Beets

IMG_4022 (Edited)Beets are such an amazing vegetable, one that’s part of our line-up year-round. I used to groan about beets, and then I tried them roasted on salads with goat cheese and Lady of the Lake’s Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (available for purchase at their shop or from our market trailer), and now I look forward to eating beets! The texture when they are roasted is like a ripe pear, and they are also nearly as good just grated raw onto a salad.

If you juice, they are one of the healthiest veggies you can possibly consume. Make smoothies? Try adding cooked or raw beets! I bet you could even cube them and freeze them and use them to replace/supplement any frozen fruit you are adding.

We grow four different types/colors of beets: Red, Gold, White, and Pink.

Gold beets are orange on the outside, bright yellow on the inside. They are nice and sweet with a less earthy flavour and a gorgeous colour. I have used gold beets to dupe numerous people into eating borscht, or “vegetable soup”. In my opinion, people who claim not to like certain vegetables just haven’t found the right recipe, the freshest produce, or the openness of mind required in order to like them! Other than cases of allergy, I don’t accept “I don’t eat ___” as an excuse. Like I said, I was not a beet lover (which in my case doesn’t mean I didn’t eat them, it just means I ate them grudgingly) until I discovered the beet & goat cheese salad recipe. Now I crave them: The power of farm fresh veggies and the right recipe!

beets-chioggiaPink “Chioggia” Beets are the sweetest of all the beets. They are also the most beautiful: when cut open raw, they have candy cane striping inside! When they are cooked, the stripes fade to a pale pink color. They don’t bleed, so your kitchen will stay clean.

Our white beets are also an heirloom variety and nice and sweet. They give the idea of eating beets new meaning because it doesn’t mean you have to get covered in red juice and look like you murdered someone in your kitchen! A customer asked us to grow them a few years back and we’ve been growing them ever since. The white and pink beets oxidize (turn black) quickly after being cut, so if you are not using them right way, store cut colored beets in a dish of water with a little lemon juice.

Season: We have red beets available year-round. In May or early June we start with beet greens, which quickly become baby beets, and then bunches of beets with tops attached. In the main growing season and into the fall we also have colored beets available in bunches and bulk. After frost in the fall and throughout the whole winter, we have beets available without tops.

Storage Tips: Store beet greens and beets with tops in the fridge completely covered in a plastic bag. (We hate plastic too, but it’s an important part of storing your veggies properly. If they’re a little wet that’s okay and will actually help keep the greens hydrated, but if they seem really wet, dry them off a bit first or put a towel in the bag.)

You can remove the beet roots and store them separately in a plastic bag for at least 3 weeks. The greens should be consumed within a week.

Beet roots will keep for a long time in your crisper, they are best stored away from the direct air of the fridge so a plastic bag or container may be necessary. If your beets go rubbery like playdough, soak them in a sink of tepid water for a few hours, and then return to the fridge in a bag to crisp up. Most times you can bring them back from the dead, but eat them soon after reviving them as they will not keep as long.

In late fall or winter we have storage beets available and you can choose to get them unwashed, so they will store for a long time in a cool, dark place with high humidity.

IMG_3912Preparation Tips: Make sure if it’s the right season, you eat the greens too, because they are delicious! If you’re planning to saute the beet greens, wash and separate them into 3 different parts first: roots, stalks, and leaves. Saute the roots until nearly tender, add the stalks for a minute or two, and then the leaves. This ensures that every part is cooked perfectly. It sounds daunting, but it’s really not– and this huge pile of leaves cooks down into a perfectly manageable pile of cooked greens. A 1 lb bunch of beet greens (or medium size bunch) yields about a cereal bowl of cooked greens.

We never boil beets, because it makes a mess! Roasting them brings out their sweetness and keeps your kitchen from looking like someone was murdered in it. The gold beets bleed a lot less than the red ones, but are still most easily managed by sticking them (skins on) into a casserole dish with a lid and about an inch of water for 60 – 90 minutes, until they are cooked through. Once they cool a bit, the skins just slide off, and then you can add them to salads, BBQ them a couple minutes to add a smoky flavour, serve them as a side dish or simply go wherever your creative cooking spirit takes you! A good food prep tip is to roast your beets next time you are using the oven and then store them in the fridge for up to 5 days until you have a use for them. They take a long time to cook, so having them cooked ahead makes for an quick & easy addition to your hectic weekday meals!

Beets and goat cheese are best friends. They are such a great flavour combination!

Here’s Stephanie’s Ukrainian Borscht Recipe for you to try. Mom and I add every veggie we have on hand into our borscht, so feel free to be creative! The flavours change with the seasons, so summer borscht can be very different than winter borscht.

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Harvard Beets are also a great way to enjoy this root vegetable!

In winter, we often just add beets into roasted root vegetables, which consists of all the suitable veggies on hand for roasting (beets, carrots, parsnips, garlic, onions, shallots, potatoes, celeriac, etc) chopped up, tossed in a bit of olive oil and butter and herbs or spices, and roasted until everything is tender (covered if you want it really soft, uncovered if you like some browning).

And, if all else fails, hide your beets in a delicious cake! Here are the recipes for Chocolate Beet Cake and Beet & Carrot Cake, two of our favourites! The chocolate one is so moist, with an earthy flavour that no one will be able to pinpoint. The Beet & Carrot cake looks like it has cherries in it: it’s just beets, but no one will ever know!