How to Handle Beets and Why It's Worth Putting on Your Plate
If you believe that cooking beets (sometimes called beetroots) at home is a messy and intimidating undertaking, you are not alone. But they are so wonderfully sweet and versatile, and have such a luxurious, silky texture that it’s worth giving them a second look. Plus, they’re actually easy to prepare.
Beets can be cooked in a variety of ways. They can be roasted, boiled or steamed, and even eaten raw — thinly sliced or shredded beets add an interesting crunch to salads. Sometimes beets are peeled before cooking. They may also be scrubbed and cooked until tender with their skins on; the skins slip off fairly easily after cooling. (Some people are happy to leave the skins on; they are fine to eat.) You can also pickle cooked beets.
Look for beets that are firm, and choose a bunch that are close to the same size so they cook in the same amount of time. Beets can come in a variety of colors, including red, yellow and striped — the flavor of each type varies slightly, but for the most part they can be used interchangeably in recipes.
Beets are high in folate and B-complex vitamins and are a good source of minerals and antioxidants. And don’t throw out those beet greens! They can be sauteed, boiled or added to soups and stews, much like chard or collard greens. They’re high in vitamins C and A, and have a good supply of antioxidants; consider beet greens a bonus vegetable!
Are they messy to handle? A bit, but just wash your hands well afterward with hot soapy water (lemon juice can also help), or use gloves, and make sure to use a surface that is stain-resistant or that you can toss (for instance, line a surface with several sheets of parchment paper).
It’s smart to cook an entire bunch at a time, as they keep well in the fridge — you can slice them up and add them to platters and salads for a week. Store uncooked beets for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.
Ready to work with beets? Here are some recipes to try: