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Beet Basics

Beets may have the highest sugar content of all the vegetables we grow at Anchor Run. But before the ancient Romans discovered this, only the beet greens were harvested. The roots were used solely for medicinal purposes. These days, we eat both roots and leaves.

You can store them—unwashed—in the refrigerator crisper where they will keep for two to four weeks. Cut the greens and their stems from the roots, so they do not pull moisture away from the root. (Leave about an inch of stem attached to each root.) Store the unwashed greens in a separate plastic bag where they will keep fresh for about four days.

Fun Facts:

  • Don't peel beets until after cooking. When bruised or pierced, beets bleed, losing some of their vibrant color and turning a duller brownish red.
  • To minimize bleeding, wash beets gently under cool running water, taking care not to tear the tough skin.
  • To cook beets, you can boil, steam, or roast them until just barely tender. Do not cook them so that they are as soft and bland as canned beets. (This is overcooking!)
  • Cook the greens as you would spinach, chard, or kale.
  • Leave a bit of the stem attached to prevent bleeding when cooking beets.
  • Beet juice can stain your skin. You can wear rubber gloves. If your hands become stained while peeling, rub some lemon juice on them to help remove the stain.
  • EEK! Morning after beets: Don’t be surprised (in fact, warn your kids!) when you go to the bathroom and “see pink” in the toilet. Just say to yourself, “Oh yes, I ate beets last night. How pretty!”
  • Too many beets? Raw beets do not freeze well since they tend to become soft upon thawing. Freezing cooked beets is fine; they'll retain their flavor and texture.

Beets are versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked. To cook, trim the greens, leaving about 1 inch of stems attached. Keep beets whole to retain flavor and nutritive value. When beets are tender, wait until cool enough to handle, slip off skins and stems, and cut each beet into wedges to serve.

Boiling: Put the beets into a deep saucepan and cover them with water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to medium, and cook 20—60 minutes until fork tender. Cooking time will depend on the size of the beets.

Roasting: Preheat oven to 475°F. Wrap beets tightly in double layers of foil to make packages and roast until tender, about 1 hour, depending on the size of the beets.