"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Red Crapaudine Beet

Three of the most important things we look for in a vegetable are, adaptability to our climate, flavor, and how easily it can be stored or processed. It is always a pleasant surprise to find a new variety that meets all of these criterion. And so it is that after over four months in storage I can now say that, what was originally grown as a novelty, the Red Crapaudine beet we seeded in early 2010 does indeed seem to easily attain all of these standards.

This is a particularly old variety of beet, possibly one of the oldest beets in existence today...from what I've read, and has rather an unusual thick bark like skin, almost black, that will reportedly help it to over winter right in the garden, even in cooler climates. The Crapaudine also manages to stay under the soil rather than popping up like so many other cylindrical shaped beets tend to do. It will be interesting to put a few to the test this year and see whether or not they really can handle our winter conditions.

Crapaudine's have green foliage and a bright red interior with an earthy sweet essence that I really enjoy both raw and cooked...a very nice all around vegetable. As far as proportion goes they are similar in stature to a medium carrot and the ones we grew last year did vary quite a bit in size, definitely not the biggest beet in town. Because of their shape they would probably grow best in a loose friable soil or anywhere a carrot or parsnip thrives. We are looking forward to growing these old world beets for many more years to come.


So... Let's Eat Some Beets

39 comments:

LynnS said...

Looks like you have the makings for a wonderful thick stew.....or perhaps the sweet color additions for a big salad! Either would be delicious! That's an interesting beet and pared down, I say "let's eat beets!" too, complete with blood-red teeth and all! :-)

kelli said...

as i type this my fingers are stained red from a juice i made earlier. i love beets, especially the greens!=)

Oxray Farm said...

My first thought was....

"It's a beet with a sweater on!" LOL

Kelle said...

Thanks for the info.. we'll keep a look out for seeds. I planted two rows od beets in the greenhouse, just for the greens*ummmm,ummm*, especially nice sauteed with slivered garlic, slivered almonds and a touch of balsmic vinegar :o)

Silke said...

Mmmmm - I love beets! These have a great form and a wonderful deep color. Do they taste just the same as the "normal" beets? :) Silke

Anonymous said...

Oh how I do love these "local" posts when you do them! Thanks you guys - a million times over - for all of the wonderful info. you share so willingly. Rock stars you are...to me! Anna (P.River)

.09 Acres said...

Those beets look awesome. I love the contrast of color between skin and interior.

johnnydesoto said...

You know old varieties often have shortcomings..but sometimes they don't..and there must be a reason people keep propagating them. I've always thought that the reason some heirlooms perform crappy is because they just aren't in their element.

When you think about it, we were all seed savers until relatively recently (by geologic time...so glad I was alive when Carl Sagan was popular). So by my reckoning a lot of these old varieties were adapted to a specific environment.

Sometimes we happen to stumble on the right combination. Good for you. That beet looks a winner.

Dani said...

Have never seen those beets before. Only know of the round ones that we get here.

Would love to try and grow those - you look like you have a winner there:-)

vrtlarica ana said...

I love the contrast of the skin and inside. I would never thought that a black root can hide something so pretty inside. I think that we are slowly seeing all the advantages of growing old varieties of fruits and vegetables. Maybe they don't provide you with an extra large crop, but the taste and storage qualities are usually better with the old varieties.

Buttons said...

Mr H. I love beets. The outer skin sometimes does not appeal to some I am sure, but when you cut it open it looks delicious. I like the finger ones better then the round ones that pop up. They always get sunburned here. Carrots look great too. B

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Oppss I thought at first it was a black radish or carrot. I have never eaten beet or grown them before. But I feel adventerous enough to try growing them. Usually if I don't know what to cook with an unfamiliar vegatable, I just stir-fry them.

Veggie PAK said...

Very nice appearance!

Mr. H. said...

Lynn - We are actually really enjoying the beets on our salads. Micki just loves them that way and hardly ever wants to eat them cooked. The grandson is definitely in charge of the blood red teeth department. I have a feeling he would not like the crapaudine variety, it's a little too strong flavored for him....but he does like his beets. We grow a special patch of Bull's Blood beets just for him.

Kelli - It really is such a perfect food and so extremely versatile...amazing. Our hands always seem to be stained with reds and purples too.:)

Oxray Farm - Too funny, I like that. Perhaps I will nickname them Sweater Beets.:) I'll hav eto remember to tell that to the grandson.

Kelle - Sauteed woth garlic and almonds does sound pretty darn good. I actually prefer the beet greens themselves over Swiss Chard...but we still grow Swiss Chard because I really like it too.

