We finished harvesting up the garden about a week and a half ago. The largest part of that final harvest was beets. We like beets quite a bit but they preserve very well unlike rutabagas and a few other things, so they don’t get eaten much fresh during the gardening season. We don’t have a root cellar, either, meaning all those beets need to be canned. This isn’t my first marathon beet canning session, however; and I’ve learned a trick or two to make a little easier and smoother. Here a few tips if like me, you’re canning beets for the time crunched.
If at all possible, recruit help. This makes the process faster and more fun. We harvest the beets, Jeff trims off the greens, leaving 1 one inch to help prevent bleeding. He does this outside next to the compost heap, just tossing the greens right into the bin. He puts the washed and trimmed beets into buckets. I then begin the next step.
Boil the beets to peel. I’ve learned a good 30 minute boil makes the skins slip right off. Don’t skimp on or rush this step. The whole process is so much less frustrating if those skins slip off easily. After boiling, drain and let cool.
I peel the beets into a colander in the sink. When necessary, I use a little running water to make the process go a little more smoothly. Those skins go into the compost heap. The peeled beets sit in a bowl until I’m ready to chop.
If you have help, you can have that person chopping or slicing beets as you peel. I simply line jars up on the counter next to the cutting board so that they can be filled as beets are ready.
Once jars are full of beets add boiling water, leaving 1″ headspace. Put on lids and rings and process according your type of pressure canner and elevation.
While the beets are processing and the pressure canner is coming down to zero pressure, I keep boiling, peeling, chopping and filling jars. That’s on days when I can devote a large chunk of time to canning beets. These are long days in which every burner on the stove gets used and sometimes the extra hot plate gets pulled into service to keep beets boiling for easy peeling.
On days when I don’t have that much time I do this: I boil, peel, and chop beets. Those chopped beets are placed in containers and left to sit in the fridge overnight. The next night after work, I pull those chopped beets out of the fridge and fill up my clean jars. Add boiling water, remove air bubbles, seal, and put in the pressure canner to process. While those are processing I boil, peel, and chop more beets for tomorrow night’s session. It makes it easier to do a canner load a night after work for me.
Breaking it up into smaller chunks means less hassle and exhaustion for those of us who have lots to do (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?). It adds up fast too. A canner load of 7 jars a night (or more depending on the size of jars and canner) for 7 nights is 49 jars, not all shabby and well that’s about a year’s supply for a good many of us. Of course, you might want to save a few for pickling, but that’s another post for another day.
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