Spicy Pickled Beets

One of our Thanksgiving dinners will be served at our house this year and I’m really excited! This will be a first for us.  I’m hopeful that we won’t have a repeat performance of “The Easter Oven Fire of 2009”.  It was pretty impressive.  Our potato casserole boiled over and created so much smoke that we had to open each and every door and window in our house. We were convinced that one of our neighbors was going to call the fire department. Luckily, they did not. (However, if we ever do have an ACTUAL fire one day, I hope they’ll be more observant).

Back to Thanksgiving… True to form, I’ve created a big GET READY list:


  • Quick clean kitchen, dining room, living room and bathroom
  • Deep clean spare bed – turn into Thanksgiving headquarters
  • Assemble recipes and make shopping list
  • Tear up and put bread out to dry for stuffing
  • Clean out refrigerator – making room for turkey
  • Pickle beets


  • AM – move turkey from freezer to refrigerator to start thawing
  • Deep clean kitchen
  • Figure out plan for getting to and from Plaza Thursday night (Jeff)
  • Deep clean bathroom
  • Buy $4 bucket from Westlake Hardware (for brining turkey)


  • Make candied ginger for turkey brine
  • Grocery Shop!
  • Decide how to decorate for Thanksgiving
  • Borrow two folding chairs (Jeff)
  • Determine what platters/bowls/casseroles will be used Thursday


  • Peel potatoes and keep in bowl with water in fridge
  • Prepare escalloped corn – refrigerate
  • Prepare dressing
  • Start brining turkey no sooner than 5PM
  • Make sweet potato cupcakes
  • Make marshmallow fluff frosting
  • Set and decorate dining room table and buffet table
  • In bed by 11:30PM


  • Cook turkey 3 ¾ hours, let rest 30 minutes – in at 9:15AM
  • Start making rolls at 9AM (Jeff)
  • Take turkey out at 12:50 PM
  • Put Lora’s green bean casserole in over at 12:50 PM at 350 degrees
  • Put Jeff’s rolls in over at 12:50 for 20-30 minutes
  • Eat at 1:30 PM
  • Frost cupcakes
  • Make and bake pumpkin dessert
  • Whip cream for pumpkin pie dessert
  • Buy a newspaper

This list has already been printed and will hanging on my refrigerator door all week.  That’s how I roll.

Last night I pickled beets.  Why?  Because it’s just not Thanksgiving without them. Or Christmas. Or Easter. Or the 4th of July.  And, as you can see, it was on my list of Sunday tasks.

I come from a long line of beet lovers.  When Jeff and I first met he was not a fan. At our third or fourth holiday family meal he admitted to me he thought they tasted like dirt. Thankfully by that time I had already decided he was a keeper.  Any earlier in the relationship that comment might have kicked him out of the running.


This is my all-time favorite pickled beet recipe. It’s the recipe my mother has used for years and years. It comes straight out of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving cook book.  I don’t believe it’s possible to introduce me to a pickled beet that I’d like more than this one. They’re sweet and tangy and spicy all at the same time.  And they pick up a little bit of heat from the onion (which is also delicious). I always add a little bit more sugar than the recipe calls for because I like them sweeter.

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  • 4 lbs of fresh beets (or 4 cans)
  • 3 c thinly sliced onions
  • 2 ½ c cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ c water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 c sugar (plus 1-2 TBSP if you like them sweeter)
  • 1 TBSP mustard seed
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 3 sticks cinnamon, broken


  1. IF USING FRESH BEETS: Wash and drain beets.  Leave 2 inches of stems and tap roots.  Cover with boiling wter and cook until tender.  Remove peel; trim ends and cut into slices or chunks.
  2. IF USING CANNED BEETS, START HERE: Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Add beets and cook until hot throughout.
  4. Remove cinnamon sticks.  Pack hot beets into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace.  Ladle hot pickling liquid over beets, leaving ¼ inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process 30 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

My dad tells me that these beets are best if left alone for 2-3 months. His level of patience has always amazed me.


2 thoughts on “Spicy Pickled Beets

  1. Kathie Duguid says:

    Yum! Can’t wait!

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