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Sep 30, 2012 01:27 PM

Canning question: Reprocessing pickled beets?

I canned my first pickles last night (I had canned plenty of jam before, but no vegetables), and I think I may need to reprocess. I made beets in a red wine-vinegar brine, from a recipe in The Preservation Kitchen by James Virant. They sealed just fine, but now I'm noticing that there are some beet pieces sticking up out of the brine in the jars. I tried shaking the jars down a bit, but there's just not enough brine to cover the beets. 

1) Do I need to open the jars, take a few beet slices out and reprocess so everything is covered in brine? Is it a matter of food safety or of pickle quality? I understand that reprocessing will soften the beets, plus I have lots of other things to do today. 

2) If I do need to reprocess, how do I do so safely? When I followed the recipe last night, I packed lukewarm beet slices into jars on top of the herbs and spices, then I poured hot brine over them and sealed the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, then processed in boiling water for 10 minutes. The jars are cool now. I don't have any way of reheating the contents unless I pour them, herbs, spices, and all, into a saucepan. Or can I put the cool jars, with fresh sterile lids, into a BWB and process for 10 minutes as before? Or do I put the jars with new lids into a kettle of cold water and bring the whole things to a boil, then time 10 minutes? Or...?

Thanks in advance for your help. These pickles were kind of a big deal to put together, and I'd like to be able to eat them a few months from now without being poisoned. 

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  1. Can you paraphrase the recipe and instructions? The extra details will be helpful.

    What style jar did you use? I find jars with shoulders help hold down floaters. Packing the product firmly and being vigilant about removing air bubbles helps too. Did you loose brine during processing?

    My primary concern is that the beets were just lukewarm when packed - I usually see recipes where they are hot packed. My other concern is that 10 min. seems like too little time to process. Beets are low acid, so the acidity of the vinegar should be checked.

    Usually floaters will be save. They may discolor, but if they have been canned correctly using a safe recipe they generally are fine. You can always refrigerate the jars at this point as a precaution.

    When in doubt I check a similar recipe from the National Center for Food Preservation.