Spiced Pickled Beets

spice pickled beets
Photo: Ellie Miller
2 quarts

Pickling was popular during World War II and was considered patriotic for its frugality. Whole pickling spices, bay leaves, white wine, and sugar give these red and golden beets a bright, sweet, relish-like flavor.


  • 5 medium red beets and 5 golden beets, stems trimmed (2 pounds total with greens)

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

  • 1 ½ teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

  • ¾ teaspoon dill seed

  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice

  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds

  • ¼ teaspoon whole cloves

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, flakes

  • 4 or 5 fresh bay leaves (or 6 dried)

  • 1 ¼ cups white wine vinegar

  • 1 ¼ cups dry white wine

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt


  1. Put red beets in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Repeat with golden beets in another medium saucepan. Cover each, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until beets are tender, about 30 minutes. Keeping beets separate, drain, and let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel beets; cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Transfer to separate nonreactive containers.

  2. Stir together the spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle beets with the spice mixture and the bay leaves, dividing evenly.

  3. Stir together vinegar, wine, 1 1/4 cups water, the sugar, and the salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Immediately pour brine over beets, dividing evenly. Let cool completely. Cover each container, and refrigerate 7 to 10 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature. Pickled beets can be refrigerated, covered, up to 3 weeks. Transfer to smaller containers to store, if desired.

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