The word ‘beet’ is a shortened version of the actual name of the root vegetable, ‘beetroot.’ Beetroot comes in a variety of colors including maroon/red, white, yellow/golden, and multi-colored. Originally domesticated in the ancient Middle East for its greens, eventually used for its medicinal properties, was commonly used to help alleviate digestive issues and ailments involving the blood. Beets are particularly rich in folate, especially when consumed raw, and high in manganese and fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Beetroot contains a decent amount of vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Beet greens are also incredibly nutritious and provide an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, among other vitamins and minerals. The greens are commonly eaten raw, juiced, or sautéed. Cooking with Laura
Buying & Storing
When buying beets, look for ones smaller than 3-inches in diameter, as beets larger than this are often fibrous and woody. Avoid beets that are soft or appear shriveled as this can be a sign of them being improperly stored or starting to go bad. Beets will oftentimes have splits from irregular growth, but the beetroot is perfectly fine and the split can be trimmed with a paring knife. If the greens are still attached, look for greens that aren’t wilted or brown in color.
Store beet greens separate from the root. After separating, beets store well for about a week in perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator. Use beets while they are still firm and fresh. Beet greens are best used fresh. Store greens wrapped in a damp cloth or in a plastic bag in a drawer of the refrigerator. Beets can also be frozen or pickled for long-term storage.
Preparation – wash beets carefully without breaking the skin. Raw beets only need to be scrubbed, and the skin can be left on before being grated, sliced, or cubed. If cooking beets, either peel the beets beforehand or after, depending on the manner in which you’re cooking them. After cooking, the skin can typically be rubbed away once the beets have cooled.
Beets are known for their powerful red pigment which stains dish towels, wood cutting boards, and sinks, so be mindful about which surfaces come in contact with the beets. If your hands get stained while preparing the beets, use salt as a scrub to easily remove the stains from the skin.
Raw – grate or shave raw beets and add them to salads and slaws. You can cube raw beet and add it directly to soups or stews, just be aware that the beets will bleed and color the soup, especially in the case of red beets.
Boil – leave about 1-inch of stem on the beetroot and place in a large pot of water with salt and vinegar. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook the beets until they are fork-tender, about 30-40 minutes (longer if the beets are large). Once cooked, allow to cool before peeling.
Steam – place the whole beet in a pot with a steamer rack over about 1-inch of water. Bring the water to a boil and cover for about 30 minutes with the heat on high. Once the beets are fork-tender, remove, let cool, and then peel.
Whole Roasted – remove the stems and leave the beetroot intact. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the beets on aluminum foil large enough to make a sealed pouch. Individually wrap the beets or put several beets in a pouch, just be sure not to overcrowd. Drizzle the beets with olive oil to coat and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the beets in foil and seal tightly, leaving a little air inside the pouch with the beets. Roast the beets until fork-tender, about 40-60 minutes, and check every 20 minutes. Once done, remove the beets from the oven, let cool, and peel.
Roasted: remove the top and bottom of the beets, peel, and cut into wedges or cubes. Preheat the oven to 400°F, and toss the beets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the beets on a foil-lined sheet tray (preferably with a lip) and roast until the beets are fork-tender, about 20-30 minutes.
Greens – enjoy young beet greens tossed raw into a mixed green salad. Mature beet greens tend to be a little tougher and are best steamed, sautéed, or used in any dish that calls for mild, tender greens such as spinach or chard.