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Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Beets

HYG-5510
Family and Consumer Sciences
Date: 
07/09/2021
Revised 2021: Melinda Hill, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Original reviewer 2009: Lydia Medeiros, PhD, RD, Specialist, Ohio State University Extension
Original author 2009: Barbara A. Brahm, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Beets are available year-round and are grown in most parts of the nation. Red beets are traditionally the most popular, but there are other types such as golden and white. All have about the same flavor and quality. Beet season in Ohio is June to mid-October.
  
For information on beet varieties in Ohio, contact your county educator in agriculture and natural resources at Ohio State University Extension, or contact a master gardener volunteer

Red beets with leafy green stems and roots on wooden tabletop.

Figure 1. Beets are part of a healthy diet. Photo: Gyöngyi Nagy, Pixabay

Selection

  • Select firm, round beets with a slender tap root (the large main root). 
  • Red beets should have a deep red color and be smooth over most of the surface. 
  • Oversized beets may be woody.
  • Size and condition of the leafy stem on top of the beet does not necessarily indicate eating quality.
  • Badly wilted or decayed leafy stems indicates lack of freshness, but the roots may be satisfactory if firm.
  • Avoid elongated beets with round, scaly areas around the top of the beet (these will be tough, fibrous, and strong flavored).
  • Avoid wilted, flabby, rough, or shriveled beets.

Yield

Due to many variables, including moisture content, size and variety, it is difficult to give specific recommendations. The following recommendations are approximations.

  • 1 pound = 3–4 servings 
  • 1 bushel (55 lbs.) = 15–18 quarts or 30–36 pints

Nutrition

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2½ cups of a variety of vegetables each day as part of a healthy diet. Beets support proper nutrition and offer a wide range of other benefits:

  • Beets contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances that may help prevent cancer and fight heart disease.
  • Red beets provide vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, and add fiber to the diet.
  • A one-half cup serving of plain, cooked diced beets has about 40 calories.
  • Red beets add color to meals, making eating more enjoyable.

Storage

  • Trim the leafy stem on top of the beet to one inch to reduce wilting and leave root ends attached. 
    A bunch of whole beets with one sliced in half to display its brilliant red inside

    Figure 2. Red beets add color to any meal. Photo: İbrahim Güvener, Pixabay

  • Beets placed in food-safe containers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  • Beets can be stored two to four months in a cold, humid cellar or pit. The cellar or pit should be 32–40 degrees Fahrenheit and 90–95 percent relative humidity for best results.
  • Do not wash beets before storing.
  • Before preparing, wash beets thoroughly in cold water. Do not use soap, detergent, or bleach because these liquids absorb into the vegetable.

Serving 

  • Select fresh, firm, good quality beets that are young and tender. Heat 6 cups water and add 1 tablespoon vinegar (to preserve color) and 1 teaspoon salt. Add 1½– 2 pounds beets. Cover, heat to boiling, cook 35–45 minutes or until tender. Drain. Run cold water over beets, slip off skins, and remove root ends. Slice, dice, or leave whole, as desired.
  • Serve buttered with salt and pepper. Toss with orange or lemon peel. Pickle or glaze.
  • Season with ½ teaspoon of the following herbs or spices per 4 servings of vegetables: fresh dill, caraway seed, bay leaf, cloves, basil, savory, mint, nutmeg, allspice, dry mustard, paprika, or thyme.

Beet & White Bean Salad

Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Dressing Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients

  • 2 ¾ cups whole beets cut into halves, well drained, or one 16 ounce can
  • 1 can white kidney beans (cannellini, 15 ounce can)
  • ½ cup reduced fat, crumbled blue cheese
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • baby arugula leaves (optional)

Preparation Instructions

  1. Prepare dressing: Combine cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and sugar in a small bowl. Gradually add olive oil until well blended. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Prepare salad: Combine beets and white kidney beans in a large bowl. Toss with dressing.
  3. To serve, place arugula leaves on platter or in serving bowl, and top with beet mixture.
  4. Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and walnuts.

For more information on preserving beans, go to ohioline.osu.edu, or contact your local Ohio State University Extension office for the following fact sheets:

References

FoodData Central. n.d. U.S. Department of Agriculture (website), accessed June 29, 2021. fdc.nal.usda.gov.

National Center for Home Food Preservation. n.d. University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (website). Accessed June 28, 2021. nchfp.uga.edu.

Ohio State University. n.d. Farm to Health Series Maximize Your Nutrients From: Beets. Ohio State University, accessed June 30, 2012.localfoods.osu.edu/sites/localfoods/files/imce/pdf/farmtohealth/Beets.pdf

Olson, Richard, Kellie Cassavale, Colette Rihane, Eve Essery Stoody, Patricia Britten, Jill Reedy, Elizabeth Rahavi, Janet de Jesus, Katrina Piercy, Amber Mosher, Stephenie Fu, Jessica Larson, and Anne Brown Rodgers. 2015–2020. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 Eighth Edition. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. n.d. “My Plate, U.S. Department of Agriculture.” Recipes. Accessed June 28, 2021. myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen/recipes.

Wilenberg, Barbara, and Karla Hughes, “Home Storage of Fruits and Vegetables in Root Cellars,” University of Missouri Extension (website) accessed June 30, 2021, extension2.missouri.edu/mp562.

Originally posted Jul 9, 2021.
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