Beets, please.


three kinds of beets photo by lsimon

Aren’t they lovely? I have been enjoying this photo of beets from our garden for a few months now, and I wanted to share it. Last year we grew red, Chioggia, and golden beets. A full packet of seeds for each variety. We love beets, but that is a lot of beets.

We introduced our neighbors to beets, and they liked them. I hope you like them too.

This year we found a packet of mixed seeds. The varieties were not named. They were long and skinny red ones, round red ones, bright red ones, and goldens.

The deep red ones cook up the same rich color. By themselves, the bright red ones turn grayish pink (yuck). They take on the dark red color when cooked in liquid with dark beets though. The goldens are beautiful on their own, or with a blush if roasted next to the reds.

Usually, I can only buy the dark red round beets in the grocery store. And they are very good quality.

Storing fresh beets

The very small beet leaves you see in mixed salad greens are harvested before the root develops.

The greens you get with beetroot are too strong flavored and tough for my liking. Cut off the tops, leaving a few inches of the stems intact. Compost the greens if you are able. 

Store roots in a plastic bag in the veggie drawer of your fridge. They will keep for a few weeks.

What to do with beets?

With a laugh, and the wave of her hand, my mother-in-law would say, “throw them away.” I say, no way.

Most often, we roast or pressure cook them. Then serve them warm or cold, plain or dressed. We cook extra, keep in the fridge, and serve for up to a week.

I have also grated them fresh on a salad. Tasty, crunchy, and very messy.

Simple Roasted Beets

Scrub the beets, leave the stem ends on, and do not peel. Put in an oven safe pan. Add about 1 cup of water and cover with foil. Cook in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes to an hour.

Small, young beets take less time. “Mature” beets take longer to soften up. Pierce the beets to the middle to make sure they are tender.

When they are tender through and through, cool them enough to handle. Slip the skins off the beets. Cut into wedges, or slices, or dice.

Pressure cooked beets

In the hot summer, I like to quickly cook beets in a pressure cooker rather than heating up the oven for an hour. Start out the same as for roasted beets. Scrub the beets, leave the stem ends on, and do not peel.

Put beets into a pressure cooker, add 1/2 to 1 cup water. Bring to pressure and cook for 10-15 minutes. Here, again, the size and age of the beets will effect how long it takes to tenderize them.

Cool cooker and release pressure. Check for tenderness. If needed, cover again, bring to pressure and cook longer. When done, drain off the water. Cool the beets and proceed as for roasted beets.

Enjoy a fall or winter salad

Layer salad greens, cooked beets, refreshing mandarin oranges, sliced sweet onions, and chopped walnuts. Top with Orange Mustard Vinaigrette.

Or try greens, golden beets, dried cranberries, sliced red onions, pecans and Crystal Dressing.

Nutritionally speaking

See the World’s Healthiest Foods site for all the goodness in beets. P.S. They are loaded with folate.

What do you do with beets?