Gardening Articles: Health :: Cooking

Sweet Beets (page 3 of 3)

by Kris Wetherbee

In the Kitchen

Harvest greens whenever you wish (they are most tender when 4 to 6 inches long). Use beet greens as you would spinach and Swiss chard. When young, the tender, mild greens can be dressed with vinegar and tossed in salads or used in quick stir fries. Mature greens require slightly longer cooking and are delicious simply sauteed in garlic and olive oil and topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese.

About 50 days after sowing, the roots of most varieties are ready to harvest. For best flavor and tenderness, harvest roots when they are the size of golf balls. Young roots taste great lightly steamed, shredded and sauteed in butter, or pickled. Baking is ideal for any larger roots you missed, and beets small and large can be roasted to bring out their delicate, yet earthy flavor.

Baked Beets
Baking is one of the best ways to bring out the sweet, earthy intensity of beets. Although it's a lengthy process, the result is a rich, concentrated flavor unmatched by other cooking methods. Serve baked beets sliced in salads seasoned with walnut oil, vinegar, and grindings of salt and pepper, or topped with crumbled goat cheese and broiled for a few minutes.

Ingredients
4 to 6 medium beets, washed and trimmed with about 1 inch of stalk attached

Recipe
Preheat oven to 400° F. Wrap beets together in foil or parchment paper. Crimp the edges to seal and place them in the upper third of the oven. Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until tender but still firm. Slip off the darkened skins and trim off the stalks before serving. Serves 4

Beets taste great, but they can be messy in the kitchen. To keep their color from bleeding, try these tips:

  • Add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the cooking water to help stabilize the red pigment.
  • Leave 1 inch of leaf stalk attached to the root.
  • To remove beet stains from your hands, wash them with lemon juice.
  • Grow white or gold beets instead; they won't bleed.

Kris Wetherbee lives in Oakland, Oregon and has been a frequent contributor to National Gardening.

Photography by Didier Delmas

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