Beetroot or beets has been eaten since Antiquity and had become very popular since mid-19th century. Beets come in a wonderful range of of colors, from red to golden yellow to striped. red beets are the most common and come from central Europe. Beets are really delicious, and their sweet and earthy flavor is just as good served cold as it is hot. Raw beets keep for weeks in the fridge and for several days once cooked , so it’s a good staple in your pantry and won’t turn spoiled.
Beet is also known to be a good source of Vitamin C and folic acid.
Uses of beets in cooking
The red roots of beets can be eaten either grilled, boiled, or roasted as a cooked vegetable, cold after cooking — in a salad, with oil and vinegar —, or raw and shredded, either alone or combined with any other vegetable. A lot of commercial production is sold under plastic as boiled beets or into pickles. In Eastern Europe, the Borscht, a beet soup, is a very popular dish. Spiced beet slices is a side dish in traditional Indian cuisine.
The green leaves of the beet are also edible. You can serve them boiled or steamed, and have a similar taste and texture as spinach.
Buying and storing
Unlike most root vegetables, size is not really important when it comes to beets. Large beets are just as good as smaller specimens, and they’re easier to handle. The presence or green leaves ensure the freshness; in they are yellowish, it’s likely the root begins to dehydrate. Beets should be firm en you buy them; avoid any roots that are soft. To store beets, cut the leaves — and cook them quickly — and keep the beetroots wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator.
Scrub them well under cold water. Keep about an inch of the leaves to prevent bleeding. You should always peel the beets after they have cooked, and not before.
Best cooking methods
As said above, beets can be cooked in many ways: baking in foil, roasting, braising and glazing. They should be tender when cooked. Pick with a thin knife to check. It’s better to overcook beets than undercooking them but try to stick to the cooking time mentioned on recipes.
Headline picture by Stacy Spensley