Beets are easy to take for granted. If you've only eaten them canned or pickled, it’s understandable if you’re not a fan of this humble vegetable. But fresh beets are a universe removed from their canned cousins. Although they’re available year round, early spring and summer beets have the sweetest, most vibrant flavor.
Common beets are deep garnet in color and round in shape, generally averaging 2.5-3 inches in diameter, but farmer’s markets are the place to go for freshness and variety. Here you’ll find colorful hybrids such as Chioggia ("candy cane"), golden beets and white beets, as well as golf-ball-sized baby specimens. Baby beets are increasingly popular and tend to be sweeter and milder than their mature counterparts.
Why choose organic beets?
- Beets are root vegetables that grow beneath the soil, so the quality and health of the soil is an integral part of the quality of the beets. Choosing organic beets ensures that they’ve been grown in healthy soil that’s free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
- At Earthbound Farm, we raise our organic produce using farming methods that regenerate the soil and protect the health of the land and the people who work on it. Organic food is the healthiest choice for people and the planet — and we think organic beets taste better, too!
How to select and store beets
- Look for firm beets with relatively smooth, unblemished skin, deep color and bright, perky greens (if available). The main root should be intact, with at least 1/2 inch of stems attached, so the beets don’t bleed during cooking.
- Try to select beets of about the same size (otherwise their cooking times will differ). Avoid very large specimens, as these often have a hard, woody core.
- Once home, trim the greens, leaving about an inch of stem. Refrigerate your beets in a plastic bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to 1 week; the greens can be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to 2 days. Wash beets and greens just before using. Enjoy your beets as soon as possible; kept too long, their sugars turn to starch and their flavor deteriorates noticeably.
Tips for using beets
- Beets are a beautiful, versatile addition to any meal. Celebrate the change of seasons with a gorgeous platter of spring vegetables — an assortment of jewel-like baby beets, tiny potatoes and turnips, finger-thick carrots and asparagus. Steam them all separately, then serve them with a bowl of aioli for a spectacularly vibrant and healthy treat.
- Beets can be juiced or peeled and finely grated raw in salads. Roasting concentrates their sugars and intensifies their trademark sweetness. Beets are also delicious steamed, baked or boiled (but not overcooked).
- Cook beets in their skins to preserve both flavor and color; after cooking, they’re easy to peel with an old dishtowel or paper towels. Red beets contain a powerful dye called betacyanin. Once cut, beets will stain anything they touch a brilliant magenta color. Wear gloves to protect your hands when handling the roots. Cook beets of different colors separately to retain their colors.
- Don’t forget the greens! The leaves on baby beets are mild and tender; they can be used raw in salads, tossed with pasta or braised slowly in olive oil for a delicious side dish.