew Bull’s Blood Beets. They are one of the more common beets that you can find. Beet greens are also good to eat. We add them to salads quite often.

Step 2 Peel and Slice

Working on this project taught me that small beets can be a little challenging to peel. I found that it was easiest to leave some of the stem on so you have something to grip. I used a vegetable peeler and then sliced with a small knife.

Step 3 Roast and Allow To Cool

Roasted beets. The color seems to deepen a little with roasting. How long it takes your beets to roast depends on how big your slices are. Mine only took 15 minutes at 350F in a toaster oven. I did cover them with aluminum foil while roasting just to make sure they did not dry out too much.

Step 4 Prepare Your Jars

I decided to use some cute little half-pint wide mouth jars. Part of the reason was simply that this was the only size I could find online at the time with reasonable shipping. For small specialty foods like pickled beets, they are kind of nice.

Wash jars and lids/rings. Even if you have new in the box jars you need to wash them. Jars straight from the factory always have an odd smell to them.

If you are just doing refrigerator pickled beets, you can just use one big jar if you want. The type with glass lids and rubber seals work just fine.

Step 5 The Brine

Making a brine for beets is really simple. Basically you simmer equal parts vinegar and water, some sugar, and whatever spices you prefer. Cloves are often used in pickled beets. I really wanted to use some but Amazon messed up my order and sent me nutmeg instead so no cloves for me!

You might want to explore recipes online so you can experiment a little.

Here is the recipe for the brine I used.

  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. You can use any type of vinegar for pickling beets. I like to use my more expensive vinegar for special recipes like this.
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp minced garlic

All the ingredients were combined in a pot and brought to a simmer for 5 minutes. If you have any brine left over after filling your jars you can save it and use it to marinate other foods.

Step 6 Pack Beets In Jars and Cover With Brine

Step 7 Put Lids On And Either Refrigerate or Process With Hot Water Bath Canner

We chose to make refrigerator pickled beets. This is a good method if you have extra space in your fridge. Sometimes you may not want to pickle enough to make it worth your time to hot water bath can them. If you use the refrigerator method, let beets marinate in the brine for at least a week before eating. You should try them at 1 week and see how the flavor is and then maybe try them again at 2 weeks. The longer they sit in the brine, the more the beets will pick up the flavors provided by the spices you used.

The general guideline is that pickled beets in the fridge are good for around 6 weeks.

You need to leave a half-inch headspace on jars if you intend on using a hot water bath canner so make sure that you don’t overfill them with brine if you intend on using this method. Firmly tighten rings and lids.

Place jars in a hot water bath canner, making sure that the tops of jars are covered.

Process in a hot water bath canner using the following times. How long you boil the jars of beets is dependent on your altitude.

0-1000 feet= Process for 30 minutes

1001-3000 feet= 35 minutes

3001-6000=40 minutes

6001 and above=45 minutes

Once your pickled beets are hot water bath canned and sealed you can store and enjoy them for up to a year.

Pickling Eggs With Pickled Beet Brine

If you save the gorgeous purple pickled beet brine you can use it for pickled eggs. This helps make the most out of your hard work. If you are like me and sometimes like to use expensive apple cider vinegar, reusing brine takes some of the edge off the cost.

To pickle eggs, simply pour the brine into a clean jar and add peeled hard-boiled eggs. Make sure eggs are completely covered. If you are a bit short on brine you can always make some more and add it to whatever you have leftover from your beets.

Put a lid on the jar and store the eggs in your refrigerator for up to two months. It takes at least a week for them to start to taste pickled. Remember that pickled eggs must be stored in the fridge. There is currently no recommended method for canning pickled eggs at home and storing without refrigeration.

For more information on pickling eggs, check out my article over at Backdoor Survival by clicking on this link.

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