How do you preserve beets for the winter?

Beets are a hardy winter vegetable that can be preserved in several ways to enjoy their earthy sweetness throughout the cold months. Proper storage allows you to have beets available from your own garden through the winter and into early spring.

Can you freeze beets?

Yes, freezing is one of the easiest ways to preserve beets for winter use. To freeze beets:

  • Choose small to medium sized beets. Larger beets may become soft when thawed.
  • Trim off the tops, leaving 1-2 inches of stem. Do not trim the roots.
  • Cook beets until tender all the way through. Boiling works best, but you can also roast them.
  • Once cooked through, run beets under cold water or plunge into an ice bath. This stops the cooking process so they don’t overcook.
  • Let cooled beets drain, then slip off the skins. They should peel off easily when cooked and cooled.
  • Cut peeled beets into 1/2 inch cubes or slices. Packing them this way makes it easier to remove portions later.
  • Place beet pieces in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until solid, about 2 hours.
  • Transfer frozen beet pieces to freezer bags or airtight containers. Squeeze out excess air.
  • Label with contents and date. Frozen beets will keep 8-12 months.

To use frozen beets, simply remove desired amount and thaw in the refrigerator overnight. No need to thaw completely, as beets can be cooked from frozen as well.

What’s the best way to can beets?

Canning is a great preservation method that allows enjoying beets all year round. Follow these steps for safe canned beets:

  1. Select fresh, undamaged beets. Medium sized beets work best for uniform cooking and packing.
  2. Trim tops to within 1-2 inches of the beet. Leave root and 1 inch of stem intact.
  3. Wash beets thoroughly under cool running water. Do not break the skin.
  4. Cook beets until tender all the way through, either by boiling, roasting, or steaming.
  5. Run cooked beets under cold water or immerse in ice water. Let cool completely.
  6. Use your fingers to rub away the skins. It should come off easily if beets are cooked through.
  7. Cut off stems and roots. Quarter larger beets. Keep pieces uniform in size for even heating in the jars.
  8. Pack beets into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt per quart. Do not pack too tightly.
  9. Pour boiling water, white vinegar, or beet juice over beets, leaving 1 inch headspace.
  10. Remove air bubbles by sliding a chopstick around the inside of the jar. Wipe rims clean.
  11. Apply sterilized lids and bands. Process in a water bath canner for 30 minutes for pints, 35 minutes for quarts.
  12. Let canned beets seal for 12-24 hours. Check that the lids have sealed properly by pressing down in the center. It should not flex.
  13. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place. Canned beets will keep 12-18 months.

For an extra long shelf life, canned beets can also be processed in a pressure canner. Follow correct pressure canning procedures for your altitude and equipment.

What’s the best method for pickling beets?

Pickling is a great way to enjoy beets all winter long. For pickled beets:

  • Select small to medium sized beets with undamaged skins.
  • Trim tops to 1-2 inches. Leave roots intact.
  • Scrub beets under cool water. Do not break the skin.
  • Cook beets until fork tender either by boiling, steaming, or roasting.
  • Run cooked beets under cold water or place in ice bath. Let cool completely.
  • Rub or slide off skins using your fingers. Cooked beets peel easily.
  • Trim off stem and root ends. Quarter or slice beets evenly.
  • Pack into sterilized jars with garlic cloves, spices, herbs, and aromatics like onion or shallots.
  • Bring the pickling brine to a boil. It should contain vinegar and salt. You can add sugar or other seasonings.
  • Pour hot brine over beets, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles.
  • Wipe jar rims clean. Apply sterilized lids and bands.
  • Process jars in a water bath canner for 30 minutes. Let jars seal 12-24 hours.
  • Store properly sealed pickled beets for up to 1 year.

Refrigerator pickles are another quick and easy option. Simply prepare beets and brine as above. Pack into jars, keep refrigerated, and enjoy within 4-6 weeks.

Is dehydrating beets a good option?

Yes, dehydrating is an excellent way to preserve beets formaximum nutrition and convenience. Here’s how:

  1. Select small to medium sized beets with intact skins.
  2. Trim beet greens, leaving 1 inch of stem attached.
  3. Scrub unpeeled beets clean under cool water.
  4. Cook beets until tender when pierced with a fork. Boiling, steaming, and roasting all work well.
  5. Cool beets completely, then rub off skins by hand.
  6. Trim off stems and roots. Slice beets 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Place beet slices in a single layer on dehydrator trays. No need to pre-treat.
  8. Dehydrate at 135°F for 6-10 hours until completely dried. Check for moisture.
  9. Vacuum seal dried beet chips in bags or mason jars. Store in a cool, dark place.

Rehydrate dried beet slices by simmering in soups, stews, or boiled water. They plump up nicely when rehydrated and retain excellent flavor.

Can you store beets in the fridge?

Yes, whole unwashed beets can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-4 months. To refrigerate:

  • Cut greens to within 1-2 inches of the beet root.
  • Do not wash beets. Leave skin intact.
  • Place unwashed beets in a perforated plastic bag.
  • Squeeze out excess air and tie bag loosely closed.
  • Store bag of beets in the coolest part of the fridge, typically the bottom drawers.
  • Wash and peel beets just before use. Cook within 1-2 days of refrigerating.

Trimmed, peeled, and cooked beets can also be stored refrigerated for up to one week. Place in an airtight container, cover with broth, beet juice, or water. Change liquid every 2-3 days.

How long do beets last at room temperature?

