Beets

beet.jpgBeets: We grow the Dark Red, White, Golden and Chioggia.
 
Table beet (also known as garden beet, blood turnip or red beet) is a popular garden vegetable throughout the United States. Beet tops are an excellent source of vitamin A and the roots are a good source of vitamin C. The tops are cooked or served fresh as greens and the roots may be pickled for salads or cooked whole, then sliced or diced. Beet juice is a basic ingredient of Russian borscht. The garden beet is closely related to Swiss chard, sugar beet and mangel. Mangels (also known as stock beets) are considered too coarse for human consumption but are grown for stock feed.

Nutritional value and health benefits: Beets are particularly rich in folate. Folate and folic acid have been found to prevent neural-tube birth defects and aid in the fight against heart disease and anemia. Beets are also high in fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber helps to keep your intestinal track running smoothly and soluble fiber helps to keep your blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels on track.

Nutrition Facts (1 cup cooked, sliced)

    Calories 31
    Protein 1.5 grams
    Carbohydrate 8.5 grams
    Dietary Fiber 1.5 grams
    Potassium 259 mg
    Phosphorus 32 mg
    Folate 53.2 mcg
    Vitamin A 58.5 IU

Preparation and serving: Wash beets carefully without breaking the skin. Breaks and tears allow color and nutritional value to escape. After cooking the skin can be easily rubbed away when the beets have cooled. Beets are known for their powerful red pigment which stains dish towels, wooden cutting boards and sinks. Don’t worry about your hands. Salt easily removes stains from skin.

There are many schools of thought on cooking beets. They can be microwaved, steamed, boiled, pickled, roasted or eaten raw. Because beets contain more natural sugar than starch, they are particularly delicious roasted in a hot oven. Roasting concentrates the sugar rather than leaching them out into cooking liquid.

Beets of different size and color cook at different rates. Select beets uniform in size to prevent overcooking. They are done when easily pricked with a fork. Raw beets need only to be scrubbed and grated or sliced as thinly as possible. Borscht is a popular beet soup which can be served hot in winter and cold in summer.

Home preservation: Beets can be frozen, canned or pickled and dried beets yield fairly good results.

To Freeze -- Freezing does not improve the quality of beets, it only preserves the quality you begin with. Freezing magnifies imperfections and woodiness in over mature beets. Select deep, uniformly-red, tender, young beets for freezing.

  1. Wash gently and sort according to size. Trim tops, leaving _ inch of stem and tap root intact to prevent bleeding of color during cooking.
  2. Cook in boiling water until tender -- for small beets (1 inch in diameter) 25 to 30 minutes; for medium beets (2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter) 45 to 50 minutes.
  3. Cool promptly in cold water or ice water. Carefully rub peel away and trim the stem and root.
  4. Cut into slices or cubes. Package, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Seal and freeze for up to one year at zero degrees.

To Can -- Beets with a diameter of 1 to 2 inches are preferred for whole packs. Avoid canning beets more than 3 inches in diameter as they are often tough and fibrous.

  1. Remove leafy tops, leaving an inch of stem and tap root to reduce color loss. Scrub well. Cover with boiling water. Boil until skins slip off easily, about 15 to 25 minutes, depending on size. Cool.
  2. Remove skins, trim root and stem. Leave baby beets whole. Cut medium or large beets into 1/2 inch cubes or slices. Cut larger beets in half then slice.
  3. Pack into clean, hot jars, leaving 1 - inch head space. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to pints; 1 teaspoon to quarts, if desired.
  4. Fill jars to 1 inch from top with boiling water. Use a rubber spatula or plastic knife to remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids and process.
  5. Process in a Dial Gauge Pressure Canner at 11 pounds pressure or in a Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner at 10 pounds pressure. Process pints for 30 minutes and quarts for 35 minutes.

Recipes:

Roasted Beets with Dijon Dressing

  • 3 pounds beets, uniform in size (about 2 inches)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash, trim and dry beets. Leave 1/2 inch stem and root intact.
  2. Place beets in a large bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Using clean hands, toss to coat beets with seasoning.
  3. Place beets in a roasting pan in a single layer. Roast 45 minutes or until beets are tender.
  4. Remove from oven and cool enough to handle but still warm. While beets are cooling, make dressing.
  5. In a large serving bowl, whisk together mustard, orange juice, sugar, and vinegar. Whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and add rosemary. Set aside.
  6. Rub skins from beets and cut into quarters. Place warm beets in bowl and toss with dressing to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while beets absorb dressing. Serves 6.