Beets: picking, selecting, storing
20 Oct 2013 08.19 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
While President Obama has made it clear that he is not a beet fan, this is no reason to stop growing, preparing and cooking popular root vegetable. The beet, also known as beetroot, is the perfect accompaniment to any roast dinner and is rich in Folate, Potassium, Manganese and dietary fibre.
Most beets are ready to be picked between 50 to 70 days after planting, though some times can take up to 90 days. The longer you leave a beet in ground the tougher and woodier it will become, so feel free to pick your beets early according to your taste. Depending on your local cultivar, the ideal beet size could resemble a ping-pong ball or a baseball. Keep an eye out for when the bulb tops begin poking out through the soil – once they become visible, your beets are good to go. To pick a beet, gently grasp and pull the leafy top while levering under the bulb with a trowel or hand fork. Don’t discount the leafy green beet tops – these carry more nutrition than the beets themselves and can be cooked or eaten raw like any green.
While smaller beets are generally more flavoursome, any beet you select should have a rich dark colour, smooth skin and should be firm to the touch. Avoid beets that are soft and wrinkled, this means they are old and past their prime.
Beets are a versatile root and can be refrigerated, frozen, canned or pickled. If you’re planning on leaving your beets out try and use them within a couple of days. To refrigerate, slice off the green top about an inch above the bulb and store in plastic for no longer than a week. Frozen beets will last for up to 12 months and due to their thick, dense flesh won’t suffer too much from cold injuries.
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