How long will my simple home fridge pickled beets last?
May 12, 2012 2:57 PM   Subscribe

If I roast some beets, place them in glass mason jars along with some chopped onions/herbs/salt and pepper- and then cover everything with vinegar, screw the lids on and place the jars in my fridge- how long should the jars stay good?
posted by long haired child to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The beets will eventually soak in vinegar and become barely edible. Did you mean something else?
posted by Nomyte at 3:20 PM on May 12, 2012

I had to check a bunch of places to figure this out but you're basically making pickled beets with roasted beets instead of boiled, and without the actual canning process. So according to Martha Stewart - they'll be good for three weeks in the fridge. If you want them to last longer or to be able to store them at room temperature, you need to properly can them in boiling water.

Nomyte, I believe you meant "will soak in vinegar and become even more delicious"
posted by hydrobatidae at 3:48 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oh, and if you're not boiling the vinegar and sterilizing the jars before refrigerating the beets, I'm guessing you won't get three weeks in the fridge.
posted by hydrobatidae at 3:51 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't think I've ever pickled anything in undiluted vinegar. Apart from the potential to cause minor acid burns, I would imagine that vegetables sitting in a vinegar bath in the fridge would be "good" indefinitely.
posted by Nomyte at 3:55 PM on May 12, 2012

My mum pickles beetroot like this, though parboils the beetroot rather than roasting them. Using neat malt vinegar (not boiled) and sterilised jars they keep for a good few months just in the cupboard - in fact, they're presumed not to be 'done' and ready to eat until they've been soaking for a week or so (Mrs Beeton agrees with us on this, though she boils her vinegar). The acidity of the vinegar is what preserves the pickled vegetable - so using neat vinegar is important if you want them to keep.

This does make very powerful-tasting pickles. I've never had acid burns or anything like that from them, but if all you're used to are shop-bought pickles with diluted vinegar then you're in for something of a taste explosion.
posted by Coobeastie at 4:13 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Depends on the type of vinegar. With basic white vinegar, this would likely last you a couple of weeks. White vinegar is pretty nasty, and will eventually turn your beats into goo, though. so you wouldn't want them any longer than that. This is not food safety advice. This is simply a story about me doing a very similar thing.
posted by Gilbert at 4:21 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I do this (except with boiled, peeled, and sliced beets covered with boiling white vinegar) and it keeps in my fridge . . . I want to say indefinitely. We eat it after many many months and it's fine.
posted by agent99 at 6:07 PM on May 12, 2012

According to this paper, "there have been no known outbreaks of acid-resistant pathogens in acidified vegetable products" but they do go on to say that "fruit juices with pH values (3.5 to 4.0) similar to some acidified vegetable products have had outbreaks of disease resulting from E. coli O157:H7 contamination." So you're probably fine, but investing in some pH paper may be appropriate. You can get it from the people who supply wine and beer makers. (Pro tip - putting a drop of your final brine (after the veggies have soaked in it a bit) on your pH paper sounds more appetizing to me they dunking pH paper into the food - just saying.)

Looking at less modern and technical evidence that this will not kill you dead, people used to do open crock pickling all the time, with live bacterial cultures in there, and then proceeded to kept the whole mess until the next harvest, and eat it and live. They pickled things in the Roman empire but canning and even germ theory were not invented until centuries later.

This is not to say that you can't do it wrong and end up with a moldy mess, but this usually has more to do with stuff floating above the pickling brine than some super acid loving pathogens getting in there. (If you actually make sauerkraut, you keep the cabbage submerged with a dinner plate weight down with a jar of water, and you still have to keep scraping the mold off the top of your ferment. Bon apetit.

I'd recommend looking at some old cookbooks to avoid wasting a lot of time and money on ingredients.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:17 PM on May 12, 2012

Most recipes for "refrigerator pickles," which is what this method is, give you 1-3 weeks, and despite the low chances of getting sick, I wouldn't mess with it. Stick to the guidelines, 1-3 weeks is fine, beyond that, iffy. It's not real canning.
posted by Miko at 8:31 PM on May 12, 2012

Oh, and in case it wasn't clear, keep them in the fridge. Not in the nice warm cupboard.
posted by Miko at 8:37 PM on May 12, 2012

Put a spoon or two of sugar to cut the insane acidity of the vinegar!
posted by windykites at 9:02 PM on May 12, 2012

Here's a recipe that gives a pretty standard set of proportions for a pickling brine.

Refrigerator pickles are generally said to keep for two weeks to three weeks. I have seen some recipes that say a month, but that seems iffy to me.

If you want to preserve them for longer, you'll have to can them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:04 PM on May 12, 2012

I've kept casually-made refrigerator pickles for over a month, easy. That's in vinegar that's been boiled, and is diluted 1:1 with water. Mostly I've done this with carrots, which are sturdier than beets -- the beets might go mushy before that. We keep pickled chiles in the fridge for months and months and they're fine, with no degradation of texture, according to the following:

I would say to go ahead and sterilize your jars by either running them through the dishwasher or submerging them in water and boiling for 10 minutes. Put your onions/herbs/salt/pepper in a vinegar/water solution and bring to a boil. Pack beets into jars. Pour your brine over the beets, leaving about 1/4 space at the top. Tap them on the counter to get the bubbles out. Put lids on. Let them cool down a bit then get them into the fridge. Should be fine for many months.
posted by desuetude at 12:05 AM on May 13, 2012

Acid burns from vinegar? While I wouldn't drink glacial acetic acid I still wouldn't be concerned about it causing anything like an acid burn. Vomit is significantly more acidic than vinegar and while it can eat away at your teeth if you are bulimic people don't get mouth sores from vomiting.

Personally I would look for a nice pickled beet recipe that will preserve them indefinitely. In the long run use your nose, if they smell off then they are off and don't eat them.
posted by koolkat at 2:24 AM on May 13, 2012

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