Pickling Science & Easy Pickled Beets

A few weeks ago I picked up this bunch of beautiful fresh beets at our local farmers’ market. Now, I may not be a wiz in the garden (you know all about my inability to keep plants green… ) BUT. I’m an expert at perusing a good farmers’ market! 😀

farmers market raw-beets
Joke: What could beat a pickle? *Pickled BEETS! heh heh.

Well, my beautiful beets sat, and sat, and sat….until recipe inspiration struck. And then there it was…staring at me from every foodie outlet – pickles! Pickled everything featured on Instagram, food blogs, and my favorite food publications. So. Pickled Beets it was. Plus, Dad loves pickled beets. (He’s oh-so-trendy, you know.)

So, pickling is hot again, and who’s surprised? It’s been a favorite technique among foodies for centuries!


Pickling: Why it Works – and has forever

  • Pickling is an old (and international) technique! Many different cultures turn to pickling for a variety of foods and flavor profiles. From corned beef to kimchi, salsas to kosher cucumbers, mushrooms, olives, fish, and everything in between (is there anything in between?) …pickling is a language we all speak.
  • Originally used to prolong the shelf life of food, pickling commonly uses a solution with a high amount of vinegar (or salt) to inhibit bacterial growth and delay the onset of deterioration.
  • When pickling, the choice of vinegar is important. Vinegar/solutions with a low acidity will turn out pickled foods that might be susceptible to foodborne pathogens like botulism. So, before you create an original pickle recipe, be sure to read up on acidity requirements and vinegar ratios.
  • Eggs, fruits, vegetables, and meats can all be pickled. I’m coming up short on an example of pickled nuts…anyone?
  • “Pickling Spice” is a common addition to many pickled recipes. However, not all pickling spices are the same! The flavor profile varies by brand, and preferences abound. Many pickling spices can include: peppercorns, allspice, bay leaves, mustard seed, and cinnamon. Some point to the use of mustard seed, cinnamon, etc due to antimicrobial properties.
  • Pickling is a form of food preservation. 

Refrigerated Pickled Beets

  • Servings: varies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Easy refrigerated pickled beets, perfect on salads!


  • 2 lbs fresh unpeeled beets, trimmed and rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 2 c. vinegar
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. all spice, whole
  • 1 tsp pickling spice


  1. Wash beets, and trim off stems/roots. Boil a big pot of water (large enough to fully cover the beets).
  2. Add beets (skin on) to the boiling water, and boil for approximately 40 minutes, or until the beets can be pierced with a fork. While beets are boiling, prepare a large bowl with ice water.
  3. After beets have finished cooking, plunge them into the ice water. Rub beet skins with hands until the skins have fallen off into the cold water.
  4. Cut peeled beets into the desired shape/size. Divide beets evenly, and add to glass jars. Divide sliced red onion evenly, and add these to the glass jars with beets.
  5. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, water, and salt. Cook mixture on medium-high until all sugar has dissolved. Pour hot liquid over the beet/onion mixture.
  6. Sprinkle allspice and pickling spice into each jar. Seal jars.
  7. Store pickled beets in the refrigerator to enjoy on salads (and sandwiches), or eat them with a fork. 🙂
  8. Refrigerated pickled beets should last several weeks. Be sure to date your jars!

*Note: This recipe is not intended to be stored at room temperature.

2 thoughts

  1. I love beets! And I love pickling things! We haven’t done pressure cooking stuff yet, but I am sure it is somewhere down the road.

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