It’s a two for one sale when you bring home beets with the greens attached, since both are edible! The contrast is amazing between the hardy, crunchy, often rough looking exterior of raw beets and the transformation that takes place once cooked, becoming wonderfully soft and buttery. They have a rich, sweet earthiness that delights the palette.
HOW TO CHOOSE
While beets are available throughout the year, the most tender beets are harvested between June and October.
Choose small or medium-sized root vegetables that are firm, smooth-skinned and deeply coloured.
Avoid beets that have spots, bruises or soft, wet areas, all of which indicate spoilage. Shriveled or flabby should also be avoided as these are signs that the roots are aged, tough and fibrous.
While the quality of the greens does not reflect that of the roots, if you are going to consume this very nutritious part of the plant, look for greens that appear fresh, tender, and have a lively green color.
Store beets unwashed in the refrigerator crisper where they will keep for two to four weeks if kept very dry. Cut the majority of the greens and their stems from the roots to avoid its moisture being pulled away. Refrigerate the unwashed greens in a separate open or perforated plastic bag for a maximum of four days to experience the taste of freshness.
Freezing Raw beets do not freeze well since they tend to become soft upon thawing. Freezing cooked beets is fine; retaining their flavour and texture.
Stains ~ Stop! Before beginning preparation, remember that its deep beautiful colour has strong staining power. Wear old clothes or an over-sized apron while preparing beets. As for your hands, wrap them in plastic bags, an inexpensive protective glove.
The greens need to be simmered in a covered pot of water or chicken stock for about 20 minutes, until desired tenderness. Prior to this step, however, sauté some red onion and garlic. Then add 1/2 cup of water or chicken stock. Cover and simmer. Close to the end of this process, add a tablespoon of orange juice, salt & pepper to taste. The chopped up beet tops will appear wilted down like spinach.
Add to a stir fry with some soy sauce much like a cabbage. The combination tastes fabulous and adds a nice colour.
Beet Roots are easy to prepare, sweet and wonderful to eat. To discourage colour bleeding, cook beets whole, in 1 or 2 tablespoons of orange juice and a pot of water. Simply put each beet in a paper towel and rub the skin with your hands to peel away. Smaller, younger beets may be so tender that peeling will not be necessary after they are cooked.
Most commonly used for pickling, the sweet taste of beets is, also, delicious when simmered in stews, used uncooked and shredded on salads, juiced (in moderation since they are potent!), steamed, roasted (with rosemary and olive oil), boiled, or braised.
Sauce Reduce the watery leftovers for a delicious sweet flavour or as a natural food coloring! You can even use this sauce for an appealing salad dressing (when mixed with some olive oil) or a creative addition to desserts.
Roasted Sweetness is enhanced when covered and roasted whole, about an hour depending on the size (check at 40 minute) at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, remove from the oven but keep covered. Thirty minutes later they are ready to peel. Then you can serve as a side dish warm with a little salt and olive oil, or use them in a salad with oranges and red onions, or shred them over salad greens (raw beets may be used).
Complimentary Seasonings Beets go well with a bleu or feta cheese and your choice of walnuts or hazelnuts. Olive oil, vinegar (balsamic or red wine), and orange juice blend to make a wonderful dressing. Try adding orange zest, dill, rosemary, black pepper, salt, or sour cream to your creations.
The humble beet deserves more respect. Is an excellent source of folate & very good levels of manganese & potassium. In addition, they possess an impressive amount of nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. Boiling can actually increase the nutrient value, pickling reduces it.
Green tops are rich in beta carotene, calcium and iron.
With a high sugar content, beet roots are an important raw material for the production of refined sugar. Interestingly, they contain more sugar than all other vegetables, yet are very low in calories.
Beets (root, raw), 1 cup (135g)
Total Fat: 0.23g
*Excellent source of: Folate (148mcg)
*Good source of: Potassium (442mg), and Vitamin C (6.6mg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.
Swiss Chard is a member of the Beet family and may be cooked accordingly.
If you start to see a red or pink colour to your urine or stool when you increase your consumption of beets, don’t be alarmed. This harmless condition is called beeturia.