Pickled Beets In A Mason Jar

PreservedFood1Last week my friend Don gave me something that reminded me of (made me remember) my childhood – pickled beets (a plant with round dark red roots eaten as a vegetable) in a Mason jar. Let me explain.

Years ago, people who grew their own vegetables and fruit had to preserve them (do something so they wouldn’t become bad) so they could keep them for a long time. They used several different methods to preserve their food:

  • Drying – removing the water from it.
  • Curing (used for meat) – drying it, hanging it in smoke, or covering it with salt.
  • Pickling – putting it in vinegar (a sour-tasting liquid) or salt water.
  • Freezing – keeping it at a very low temperature.
  • Canning – putting it into a container that all the air had been taken out of.

My mother and grandmother canned a lot of vegetables and fruit every year. If you went down into my grandmother’s cellar (area under the house), you would have seen shelves full of canned food like those in the picture. You would have also seen cured hams (meat from the upper part of a pig’s leg) and sausage (a tube, or round container, of skin that had been filled with a mixture of meat and spices).

The idea of canning your own food first appeared in the early 1800s and was made popular by Nicholas Appert, a French cook.

When someone cans their own food, they put the food into glass jars, like those in the photo. My mother, grandmother, and probably everyone else used Mason jars. The Mason jar was designed especially for canning in 1858 by an American named John Mason. For many years the Ball Corporation (company) made most of the Mason jars. People who can today still use Mason jars.

Home canning was necessary for people who grew their own food until refrigerators made it possible for them to freeze their food at home. During the 1800s, some companies began to put canned food into cans (metal containers) that were similar to what we see at the supermarket today. However, the canned foods we buy today didn’t appear in stores and supermarkets until the early part of the 1900s.

Home canning made a comeback (became popular again) in the 1960s and 70s and its popularity continues to grow. Today it’s part of a larger trend (the way something is changing) called artisanal food – home-grown food prepared in traditional ways. A growing number of people can food for their family to eat. Others prepare it to sell at farmer’s markets similar to the outdoor food markets that have been popular in Europe and other countries for many years.

My wife tells me that we’re having the pickled beets for dinner tonight. I hope they taste as good as they look!

What about where you live? Do people can fruit or vegetables? What about using traditional ways to make or do other things?

~ Warren Ediger, ESL tutor/coach and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo of canned food is from Wikipedia Commons.

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21 Responses to Pickled Beets In A Mason Jar

  1. Warren Edger says:

    If you’re wondering, the pickled beets were delicious!

  2. Dan says:

    Hello Warren.

    If you do not mind, I would like to write down the Italian version for those preserving methods. You know, just for those curious out there.

    Drying= Essiccare
    Curing= Essiccare/Affumicare
    Pickling= Sottoaceto
    Canning= Inscatolare/Sottovuoto

    Over here people do preserve in all those ways and even others.
    Not so much in my province because is mostly an industrialized place.
    One thing people do here, especially during the summer is buying tons of tomatoes at the supermarket for preparing tomato puree, I guess is called.
    You are even able to see people fighting for the tomatoes. It is rare but it happens.
    Kind of like what happens in the US during black Friday were people fight for a Tv. LOL.

    I do not personally do that, just because my diet is very basic/simple and around here there are literally dozens of supermarkets.
    For that reason you do not need to store huge quantities of food. My fridge right now is empty.

    Thanks bye.

  3. Parviz says:

    Hi everyone
    How have you been.
    Hey Dan, how are you.
    I can see you still get the first spot. Nice.
    As per the topic, pickled vegetable are every where.
    My mom canned food, too.
    Not only the way they prepared them, but also the taste was so different.
    Those days, my mom did it in front of our eyes. It was safe and tasty.
    Nowadays, industrial made canned food taste differently, and most of the time they add preservatives, to help keeping the contents longer.
    And if the canning process is not properly performed, microbes might grow inside the can or jar.
    I remember, sometime our pickled jars went into waste.
    Because they did not vacuum it adequately.
    But, by the time it was ready, it was delicious.
    These days, we don not eat a lot of tasty food, as we did in the past, as my family lived in a big farm.
    We kept livestock and grew our own vegetables, which provided us with enough ingredients to make healthy food besides pickled foods.
    But that is a history.

