Beetroot are sometimes referred to as beets.
Related to the silverbeet and sugarbeet, beetroot is a spherical root crop tuber with red/purple skin often streaked with white.
They have leafy stalks which may be used in the same way as silverbeet (in salads, wilted etc). The dark red/purple flesh is crisp and juicy and the root part of the beet are 6-8cm in diameter.
Choose beetroot with smooth, firm skin and a deep red colour, if choosing the darker varieties. If the leaves are still attached they should be ridged with pink/red veins. A scaly area at the top of the root indicates a tougher beetroot. Smaller beetroot are much more tender.
Wash in cold water leaving root and stem intact and being careful not to break the skin. This prevents bleeding during cooking. Cook the beetroot in boiling water for about 45 minutes or until tender. When cooked remove the skin taking care not to let the juice stain cutting boards, skin or clothing.
Before storing, trim the leaves 2 inches from the root, remove any dirt and do not wash or cut off the tails as the beetroot will bleed. Store beetroot in a dark, cool environment with high humidity. Beetroot can also be stored unwashed in a plastic container in the refrigerator for a week. The leaves can be stored in a separate plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2 days and used instead of other green leafy vegetables.
Beets have such a wide range of health benefits because of their nutritional content, including vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds like carotenoids, lutein/zeaxanthin, glycine, betaine, dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, while also being a source of beneficial flavonoids called anthocyanins. They are very low in calories, with no cholesterol, but they do have the highest sugar content of all vegetables.
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