In Season Now: Beets
I love buying bunches of beets in the spring and fall because it’s a 2-for-1 deal. You get the beet roots and the beet greens for the price of one bunch. Beets are closely related to Swiss chard, and the greens are virtually indistinguishable in taste.
Unbeknownst to many, beets actually come in a number of colors. The deep red/purple ones are most common, but you can find many other types at farmers markets. Some red varieties include Bull’s Blood (dark red), Red Ace (medium red), and Chioggia, an Italian heirloom that’s red-and-white striped inside. Golden and white beets are sweeter and a little less earthy-tasting than their red counterparts. You can also find any variety sold as baby beets. These are smaller, more tender, and sometimes as small as a radish.
Tips for choosing + storing beets:
You want to look for firm, plump beet roots. If you’re buying them loose (without greens), look for ones that look least dry on the top where the greens were removed. If greens are attached, they should be crisp and glossy. If the top of the root looks a little discolored, it’s totally fine, it just popped out of the earth a bit before harvest (as seen in the photo above). Choosing the size is a matter of preference. The smaller ones are often more tender.
Make sure you remove the greens from the roots as soon as you bring them home from the store or market. The greens will continue to draw nutrients (and color) from the roots if left attached.
Store roots and greens in the refrigerator. If greens look wilted, shock them in an ice water bath, dry, then store in an airtight container. Roots will usually last over a week in the fridge. If they get a little soft, soak them in water for a couple hours and they’ll crisp back up. The greens are best eaten within a few days.
How to prepare beets + greens:
A word of caution: I recommend wearing gloves and being mindful of clothing/surfaces anytime you’re handling red beets (unless they’re still whole). The pigment has a tendency to stain skin, clothes, wood cutting boards, etc! Wipe up beet juice spills immediately and soak stains right away.
Greens are easily sautéed, and make a great addition to stir-fries, soups, stews, quiches, or frittatas. Chop stems and sauté first before adding chopped leaves. Use them as you would swiss chard.
Beetroots can be eaten raw when shaved thinly. They are best raw within a few days of harvest.
Juice them. A little goes a long way, but they’re super nutrient dense.
Pickle and can them. This is a great way to store the spring/fall bounty for later. Add hard boiled eggs to leftover pickling liquid and refrigerate for pretty pink pickled eggs.
Beetroots are most often cooked by steaming, boiling, or roasting, but braising and marinating are great options, too.
Some recipes with beets:
Don’t be alarmed if your urine turns red after eating beets. The pigment in red beets is quite potent, and your body may not be able to metabolize all of it. There’s actually a name for this phenomenon: beeturia.