Lacto-Fermented Pickled Beets

This is my favorite way to eat and preserve beets. I eat these almost daily. I’ll sprinkle a few over a salad, or just eat a small bowl. I also like to put them out as part of a tapas spread. I grew up eating the sweet and sour (think sugar and vinegar) pickled beets, but ever since I started making these, I can’t go back to the old version.

Pickled Beets - Delicious and Gorgeous!

I’m down to a quart of pickled beets, so this morning I dug up the remaining summer beets from the garden. These are so simple to make, and even die-hard beet-haters come around with this recipe. Plus, unlike the “canned” vinegar pickled beets, these are good for you. No added sugar and fermented vegetables benefit the digestive system. Enjoy!

Lacto-Fermented Pickled Beets

Fresh beets
Sea salt or pickling salt (no iodized salt)

1. Make a brine of 1 tablespoon salt dissolved in 1 cup water.

2. Scrub beets and remove root ends and tops. You don’t want any sand in those pickles!

3. Chop beets into 1/2 inch dice and add to a quart-sized mason jar, leaving an inch of head space. Fill with the brine to cover the beets. Cover with a lid, but do not tighten the lid all the way down (leave some “give” for any fermenting gases to escape) or affix a paper towel with a rubber band to keep dust and fruit flies out.

4. Let sit on the counter for 3 days. Move to the refrigerator and let sit for at least another week or two. I find that they get better with age, and I prefer them after a few months of aging. Enjoy!


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31 Responses to Lacto-Fermented Pickled Beets

  1. C.C. says:

    so simple – yet again you all share a winner. I do like beets, but am not growing them. I thuls be.

  2. Thanks, CC. Hopefully the farmers markets will have a nice crop of fall beets soon!

  3. quick question, Jen…is it one tablespoon salt for each cup of water? (4 tablespoons per quart)?
    thanks for recipe!

  4. hi robin, yes, 1 tablespoon per cup of water. sounds like a lot, i know, but you will only need maybe 1 or 1 1/2 cups of brine per quart of chopped up beets. it will mix with the juices from the beet to preserve them perfectly! if you have whey handy (from draining yogurt, say), you can add a tablespoon of whey and halve the salt. but the beets you had at my house were made with all salt. have fun!

  5. Hi Jen
    doesn’t sound like too much salt to me, I just wasn’t figuring that amount of water would cover the beets, I’ll make some and will see what happens, thanks again!

  6. Tom says:

    Love your writing!!


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  9. Dan W. says:

    Is there a point at which you can / process them? Or do you have a large fridge that holds these?… I live in the cold (not so much this year) north, but my fridge is usually full…
    so wondering about longer term storage like traditional pickled beets.
    Thanks – nice site there…

  10. Hi Dan, No I don’t can or process them (that defeats the point for me). Because it’s not that cold here, I would can anything I couldn’t put in the fridge eventually. You would need traditional cold storage/root cellar to keep them preserved safely without refrigeration -our heated homes are just too warm -the beets will overferment.

    However, if you’re somewhere where it’s really cold, keeping them outside where it’s freezing might be an option, then just bring in a jar as needed (making sure to leave appropriate head space to avoid the jars bursting, of course).

    I don’t know where you’re located, but, alternately, you can do as I do which is leave the beets in the ground all winter and dig as needed. We only get down to about 5 degrees here (apart from the occasional freezing wind chill), and with our warm sun I can harvest year round with mulch and row cover, but if your ground freezes solid, you can put a few bales of straw over the bed, then row cover, to keep the ground just above freezing.

  11. TVCL says:

    Just to be clear, you do ‘not’ cook the beets first?

  12. No, these are not a conventional “canned” pickled beet recipe. The beets are used raw.

  13. Tracii says:


  14. Heather says:

    Hi. I made these beets a few weeks ago and opened them up today to try them and it looks like there is mould growing on the top. Is this supposed to happen? I follow all your instructions and put them in clean jars. Thanks.

  15. Tom Wolfe says:

    If it’s a thin white or light grey mold then you’re good. Skim it off if you like or leave it. If it’s dark grey and slimy with an unpleasant taste then try again. Either way you can still eat them, but the latter variety isn’t all that nice and eventually your veggies will go soft and taste disgusting. To minimise the mould be sure that all of your veggies are submerged — you can use a small 125mL jar on top to press the veggies down.

  16. Tom Wolfe says:

    … and btw I use about half the salt (2T per L) and leave them uncovered. I guess I’m a bit afraid of botulism and don’t mind a bit of dust.

  17. Greg Grifin says:

    Great recipe. The last two times I tried fermenting beets I used recipes that shredded the beats. both resulted in a thick, sugary sludge after a couple of days. Shredded beets are probably great when fermented with other veggies, but not when fermented alone. Anyone have success with shredded beets? This time I used your recipe of 1/2 inch cubes. I had 3 layers in a 1/2 gallon crock of red and gold beets alternating, looked pretty as it sat to ferment. I did a ferment of basic sauerkraut after the beets, and used a few pieces of outer cabbage leaves to hold the beats down. I placed a 1 quart pyrex glass storage jar on top as a weight to assist in mold prevention. Placed on top of the jar a cloth to keep air particles and bugs out. (Has anyone ever have bugs turn up in their ferment? I haven’t, but better safe than sorry) Sat for 3 days, turned out wonderfully. They are delicious by themselves, and also great paired with soft goat cheese on a salad like I had for lunch. Looking forward to checking out the rest of your website. Keep the recipes coming!!

  18. I’ve had a batch of beets fermenting for about a week now, the beets are getting tangy, but they are still too hard and “raw”. Will they ever soften up? Seems like they should have softened by now. I even used 1/2 the amount of salt. (They were small beets with tops, not the woody kind.) Thanks!

  19. sherrie says:

    do you think I could use kombucha liquid in place of brine ..

  20. loomismom says:

    Can you add orange peel & Jamaican Allspice? Or will it ruin the fermentation.?

  21. meeerylou says:

    Can I use the brine to make pickled hard-boiled eggs?

  22. Shari says:

    Use the liquid after the beets are gone to dye a pretty pink shirt or scarf 😊

  23. Ann Knowles says:

    I shredded them last year and thought they were excellent. The texture was much like kraut.

  24. Jane says:

    once sat for 3days, and turn to the fridge do i seal a lid on tight?

  25. Yes, refrigerate with the lid sealed.

  26. Thanks for the comment! I like them shredded, too! Shredding can make them ferment a little fast (for anyone who is going to try this at home).

  27. I’ve never tried this! Let us know how it works!

  28. Joan says:

    How does slow aging of your beet recipe (via refrigeration) change the outcome compared to just fermenting the beets and simply leaving them on the counter longer?
    I have gotten into fermenting allot. Just bought a spare fridge and the garden is producing well.
    Though I have fermented allot of recipes that include beets I have never fermented straight up beets. I know they can get syrupy and I know that would be a turnoff for me. Does the brine get heavier as they age with this recipe?

  29. Garett says:

    This may seem silly, but I process the jars [sterilize with heat] before using them for the beets right?

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