Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Let's Eat Some Beets
So you don't like beets? Good news! You're probably in the U.S. majority - just not at our house. We absolutely love beets. We love the beet's fresh greens added to our daily salads or steamed with a dab of butter. We love to force a beet in the middle of winter on a sunny window sill and then cut the tops into a salad finishing it off with the grated root...yes, raw. Those roots are not too bad cooked either.:)
Your average disliked beet contains numerous vitamins (especially the greens), minerals, energy giving carbohydrates, sugar, fiber (most Americans could use a little more fiber), sodium, and fatty and amino acids that will help build the muscles necessary to raise your own beets. All of these compounds make your average homegrown, organically of course, beet a nutritional powerhouse that can single handily help stave off many of today's serious health ailments. How does that saying go "A beet a day keeps the Doctor away."...something like that.
We harvested well over 400 beets the other day and will easily consume them all before June of next year. Our beets are always harvested before carrots, parsnips, and Belgian endive as they tend to stick up out of the ground and too hard a frost could damage them. After cutting the tops off about 1" from the stem the beets are then layered in damp sand in coolers and totes in the root cellar. They will usually keep this way until late May sometimes June. The best of the greens are blanched and frozen and the rest go to the chickens. We grew cylindrical, bulls blood, albino, golden, red and yellow mangles, lutz, chioggia, and early wonder beets. None of our beets grew very big this year but most were of adequate size. Actually, the golden beets were once again pretty wimpy but I like them so much that I will continue to try and grow them in the future.
New to us, these yellow mangles seemed to do really well, although I have not tasted them yet.
Our two faithful standbys, cylindrical and chiogga. Chioggia is not my favorite but always performs well in our garden. I love cooking with the cylindrical beets, so very easy to work with.
One of my all time favorite beets - Bulls Blood. If hilled in these will often survive in the garden until spring, and the greens (reds) can be eaten all winter long. And because of the name our grandson loves to eat them raw and show off his "bloody" teeth.
Did you know that a simple way to make your own sugar is to simply cook your strained beets juices down until they are as thick as honey, cool to crystallize, and voila! Home grown sugar. I'm am going to try it this winter with my white beets.