Do I have to 'can' pickled beets?
Recently had the desire to make small quantity of pickled beets when I saw the beets at the local produce market. I only bought about 1.5 to 2 lbs, so it's not a very large quantity. when I started looking for recipes, almost all were canning recipes. For this small quantity, which we'll use up within a couple of weeks, do I need to go through the canning process? Will they really 'pickle' properly if I don't?
Nope, no need to process the beets in a water bath canner, unless you want to keep them on the pantry shelf without refrigeration for later use.
You can just pickle them and then leave them in the fridge for a few days or so to "mellow" before eating. They won't be fully flavored right away.
I make a lot of pickled foods and quick relishes, mostly in small batches. I give some away and keep the rest in the fridge, using it up over a couple of weeks or months. They last just fine. The vinegar preserves them well.
I mostly "can" in the summer when I have an abundance that would overfill my fridge. Then it's worthwhile.
I just enjoyed some tonight that I made at the end of November, and did not "can" them--I figured that my recipe had enough vinegar and sugar to keep them safe (just make sure that yours does too). They were delicious!
I think the canning part is more about preserving than imparting any kind of flavour. I suppose that if something is canned, you can keep it longer, therefore the ageing would alter the texture to some degree, but that's about the only difference I can think of.
No you don't have to can them for that small amount. Pickled products last quite a while in the frig, at least several weeks. I suspect the beets will only get better with age. You'll eat them up before anything even remotely bad happens to them.
Save yourself the effort.
Use the pickling juice for pickled "pink" eggs afterwards.
Sad pickled beet story: I wanted to make them for the DH, he had never had beets (!) So I made a batch and the cat knocked the bowl off the counter, onto the sofa below and then onto the rug. You can just picture the mess.