Beautiful Beets: How to Grow, Prepare and Enjoy

beetsBeets are a super food. They are delicious and packed with nutrition. You can even eat the leafy tops which are rich in antioxidants, vitamin K and iron. Beet roots pack a punch of nutrition, too, with a wide variety of vitamin B, vitamin A, and potassium to name only a few.

When shopping for fresh beets at the local farmer’s market or grocery store look for:

  • Healthy looking leaves that are attached firmly to the roots
  • Firm roots of similar size (smaller roots are more tender)

How to Grow Beets

Beets are easy to grow. They love the coolness of early spring and into fall, if you live in a temperate growing area, you they can be grown all winter. (Make sure you check what growing zone you live in first.) 

Decide where to plant your beet seeds. This is important; too high of heat and your beet roots will be tough and flavorless. There are several heat tolerant varieties available. Watering in the evening with cold water, this will help keep your soil cooled.gardener with beets

Beets like sandy loose soil, dense soil stops the beets from being able to form full sized roots. It is simple to mimic these soil conditions. It is simple to do; I use a section of a raised bed and mix in sand.

Beets need room to spread out as they mature. Thin the beet plants to about 2 – 3 inches apart to give your growing beets the space they need. As an extra bonus is you can eat the green leaves of the pulled plants as you would micro-greens

Cleaning your beets is the starting place in to get them ready to eat – begin by cutting off the tops leaving 2-inches of stems. Scrub the roots well with a brush under cool running water.

How to Prepare Beets

Trim the leaves from the beets; be careful to leave about two inches of the leaf stalk intact. This is important to prevent bleeding while cooking.

Place the beets in a pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil.

Boil the beets until they are fork tender. When the beets are almost ready, fill a large bowl with very cold water, set it into the sink.

Drain the hot water from the beets, then plunge them into the cold water.

When the beets are just cool enough to handle, cup them in your hands and use your thumbs to push the skins from the beets.

Recipes for Beet Leaves

Don’t throw away the leaves – you can use those too! Separate the leaves and wash well to remove any debris or sand. Toss your baby beet greens into a salad and drizzle with a light dressing. Apple Cider Vinaigrette is a perfect match.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (or ½ teaspoon dry mustard)
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Add the apple juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, and pepper to a mason jar.

Attach lid and shake vigorously to combine.

Drizzle the dressing over your salad just before you serve

Sautéed Beet Greens
Cut larger leaves into pieces and sauté with garlic, onion, as you would kale or mustard greens.

Growing beets in your family garden adds a vegetable that provides a super punch of flavor and nutrition.

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Dori Fritzinger has been a freelance writer since the days of typewriters and snail-mail. Her home life centers around a large multi-generational family and a small family farm. In her free time, she loves to read, quilt, and do embroidery. She also enjoys collecting vintage cookbooks and bringing the recipes to life so the cooks of the 21st century can enjoy them.

About Dori Fritzinger

I live and work with my multi-generational family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We have a farm of cows and calves, wool sheep, dairy goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, honey bees, a horse and a donkey. We have a goat's milk soap and bath products line available on our farm web site. I enjoy reading, quilting and doing embroidery.