Whole, unwashed beets with intact tops will last 2-3 weeks at cool room temperature between 45-50°F. Any warmer than 50°F, and beets will shrivel and lose moisture quickly. Here are some tips:

  • Cut beet greens, leaving 1 inch of stem attached to root.
  • Do not wash beets. Keep skin intact to prevent moisture loss.
  • Layer unwashed beets in a crate or ventilated box. Do not pack tightly.
  • Keep beets in a cool area with temperatures ideally between 45-50°F.
  • Check frequently and remove any beets that show signs of mold or shriveling.
  • Store away from light to prevent greening of the skin.
  • Cook beets within 1-2 weeks for best quality and flavor.

Peeled, cooked beets should not be left at room temperature. Refrigerate cooked beets for up to 7 days.

What’s the best way to store beet greens?

The leafy green tops of beets have excellent flavor and nutrients. Store them as follows:

  • Cut greens 1 inch above beet root, leaving stems attached to beets for storage.
  • Discard any wilted or discolored leaves.
  • Rinse greens gently under cool water. Shake off excess moisture.
  • Blanch greens for 1-2 minutes until just wilted. Do not overcook.
  • Plunge blanched greens into ice bath to stop cooking process.
  • Drain greens well and pat dry with paper towels or a salad spinner.
  • Pack loosely into freezer bags or airtight containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
  • Seal and freeze for up to 8 months. Label bags with date.

Frozen greens retain excellent texture and flavor. Steam from frozen as needed, or add directly to soups, stews, and casseroles.

How do you store beetroots without greens?

Beets sold without their leafy greens attached can still be stored well with a few adjustments:

  • Select firm, unblemished beets with smooth, undamaged skin.
  • Leave 1-2 inches of stem attached to root if possible.
  • Do not wash beets. Dampness will cause them to mold.
  • Trim any damaged stems or roots.
  • Layer unwashed beets in a crate or vented box without packing down.
  • Keep in a cool 45-50°F location. Avoid temperature fluctuations.
  • Check frequently and remove any moldy or shriveled beets.
  • Cook within 2-4 weeks for best quality and flavor.

Trimmed beets without greens will not last as long in storage compared to beets with tops. Cook them sooner rather than later for maximum freshness.

What causes beets to go bad?

Several factors can lead to beet roots and greens deteriorating faster in storage:

  • Heat and temperature fluctuations – Ideal beet storage temperature is 45-50°F. Warmer causes moisture loss.
  • Ethylene gas exposure – Ripens beets faster. Keep away from sources like apples and bananas.
  • Excess moisture – Causes mold growth. Don’t wash beets before storage.
  • Pests and diseases – Inspect regularly and remove affected beets immediately.
  • Physical damage – Cracks, bruises, and cuts allow decay to start.
  • Packed too tightly – Restricts air flow and causes mold or rotting.

Storing beets properly can prevent or minimize these issues for maximum storage life and quality.

What are the signs of bad beets?

Watch for these signs that beets are past their prime or rotting:

  • Mold visible on surface
  • Dark blemishes or spots
  • Wrinkled, dried out skin
  • Slimy texture
  • Unpleasant sour smell
  • Soft, mushy roots
  • Discolored pickling or canning liquid
  • Fermentation bubbles in jar
  • Seepage from jars
  • Rust formation on lids

At the first sign of any of the above, discard the affected beets or preserves right away. Do not taste beets with mold or an off smell, as the toxins can cause illness.

Can you freeze beet greens?

Yes, beet greens freeze very well. Their delicate texture and slight earthy sweetness are perfect in winter soups and stews. Follow these steps:

  1. Cut off beet greens, leaving 1 inch of stem attached to roots for storage.
  2. Discard any wilted or discolored leaves.
  3. Rinse greens thoroughly under cool water.
  4. Blanch greens in boiling water for 1-2 minutes until just wilted.
  5. Plunge blanched greens into ice water to stop cooking process.
  6. Drain greens thoroughly and pat very dry.
  7. Pack greens loosely into freezer bags or airtight containers.
  8. Squeeze out all air and seal bags. Label with contents and date.
  9. Freeze greens at 0°F or below. Use within 8-10 months.

Frozen greens maintain their texture and bright color well. Steam from frozen as needed, or add directly to cooked dishes.

Should you blanch beets before freezing?

Blanching is recommended before freezing beet roots. Blanching stops the enzyme action that can cause loss of flavor and texture in frozen beets. Follow these steps:

  1. Trim beet tops, leaving 1-2 inches of stem attached.
  2. Cook beets until fork tender. Boiling, roasting, and steaming all work well.
  3. Cool beets completely, then rub off the skins.
  4. Trim off stems and roots, and cut beets into uniform cubes or slices.
  5. Blanch beet pieces for 3 minutes in boiling water or steam.
  6. Remove from heat and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
  7. Drain cooled beet pieces well and pat dry.
  8. Pack blanched beets into freezer bags or airtight containers.
  9. Squeeze out air, label, and freeze at 0°F or below.

Blanching helps frozen beets retain their texture, color, and flavor compared to freezing raw. It’s a simple extra step that yields noticeable improvements.


With the variety of storage options available, beets can be enjoyed year-round. Freezing, canning, pickling, dehydrating, and refrigerating are all effective methods for preserving beets. Properly stored and processed beets will retain maximum freshness, texture, color, and flavor. Follow best practices for harvesting, preparing, and storing beets. With care taken during both growing and preservation, home gardeners can keep their beet harvest bounty on hand even through the coldest winter months.

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