    P.S. It’s good to be back among you guys.
    I can’t wait to read your comments. Again

  4. Parviz says:

    Hey Dan,
    Don not you worry if some friends just dropped in on you.
    Why should you be keeping your fridge empty.
    I mean. No offense. Asking just out of curiosity.
    Best regards,

  5. peter says:

    Hi Warren ,
    I must say I m a pickle lover. I mean,I don’t like pickles , I like like them.
    In fact I m having lox-spread for breakfast : a cinomon raisin bagel toasted woth a velvety mixture of diced salmon with rich creamchesse ,and ,get that , the condiment I m using ,the topping if u will , are three rashers of pickles. The combination makes a very delectable breakfast.
    Well ,I m at Starbucks and I got the bagel from the bagel station next door. A fresh batch, just out of the oven.
    Mouth watery ,right.
    I literally accompany every food with pickles.
    In my book ,it is a very rich food. It offers a good supply of water and minerals. The salty solution makes love with my toung buds.
    As a pickle lover ,I tried every types of pickle out there. I mean,every kinds there is.
    Basically ,I threw everything at the wall to see what stuck. Well, ultimately , what tuck out to me was this super less typ of pickle.
    I don’t know if you check the ingredient label on the jar. If you do ,it is probable that u came to conclusion that every single jar out there carries a certain percentage of sugger in it. It is usually one or 2 percent. It gives a hint of sweetness to the entire jar content that I must say don’t appreciate.
    You know ,I don’t know what the hell they add sugger to it for.
    The whole idea of pickle is being salty.
    Well ,after a lot scouting on my party I finally managed to spot a forgien brand of pickle which doesn’t have a minute of salt in it.
    It is all salt ,salt ,and salt solution. Boy, it is like heavon in my mouth. Even the after taste , taste like heaven. The after taste lingers.

    You know the hint of super in other types throw me off.

    U know ,Warren
    I have not read the post yet ,I just saw pickle and start rambling on and on about it.

    I will attend to the pose at a later time.
    I m late for work as it is ,I had just a five minute window. so , while i was wolfing down my breakfast , I figured to drop a line here.

    I have to run folks
    Catch u later

  6. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Well, sadly I disagree with eating canned food, no matter what kind of food, and I tell you why. Firstly, because all the chemical used inside to keep he food appropriate for eating for a long time; secondly, because the taste that is modified by the process, thirdly, because the danger of microorganisms that can infect the food. I prefer to eat food in natural state. Fruit, vegetables and other food taste better when eaten in natural state, fresh and clean. But if you like to eat canned or Mason jars, it is up to you. The only thing I have to say is that I hope you be happy.

  7. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Happy and safe.

  8. Dan says:

    Hey Parv! can I call you Parv? short it’s better like Pete.

    No problem, you can ask me whatever you want. I do not get offended and in the eventuality that I do it just lasts for a few seconds.

    Now, regarding your question. That’s simple! I have no friends and nobody comes into my house.

    And for me, as I wrote before, over here we have dozens of supermarket all very close.
    That way I can stop getting back home and pick up whatever I want.
    For that reason I do not really need the fridge.

    As I wrote in the past, I am kind of a loner. As anything else there are ups and downs living like that.

    One of the ups is that you are not part of any group, would be that religious, political or whatsoever and you are able to reason with your own mind without being into a echo chamber
    where everyone agrees with anyone else.

    One of the downs of course is that it’s not easy. Since we are social animals.

    Bye, take care.

  9. Dan says:

    Hey Aecio.

    For what is my understanding, in all those system for preserving food mentioned by Warren, there is no chemicals involved.

    I am not a chemist, maybe salt is a chemical, I do not know about that.


