How to Cook and Prepare Beets

Beets are one of those vegetables that you could either enjoy eating, or not. Some people think it tastes like dirt, maybe because they didn’t peel them before eating! Though, if properly handled they are heavenly. Beets are sumptuous when cooked, the natural sweetness comes out, and they’re also delectable even in their raw state. You could grate them, peel them, or even add them to salads.

Varieties

  1. Red Beets – Basic, earthy, and sweet. This is how you’ll describe the red beets. Likewise, most people think of red beets every time they hear the word, “beet.” The great thing about red beets is they have a longer shelf life compared to other veggies. They do get a bit less tender when stored, but they also become sweeter along the way.
  2. Golden Beets – They’re less sweet than the red beets. Their flavor is more mellow and less earthy too. When served roasted or in salads, golden beets add a bright yellow color to the dish.
  3. Chiogga Beets (Striped Beets) – They’re naturally striped. Some chiogga beets have a subtle orange-and-yellow combination while others have a brilliant cream-and-red candy cane effect. Use them as you would with your regular beets. However, keep in mind that the stripes fade out when cooked.
  4. Baby Beets – They’re the beets that are pulled to thin the field in order to make room for other beets. That’s why they’re relatively smaller. Baby beets are very tender and they have beautiful luscious greens. Unlike with older beets, there’s no need to throw these greens when serving your baby beets.

Selection and Storage

Selection

  1. As much as possible, look for beets that are hard and firm. If it’s soft, that means it’s too old.
  2. The skin should also be smooth.
  3. Look at the leaves. In case you’re purchasing beetroots with leaves, which is preferable, say to it that they’re moist, green, and not wilted.
  4. Wilted and yellowed leaves are some of the indications that the beetroot is pretty old.
  5. Opt for unblemished beets with firm roots. Damaged beets could be eaten right away, but it couldn’t be stored.
  6. It’s advisable to pick the smaller ones over the larger ones. Smaller beets are usually sweeter.
  7. Older beets tend to lose its sugar, which is converted to starch. This makes the texture “fluffy” and the taste, less palatable.

Storage

  1. To store beets, start by trimming the leaves 2 inches from the roots. The leaves will absorb the moisture from the beets, that’s why it’s advisable to trim it.
  2. Never trim the tail.
  3. Store the leaves in a separate plastic bag and make sure to use them within 2 days.
  4. The root bulbs could be bagged as well and stored in the refrigerator crisper. It could last for 7-10 days.
  5. Canned or cooked beets could be refrigerated up to a week.
  6. Fresh cooked beets could be frozen for up to 10 months. Peel the beets first before freezing. Put it in an air tight container or baggies and make sure it’s completely sealed. You could either freeze them as a whole or cut them into pieces.
  7. Fresh beets could be stored in the refrigerator freezer for 10 days. Remove the leaves and stalks; and keep them in a separate bag. These could be eaten too.

Preparation

Nowadays, you can easily purchase canned beetroots. However, it would be fresher and way better when used from scratch.

  1. Start by removing the leaves and stalks using a knife or kitchen shears. Leave 2-3 cm of the stalk.
  2. Rinse well. Now your beets are ready for cooking. It’s as simple as that.

If it will be eaten raw:

  1. Put on gloves in order to prevent the beetroot from staining your hands.
  2. Carefully peel each beetroot. You can use a vegetable peeler for this.
  3. Grate the peeled beetroot. You can add them to your salad or mix with yogurt to make a dip.

Ways to Cook Beets

Cooking beets could be a cumbersome task because of the time it takes if you use the conventional methods like baking or boiling. As a matter of fact, old cook books would even tell you that you must spend 3-4 hours in the kitchen just to prepare this. Maybe that’s how it used to be, but with all the modern equipment we have now, and the different ways we can cook our beets, it’s possible to accomplish this task in less than 30 minutes.

Baked Beets

If you’re up for something new, you could try baking or roasting your beets instead of cooking it in water. This will give a different taste and flavor to your vegetable dish. Likewise, they do look and taste better when baked than boiled. However, it could take some time if you want to cook them properly.

  1. Wash and dry the beets. Bake them at 375 F with a very little water until they become tender.
  2. You could also wrap them individually in aluminum foil, or bake them directly. The baking temperature will vary, depending on the oven being used. Though, usually, it would take 50 minutes or more to bake them.

