Beets : How to Pick and Store Them

January 19, 2012

Beets…I have to admit that they were never on the top of my veggie list before but when you prepare them the right way, Beets can be delicious! AND super good for you!!

One of my good friends, Stephanie, calls me every month telling me to change my veggie/drink/tool of the month on my blog. I have to admit, I am really bad at remembering to update them! So, as lovely as she is, Steph offered to write the “Veggie of the month” article as well as the “Drink of the month” for me!!! Isn’t she the best? She writes the articles and then we get together and try out the drinks she picked!

Anyways!

So here is what Steph found out about Beets!

How to select and store beets

When choosing your beets, you want to opt for the ones that are small (about 1½ to 2 inches in diameter) and firm with deep maroon coloring, unblemished skin, and bright green leaves with no sign of wilting. Smaller beets will be sweeter and tender. Try to also pay attention to see that the taproot is still attached.  Larger beets with a hairy taproot usually indicate toughness and aging of the beet, try to avoid those.

To store beets, trim the leaves 2 inches from the root as soon as you get them home. If you skip that step, most likely you’ll find your beets to dry up faster as the leaves will sap the moisture from the beet root. Do not trim the tail. Store the leaves in a separate plastic bag and use them within two days. The root bulbs should also be bagged and can be stored in the refrigerator crisper drawer 7 to 10 days.

Cooked or canned beets may be refrigerated up to 1 week.

Fresh cooked beets may also be frozen up to 10 months. Be sure to peel your beets before freezing them in airtight containers or bags. They may be frozen whole or in cut pieces.

 

Cooking Tip

Luckily for us there are many ways to prepare beets, they can be eaten raw, but are most often enjoyed cooked. As far as the cooking goes you can choose to boil, bake, steam, fry and even grill beets. Make sure to not waste anything as the leaves are also edible! They can be prepared in the same manner as Swiss chard. To be sure to fully benefit from all the health goods found in beets, make sure you don’t overcook them! It is usually recommended to keep beet steaming time to a maximum of 15 minutes, if you choose to roast them try keeping it under an hour. For best flavor, bake beets instead of boiling or steaming them. Wrap them in foil to avoid staining.

Make sure to be gentle when washing the beet before cooking them, as you want the skin to remain intact for cooking (locks the juices and nutriments in). Once cook, the beets’ skin will easily rub off under cold running water for an easy peel-off!

By adding 1 Tablespoon of vinegar to your cooking water, not only will you reduce the odor of the cooking beets, but you will also help them retain their bright color.

To revive the sweetness and color of older beets, try adding a pinch (each) of sugar and salt to each cup of cooking water. When fresh, the beets are naturally high in sodium so there’s no need to add salt in the cooking water.

I have yet to try this tip but some people recommend leaving 1 inch of the beet top on when you cook them whole to prevent the beet from ‘bleeding’. If you don’t, your beets may turn white during cooking.

Nutriments and fun facts!

Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains (which is also where they get their bright colors from). Betalains have been recognized as a good source of antioxidant, vitamin C, manganese, anti-inflammatory as well as detoxification support. Although you can find betalains pigments in other foods like the stem of a chard or rhubarb, a great concentration of betalains is found in both the peel and the flesh of the beets. Beets have also shown to be great to help with the health of our eye, especially age-related problem that involve the macula and the retina. They also contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers like colon cancer.

Beet consumption may also be a possible health indicator for some people who could have some issues with their iron metabolism.  Beeturia (also known as a reddening of the urine) is more likely to occur if you have an iron excess, deficiency or other iron related problems. You could also be perfectly healthy and experience beeturia, so it is usually recommended that you consult your healthcare professional for more information if it occurs.

Ladies, did you also know that beets originated as one of the firm form of lipstick! Because of their rich red pigmentation, women used to simply brush the vegetable on their lips to acquire a red tint. To this day, beet juice or powder is still used in multiple home lipstick recipes.

Don’t you just want to eat beets everyday now?? They are so good for you!!! Thanks Steph!!!

Steph found her info on the following sites :
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49
http://homecooking.about.com/od/howtocookvegetables/a/beettips.htm
http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodstorage/a/beetstorage.htm
http://www.ehow.com/how_6173205_make-red-lipstick-beet-juice.html