Farming provides lots of opportunity to try new things, mix up your routine, and give yourself some fresh challenges. Mr. Kirby is constantly adding to his already packed list of things to grow, (often to Mrs. Kirby's chagrin). It's always satisfying to see a new crop thriving in the field! Not five years ago, you couldn't find a single root crop on our farm. But since then beets have gone onto the list of favorites with the occasional sweet potatoes, radishes, and sometimes onions.
Trim beet greens from root. Rinse the greens, shake off excess water and then store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Store beet roots in a separate bag - the roots will keep in the fridge for quite a while!
Long-term Storage: Fully cooked beets can be frozen in freezer-safe containers. Beets can also be pickled and stored for months.
- Beets are usually eaten pickled or boiled, but they are also great roasted or raw.
- To boil, but whole, unpeeled beets of similar size in a pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender. Different sized beets will require different cook times, from 15 minutes for very small beets, to 50 minutes for very large beets. If your beets are different sizes, take out the smaller ones as they're done. For an easy way to remove the skin, rub beets in a towel after they've cooled slightly.
- Roasted beets are wonderfully rich and sweet. Just cut the roots into one inch chunks, toss with a little olive oil and salt, then spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender.
- Let's not forget the greens! Beet greens are an excellent opportunity to add a serious dose of nutrients to your diet. They can be sauteed, steamed, or boiled.
- Top a leafy green salad with roasted or steamed beets, Blue cheese or feta. Add some walnuts or pecans paired with balsamic or citrus vinaigrette finishes it all off nicely.
- Beets are very popular paired with the flavor of oranges, balsamic vinegar (or just about any vinegar), fennel.
- Grated raw beets and carrots are a beautiful and delicious salad topper. Toss the grated veggies with a little vinaigrette and allow to marinate for a moment for an added punch of flavor.
Beets have been around since ancient times. Believed to originate in prehistoric North Africa, beets were eventually found on the seashores of Europe. Until later cultures such as the Romans began cultivating beets, only the greens were eaten. Brought to more Northern parts of Europe by the Romans, beets were first used as animal food. They didn't gain popularity as human food until the 16th century. Beets have been cultivated in the United States since before the 1800's. Beets were first cultivated for sugar production in the 19th century. Beet sugar accounted for 20% of the world's sugar production in 2009!
“Beets are unique in their rich combination of betalain pigments. Both betacyanins (red-violet pigments) and betaxanthins (yellow pigments) can be found in beets. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are betalains that have gotten special attention in beet research.
“Beets are also an excellent source of heart-healthy folate and a very good source of the antioxidants manganese and vitamin C as well as heart-healthy potassium. Beets are a good source of digestive-supportive dietary fiber, free radical scavenging copper, bone-healthy magnesium, and energy-producing iron and phosphorus.” - whfoods.com