Unbeatable Beets

Authored by Kata Hribar, University of Minnesota Public Health and Nutrition

Fresh beets are one of the most versatile vegetables of the summer harvest!  Red beets, golden beets, and red and white striped Chioggia beets are a vibrant and delicious addition to any dish.

Besides being pickled, beets can be roasted, boiled, steamed, microwaved or even eaten raw.  To prepare beets for cooking, simply rinse the skins.  Don’t peel them or trim off the tails at the bottom: this will keep the color from bleeding from the beets.  Remove the greens, but leave about an inch or two of the stem.  Once the beets have been cooked and cooled, the skin can easily be peeled away.  If you have about an hour, roasting is a great way to bring out the natural sweetness of beets.  Wrap the whole beets in foil like a potato and roast in the oven until a knife slides easily through.  Serve simply drizzled with olive oil and salt, or for a bolder flavor, try adding some orange juice and ginger or Dijon mustard and black pepper.

If you just can’t wait and want to eat your beets as soon as you get home, scrub the skins and grate.  Grated beets can be added to salads (even fruit salad!), made into a beet slaw, or sautéed with some butter and herbs.  The possibilities really are endless!

At the market, look for firm round beets with an intact slender tap root (the tail-like root at the bottom of the beet).  Beet greens should look bright and fresh and can be added to salads or cooked like any other leafy green.  To store beets, rinse the roots, cut off the greens (making sure to leave about an inch of the stem to prevent the color from bleeding) and place the beets, tap-root intact, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper.  Mature beets can be stored this way up to three weeks.  Don’t forget about the greens!  Wash the beet greens, wrap in a paper towel and store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.

Not only are beets delicious, but they are packed with nutrients!  Beets are a great source of folate, which can help protect against heart disease and anemia.  Beet greens are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, potassium and magnesium.