  10. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Hi, Dan, it is not only salt. Beyond salt there are sulfur, sodium, phosphorus, substances used to preserve the food and to avoid microorganisms develop themselves by eating their source of energy. Believe me, the industry try to deceive us by saying lies. All they want is to sell their products and get money. It is the logic of capitalism.

  11. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Living and learning.

  12. Dan says:

    Ok..sooo, this “evil” organization called “industry”
    wants everyone poisoned because of this “evil” economic system called
    Right, now I see that.

  13. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Finally you saw the truth, Dan. Just in time. One more thing, people are eating fruit and vegetables with poison farmers use in plantation to avoid butterfly lays eggs and caterpillar eat leaves. And what about clone? Do you think it is a good thing eating clones? I don’t agree. Only God can save us!

  14. Dan says:

    Yeah, right…

    (long pause)

    Me staring at the emptiness…jaw slightly dropped..

    Yes, now I got it.

    Thanks, bye.

  15. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Dan, the poison farmers use to kill bugs is pesticide. Very strong poison. It contaminates harvest.

  16. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Eat organic food. They are more expensive, but healtier.

  17. Dan says:

    Hey Aecio.

    Have you ever considered looking at the outside world under many perspectives. Even one more rational.

    Look, of course most of what we do is imperfect and there always is room for improvement.

    Of course we need to see wrong things and act to fix those, but look at all we have achieved so far!

    Just to give you an example. If our current way of growing crops/food and distributing it is wrong or corrupted, could you explain to me the explosion
    in modern times of human population? and still growing at a pace that we need to fix that problem too!

    See! anything has problems attached like fleas on a cat.

    To me personally, I do not like the treatment of animals in the food industry. That is why I acted and stopped eating meat.
    And frankly after almost three years I do not even miss that.

    I am curious, since you often mention god, can I ask what religion/organization do you follow?

    Thanks, Dan

  18. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Hi, Dan. In fact you asked me some good questions and I have some answers for you. Let’s start with religion. I don’t follow any religion, and I can explain why. Every religion says that its God is the best. And I reply: But God is one and only one. So, why yours is the best? Why not mine? There is more than one? No, God is only one. About the super population in the world today, look at the Bible, Genesis 2, 28: “Be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” After that men followed God’s commandment and settled the earth. Today when I see many women pregnant I ask to myself: again? Does this world need more one baby? More people to use the sources like water, food, clothes, furniture and so on. Where men take their necessities? From earth. Digging holes, cutting trees, fighting one another, killing each other, running after richness, greedy, jealousy, envy and all the deadly sins just for having and not being. Do you think this is enough? Stop and think about more things that happen in this world. Do you agree with everything? Do you think mankind is in a good road?
    It is not the end yet. Later I will have more for you if you want so.

  19. Dan says:

    ( long pause)

    Me, like..Jaw on my chest…gaze fixated at the void..saliva dripping from
    my mouth.

    Yeah, please let us know more. For when the end of the World?


  20. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Dan, eating meat is not a sin. But if you can avoid it is better. Science says that our teeth set was not made for eating meat, but leaves, roots, fruit, in a raw state, if possible. When men came down from the trees long ago, they had to hunt and catch animals for fat. Fat contains energy for muscles, for movement, mainly for the brain. Our brain spends a lot of energy all the time and we need have that energy. About killing animals, it is the nature. If you don’t kill them, they will probably kill you. That is the law of nature. Of course, if you can survive without meat, go ahead. You spent only three years without eating meat? You are not a hero. Don’t be proud of yourself just because of that.
    If you have more doubts, just ask, but I have to add that it is my opinion. Do what you think is right. Don’t do what I tell you to do.

  21. Dan says:

    Hi! Me again..sorry.

    I forgot to mention that around here we have many old/ancient villas/mansions going back centuries.

    During one visit to this villa, I was surprised to see that they had this huge
    hole like a well cleverly positioned towards north.
    What they did with it was to fill it with snow during the winter that lasted till next summer and beyhond. That’s was their refrigerator.

    They also had cages anti-mosquitos.

    See! Necessity is the mother of invention.


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