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First time canning: Pickled beets

I shouldn’t act as though it’s some kind of feat to can food, because of course people have been doing it for years. But today was the first time I’ve ever tried it. It also was the first time I’ve ever had a good enough garden to support canning.

These were red beets, mixed with chioggia beets, which are striped. That’s why the color varies. And for whatever reason, the beets lost color in the pressure cooker. Something the vinegar does, maybe? I pulled all two rows of beets from the garden. The voles had ruined a third of them. Ken is already tilling the now-empty rows that the beets were in to plant more beans and corn. Later on in the season, I plan to can as many green beans and tomatoes as I possibly can. I’ll freeze the corn.

Strangely enough, the canning itself is not the most tedious and time-consuming part of the process. It’s the preparation — pulling the beets, hosing them down to remove the dirt, washing them again in the kitchen sink, boiling them for a while so that the skins will slide off, and then, finally, skinning them and slicing them. From the time I started pulling beets this morning until I took the cans from the pressure cooker was about six hours.

To keep the heat and steam of the pressure cooker out of the kitchen, I put it out on the deck, using a propane-fired cooker. The temperature hit 90 degrees today, and the air conditioning still hasn’t been used so far the season. So keeping the heat out of the kitchen really helps.

Now I just hope they all seal properly…

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