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Fall Ingredient Essentials: Beets

Coming in a range of colors and sizes, from classic red beets and golden beets to candy striped chioggia beets and sweet orange baby beets, these gems are nutritionally dense, earthy, and sweet. Beets are rich in Vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. At 50 calories per delicious cup, beets have four grams of fiber and over two grams of protein. With their wealth of antioxidants coupled with anti-inflammatory and cleansing benefits it’s no wonder beets can’t be beat!

How do I pick the best beets?

First take a good look at your beets. Regardless of color, the skin should be free of any cuts, scrapes, or scratches. Tops, if they are still attached, should be crisp, green, and fresh. The actual beets should be richly colored with firm bulbs that are heavy for their size. The smaller the beet the younger it is, which means they are more tender and do not require peeling. Steer clear from bulbs that appear shriveled, have soft spots or wet spots, which indicate the roots are aged or that they may have spoiled.

What can I make with beets?

Beets are most commonly prepared three ways: roasted, steamed, or boiled. Fresh, young beets are best enjoyed slow roasted enhancing their sweet flavor and delicate flesh. Steaming, on the other hand, is the best way to cook beets to preserve their nutritional value and earthy flavor.

Preparation involves a quick rinse and pat dry. Ensure when rinsing to not tear the beets skin, which helps keep all those great nutrients and antioxidants from escaping the bulb. Wear an apron and gloves when preparing beets since beet juice is highly pigmented and can stain your skin and clothing. If you do get pigment on your skin, you can rinse stained hands with lemon juice and baking soda. After prepping, cut, quarter, and shred as needed.

Storage? Remove greens from fresh beets, leaving about two inches of stalk. Unwashed beets stored in a zip lock bag, excess air removed, in the fridge can stay bright and fresh for up to three weeks. The greens, on the other hand, though stored similarly will keep fresh for up to five days. Frozen beets will retain their color, flavor, and texture for up to a year if stored properly. To free beets, remove greens from beets, then wash and pat bulbs dry. Steam bulbs for 15 minutes or until fork tender. Allow to cool completely, then trim off roots, stems, and skin. Slice beets, quarter, or leave whole if they are small, then transfer to zip lock bag. Remove excess air from bag and transfer to freezer. Use frozen beets in soups, stews, or add to hummus and brownies for a nutritional kick and gorgeous color!

Recipes to try include: Balsamic Root Vegetables, Ofrenda’s Beet Cocktail, and Beet Chips with Herb Goat Cheese.

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