B is for Beets
Add some colour and flavour to your meals with this sweet root vegetable.
Selection and Storage
Beet season runs through the summer and into fall, although they are available from storage year-round. While many supermarkets carry only one type of beet (red), a number of heritage varieties are available, such as golden beets. Visit your farmer’s market or on-farm market in the fall to find interesting varieties of beets and other produce.
The best-tasting beets are small to medium and firm with smooth skins.
Eat beet greens as soon as possible after purchase. Unwashed roots can be stored in the refrigerator in plastic bags for up to a few weeks, although it’s better to eat them sooner than later.
Beet greens are delicious lightly steamed, boiled, sautéed or stir-fried. Also, the tender young greens can be added to salads raw.
The roots can be eaten raw or cooked; either way, be careful with red beets as their juice will stain. Try handling raw beets in the sink. If you’re cooking them, don’t remove the skin until after cooking and make sure to leave the top intact when chopping off the tops. Be careful when washing beets before cooking as their juice will leak if the skin is broken.
Grated raw beets are a tasty way to brighten up the flavour and colour of a salad. Raw beets are also popular for juicing and are often mixed with carrots or other vegetable juices. Beets can be cooked in many ways – boiling is probably the most common, although they can also be steamed, roasted or microwaved. Once cooked, the skin will slip right off and you’ll be left with a bright red gem perfect for a side, salad or soup.
Beets have been cultivated since prehistoric times in the Mediterranean area and were originally grown only for their leaves. During the Roman Empire, people began to eat the roots as well. Today, beets and beet dishes are still widely popular throughout Europe.
One cup (250 mL) of cooked diced beets contains 50 calories. Beets are a good source of folacin and a source of vitamin C and potassium.