Beets used to be only found in salad bars in canned form, and on European menus, but with the culinary winds changing, this root is now commonly seen in stateside grocery stores everywhere. This root vegetable like its turnip cousin has two parts — the edible root and the edible green leaves.
There are too many varieties to list here, but with more than one type of beet to choose from, why not try one of each if you get the chance. This versatile vegetable can be eaten raw, baked, steamed, pickled, and served as a condiment or alongside soups and entrees.
Availability, Selection, Storage and Preparation
Beets are available year-round because they thrive in more than 30 states with June through October being their peak season. These roots come in all shapes, sizes, and colors so try a variety to find your favorite.
Young beets, about an inch and a ½-inch diameter are fine textured, tender, and excellent in salads. Medium and large size beets are good for cooking; very large roots are too woody for eating regardless of cooking method. Which ever size of beets you choose, look for smooth, hard, uniformly round beets that are free of cuts and bruises.
It's best to store beets that have their tops chopped off in individual plastic bags in the coolest part of the refrigerator. These should last up to one week. The greens should be eaten as soon as possible.
Wash and scrub the beets before cooking. Beets peel best after cooking, so be sure to wear disposable gloves to minimize red stains on hands.