Pickled Beets

When you’re cooking beets, baked or boiled, it’s always practical to make more than what’s needed for one meal and just pickle the remaining ones. There are several recipes for pickled beets, some call for more sweetness, and some need various spices and a horseradish for a more piquant taste. Pickled beets make an excellent relish and if kept in a cool place, you could keep them for an indefinite period.

  1. Peel the cooked beets and cut them into pieces. However, if they’re already small, you can pickle them whole.
  2. Put them in a glass jar and slowly pour hot vinegar that’s sweetened slightly and flavored with different spices.

Pickling beets are a great way to preserve their natural nutrients. Also, they make a delicious and healthy condiment for various dishes and could be served as starters to improve digestion.

Microwaving

When it comes to speed cooking and maximum preservation of nutrients, a microwave oven is hard to match. Beets cooked in the microwave usually have a vibrant red color and fine flavor. Moreover, with careful attention, you could achieve a very delicious texture. Normally, it’ll only take 10-15 minutes to microwave a beet.

Grilling

You could grill your beets as a whole or slice them into small pieces. Wrap them in a foil and season with various herbs and spices. You could also grill them directly on a rack.

Pressure-cooking

  1. For 2 1/2 inch unpeeled beets, cook them with 1 1/2 cups of water at 15 pounds of pressure for about 15 minutes.
  2. For smaller beets, cook them with a cup of liquid for 12 minutes.

Cooking Tips

  1. So the flavor, color, and juices wouldn’t escape when being cooked, beets should be boiled with their skins on. A slice or nick in the skin could result to flavor and/or color loss. That’s why, an inch of both the root ends and the stalks are left on when beets are being boiled.
  2. In case that you’ve accidentally bought tough, out of season beets, don’t throw them away. Instead, soak them in cold water overnight. This will help them cook faster.
  3. To keep their color bright, adding 1/4 cup of white vinegar for every 8 cups of boiling water would do the job.
  4. To tell whether your beets are done, try to pierce them right in the middle with a fork. The flesh should be tender.
  5. As much as possible, select beets that are uniform in size– so that they’ll be cooked evenly. If you can’t avoid getting beets in different sizes, just remove the smaller ones from the source of heat once they’re done.

Trivia

  • Raw beets could make your salad extra tasty! Just wash, peel, and grate them on your salads.
  • You can tell how fresh the beets are by their leafy greens. If they’re still attached and it looks healthy, that means they’re freshly harvested. However, if there are no leaves attached, they’re still good, but not as fresh.
  • Raw beets could be stored in the fridge for a few weeks.

Health Benefits

Despite the fact that beets have the highest sugar content of all veggies, they could still be eaten a few times a week (and their greens could be eaten as much as you want). Aside from their sweet, earthy flavor, their powerhouse of nutrients could improve your health in a number of ways.

  1. High in vitamins and minerals – Magnesium, potassium, fiber, iron, phosphorus, vitamins B, C & A, beta-cyanine, beta-carotene, and folic acid. These are just some of the vitamins and minerals found in beets. For women who are pregnant, eating beets could be very healthful.
  2. Cleanses the body – Beets work as a purifier of the blood and and an excellent tonic the liver. Likewise, they could eradicate various forms cancers.
  3. Improves mental health – Beets contain betaine, a substance used in order to treat depression. It also has tryptophan which is a substance that eases the mind and improves the sense of well-being.
  4. Lowers blood pressure – Beets could also lower the blood pressure. Therefore, if you’re already stressed about not having any beets, get a two-fer by munching on one (pun intended).
  5. Serves as an acid tester for the stomach – Physicians use beet juice and beets to measure the stomach acid levels of the body. Have you noticed that consuming several beets, it makes your urine pink? That indicates that your stomach acid level is low.
  6. Source of energy – Even though they’re high in sugar content, they’re low in calories. Not all foods found in the natural world are as healthy as beets in this regard.
  7. Considered to be nature’s Viagra – For those who aren’t aware, ancient Romans used beets medicinally as an aphrodisiac. The boron found in beets are responsible for the fast reproduction of sex hormones.

Great Beet Recipes

Beet Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Basil

Beet-Bruschetta-with-Goat-Cheese-and-Basil

Roasted Beet and Blackberry Spinach Salad

Roasted-Beet-and-Blackberry-Spinach-Salad

Oven Roasted Beet Chips

Oven-Roasted-Beet-Chips

Beet, Goat Cheese, and Grilled Onion Salad

Beet-Goat-Cheese-and-Grilled-Onion-Salad

Beet, Honey & Yogurt Smoothie

Beet-Honey-Yogurt-Smoothie