Season for Beets June - October
Initially it was the greens that were eaten, but as time wore on, our attention turned to the root - the brilliantly-colored, sweet-tasting beet - and now you'd be hard pressed to find a person who consumes beet greens at all. This firm, round root vegetable's leafy tops are not only edible but highly nutritious, as are the roots. Though we're most familiar with the deep magenta-colored beetroot, they can range in color from the deepest red to the purest white - all stunning - but the most so being the Chioggia or candy cane, as it's aptly called with its red and white rings. Let it be said: Fresh beets are remotely removed from their canned cousins, we're just saying... Throw those preconceived notions to the wind.
How to Buy and Store Beets
When choosing beets, look for crisp, bright green leafy tops, and roots themselves that feel firm to the touch and relatively smooth. Also, opt for those with unblemished skin and deep, vibrant color. Beets on the smaller side are generally more tender than their hefty counterparts, which can have a tough core. If the beet greens are attached you should remove them as soon as you can, for they leach moisture from the bulb. Leave about an inch of the stem attached to prevent loss of nutrients and color during cooking. The sooner you eat your beets, the better, as if kept too long, their sugars turn to starch. Keep your wrapped beets in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, but the greens should be eaten within a couple of days.
How to Cook Beets
Beets are very versatile, but also pretty sensitive. Take care not to puncture the beet's skin as it will leach both color and vital nutrients, also lost when overcooked. They can be juiced, or eaten raw in salads when scrubbed and finely grated - which is your healthiest option. But they can also be steamed, roasted, or boiled, roasting them for 40-60 minutes (depending on their size) being our favorite route. No matter which technique you choose, cook beets in their skins to preserve both flavor and color. And hold onto those greens. They can be used raw in salads, tossed with pasta, or braised lightly for a wholesome side dish - related as they are to Swiss chard.
Side note: Red beets can stain just about anything they touch. You may want to wear gloves to protect your hands, or you can use lemon juice to rub out the color from your skin. You may also want to cook beets of different colors separately to retain their colors.
Health Benefits of Beets
Beets aren't brilliantly-colored for no reason, for they have a uniquely rich combination of betalain pigments - betacyanins in regard to red-violet pigments and betaxanthins in the yellow pigments. These phytonutrients provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support for maintaining our healthy bodies for years and decades to come. Beets are a major source of cartenoids to ensure healthy eyes, folate and potassium to keep your heart pumping properly, fiber for digestive care, vitamin C and copper to attack those free radicals, magnesium for healthy bones, as well as energy-producing iron and phosphorus. It's time to convert to the beet team.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Beets
Just because beets grow underground does not mean the chemicals used above ground don't infiltrate this veggie. When you buy your beets organically you can feel better eating both the root and its green top knowing they haven't been exposed to hazardous chemicals, and that they haven't been genetically modified. Moreover, supporting organic farmers means you are contributing to more sustainable practices that are all around better for the Earth.
We see no reason to eat your beets from a can unless fresh ones aren't available to you. Not only do canned foods contain the controversial Bisphenol A (or BPA), but canned beets really lose a lot of their allure, taste- and texture- wise.
Looking for a quick breakfast? Try these delicious whole rolled oats that cook up in just a few minutes. Or make this recipe in large batches on the weekend so you have for the week.