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Beets - Picking Tips, Recipes, Home Canning

Beets Picking TipsBeets

Beets are so easy to grow, and yet fresh beets are absurdly expensive in most stores. And so are pickled beets! Pick your own offers a better price.  This year pick or grow your own and make your own home canned food for the next pandemic winter!  Whether you grow them yourself or pick them at a PYO farm, or buy them at the market, they're available fresh almost everywhere.

Here's what to look for!

When are fresh beets available?

Beets are a warm weather crop, and won't grow much in cold soil, although mature beets are pretty cold hardy. It takes them about 60 to 70 days from seed to harvest.

 In the U.S. beets typically peak in harvesting from June through October in the South, and in July to September in the North. But they can be ready as early as early June in many places, if the weather is good.

  

Before you leave to go to the farm:

  1. Always call before you go to the farm - it's hard to pick in a muddy field!
  2. Most growers furnish picking containers designed for beets, but they may charge you for them; be sure to call before you go to see if you need to bring containers.
  3. Bring something to drink and a few snacks; you'd be surprised how you can work up a thirst and appetite! And don't forget hats and sunscreen for the sun. Bugs usually aren't a problem, but some deet might be good to bring along if it has been rainy.

  

Tips on How to Pick BeetsBeets

Whether you pick beets from your garden or at a Pick-Your-Own farm, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Harvest beets when they are 1-1/4 to 2 inches in diameter. Small beets have a sweeter taste.
  2. The smaller younger leaves (beet tops) can also be eaten as greens. Some folks steam the leaves and putter butter on them.  Others use the smallest leaves in a fresh salad! The leaves should be 1.5 to 6 inches long.
  3. The beets should be firm not soft or mushy
  4. And red (not yellowish - unless you're picking yellow beets!
  5. Try to avoid beets with bug damage to the beet itself, or animal gnaw marks!
  6. Avoid placing the picked beets in the sunlight any longer than necessary. It is better to put them in the shade of a tree or shed than in the car trunk or on the car seat. Cool them as soon as possible after picking. I prefer to bring a cooler with ice in it. Beets may be kept fresh in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days

  

When you get homeCanned beets

  1. Cut the tops off, leaving about 2 inches of stem attached to the beet to keep the beet from "bleeding".
  2. Put them in the vegetable crisper in the fridge, in a loose plastic bag.
  3. They'll be good for about a week like that.

  

Beet recipes and home canning

Now, get ready to can or freeze the extra beets - It is VERY easy! Click on the links for easy instructions.

  1. How to can beets
  2. How to make pickled beets
  3. How to freeze beets 

Beet nutritional facts

  • There are 43 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of beets.
  • Raw beetroots are 88% water, 10% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and less than 1% fat.
  • Beet tops may be cooked and eaten, as they are an excellent source of vitamin A, iron, and betacarotene.
  • Beets are a great source of fiber, folate, and potassium, which makes them especially good for pregnant women..
  • Beets contain antioxidants, called betalains, carotenoids, and flavonoids, which prevent colon cancer and heart disease.

Weird beet facts

  • The scientific name for beets is Beta vulgaris.
  • Beets are naturally very high in sugar
  • Sugar made from beets took a large chunk of the sugar market away from sugar cane, since beets can be grown almost anywhere.
  • Beet seeds are actually dried beet fruits, like a raison and each containing a half dozen or more seeds! When you plant them, spread them out!
  • Ancient text from 800 B.C. mentioned beets growing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the wonders of the ancient world.
  • Beet juice has been used as red dye since the 16th century.
  • Thomas Jefferson planted beets at Monticello.
  • Medieval cooks stuffed beets into pies.
  • In the TV show, The Office character, the character Dwight Schrute, owns a beet farm.
  • Some cultures believe that if a man and woman eat from the same beet, they will fall in love.
  • Beets are a traditional food at Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
  • Beets are commonly red, but there are golden beets which are also are sweet, but  do not stain surfaces like red beets do.
  •  Beets are in the same family as Swiss chard.
  • The Victorians dyed their hair with beet juice in 19th century England.
  • Beet juice stains so well, you can dye your Easter eggs pink using cooked beet juice/water and some vinegar
  • Beets should be trimmed or peeled after cooking because the peel holds in the important nutrients.
  • You don't need to buy an "Superbeet" junk pills sold on TV.  Just eat beets.


Above is the
2020 version of
the Ball Blue Book