Crop of the Week: Beetroot

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Sometimes called table beet, garden beet, red or golden beet, or just beet, beetroot is a taproot part of the beet plant. It is used for nourishment, but it also has use in food coloring and medicine…. Ancient Greeks cultivated beetroot around 300 BC. They didn’t use the roots of the plant and only ate the leaves.

Beetroot is a close relative of spinach and chard and has an earthy flavor and a good nutritional content – it’s also reckoned to be a good detoxifier.   A favorite in 1970’s salads (served cooked and pickled in vinegar), beetroot is a root vegetable with dark, purple skin and pink/purple flesh. It has also enjoyed something of a deserved comeback in recent years, its earthy, rich and sweet flavor and vibrant color lends itself to a variety of both sweet and savory dishes. Beetroot can be eaten raw and shredded into a salad (alone or with other vegetables), boiled, cooked, pickled, or cold as a salad after cooking.

July through to January, tapering off during February and March. You can try growing in your garden or allotment – it’s generally trouble-free.

Choose the best
Raw beetroot should have their stalks (fresh, not wilting) and roots (nice and firm) intact.

Prepare it
To cook whole, wash but don’t peel, then cut the stalks to 2.5cm and leave the root at the bottom; if either are trimmed too much, the beetroot’s color will bleed. Then, bake in a low oven, either wrapped in foil or in a little water in a lidded casserole dish. It should be ready in 2-3 hours. For boiling, prepare it in the same way, then simmer for around an hour.

Store it
Fresh, they’ll keep for several weeks in a cool, dark place.

Cook it
Roast, chop and dress with walnut oil and chives. Bake in olive oil and cumin seeds, then dot with feta and bake again. Boil the beetroots for a few minutes, drain and serve with olive oil or butter. Juice raw beetroot, and mix half and half with carrot juice for a vitamin-rich drink.

Image Courtesy of: Steadfast Farm

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