Silke - I think that this variety has a little bit stronger flavor raw but are very nice and sweet when cooked...we really like them.

Anna - Thanks for your nice words, you are too kind. I'm glad you are enjoying the blog and hope you do indeed find some of the information to be useful. Hope you are not too overwhelmed with snow up there...bet you recieved quite a bit this year.

.09 Acres - They are quite colorful arne't they. The dark black roots with a deep red interior do give them an interesting look.

Johnny - I couldn't agree more with what you just said about older varieties. We always consider our garden as a kind of testing ground because we never know what "new to us" variety will perform well under our specific conditions. We are often quite surprised at what does and doesn't do well for us as it is often not at all as we would have thought. Slowly but surely though we are finding the varieties that grow best for us. By the time I'm 105 I'll have it all figured out...or not.:)

Dani - We are lucky in that our soil is pretty loose and both the elongated and round varieties do fairly well for us. Beets are definitely one of our favorite veggies and for the most part a pretty trouble free crop to grow.

Vrtlarica ana - Yes, the older varieties often seem to have a much better flavor...especially with tomatoes. One of my favorite tomatoes is an heirloom called Black Krim, it does not produce quite as well as others and the fruits always end up splitting as soon as they become ripe...but the wonderful flavor more than makes up for all that.:)

Buttons - The nice thing about beets is that there are so many shapes and sizes to suite different gardening conditions. We are a bit weird and actually eat the skin on all of our beets, even the Crapaudine.:)

Malay - Kadazan girl - You will definitely have to give beets a try. The greens alone make them worth growing. Beets are best grated raw, steamed, or baked and their leaves are wonderful in stir fry dishes.

Veggie PAK - They do look pretty neat don't they.:)

Year Round Vegetable Gardener said...

Wow!! What an amazing beet - thanks for sharing.. I wish I knew about this one before I finished the book manuscript - cold tolerant and stores well! This would have been fun to test.. I'll have to add it to my (growing) list of 'wants' for the garden.. :)

Mr. H. said...

Niki - It will be a fun experiment to see how cold hardy it really is, as a matter of fact it is possible that I left a few of the smaller ones in the garden last fall as I do with other beets that are too small...so we shall find out one way or another.

johnnydesoto said...

BTW...How did Lutz work out for you?

Sense of Home said...

This beet sounds like it could be the one for us. I think the size is a plus since with just the two of us we don't need a lot of beet at a time. Red Crapaudine, I have to write that down. I never seem to do well with starting seeds in the house, I'll have to see what the mature date is to determine if it will work for me. I love the fact that it is an heirloom seed, I looked the seed up to purchase and didn't find a mature date, but they said the variety dates back 1000 years, very cool. A couple people on the store webpage commented that they were small and mushy. I don't mind small, but did you find them to be mushy? Well, this is long and rambling, and I have been searching the web while writing, time to say goodbye. Have a good weekend.

-Brenda

villager said...

I guess that beet proves you can't judge a book (or a beet) by it's cover!

Kevin Kossowan said...

Where did you find your seed?!?! I discovered this variety in a french seed catalog this winter, but have no North American source for seed.

Please do tell!!

Anonymous said...

Na, this hasn't been a bad winter for us really. Nov & Dec are over - we have 12+ inches left...piece'a cake! :) Of course, I don't drive much in winter either - that makes all the difference (I have a wonderful, understanding husband). I do shovel though - and shovel and shovel...Town has much less than we do here in the foothills. Your huge garden reminds me of my Dad's when we lived on various ranches in AZ when I was a kid. Only thing he bought from store was Sevin dust (I know - not cool in today's world). He was a perfect combination of cowboy and farmer. I am learning much about cold country gardening from you. Anna

Mr. H. said...

Johnny - I like every thing about the Lutz except for the fact that so many of this particular variety bolted to seed on us last summer. We didn't have that problem with other beets, so I will plant a small amount again this year and see if it was just a fluky thing.

Brenda - This beet did take a little longer than our other beets to mature so it is definitely not the earliest of beets. One of my favorite all around beets that never seems to get too big, just right, is Detroit Dark red. Very nice flavor and storage qualities too.

Villager - That is so true, I honestly had very few expectations for this variety and only grew it because it looked cool and I love trying different varieties of beets...so I was happily surprised.

Kevin - We bought ours from, and I actually just placed another order for them from Baker Creek seeds.

Anna - Well hopefully winter is on its last legs, in a few months it will be time to hunt down morel mushrooms and then huckleberries...can't wait for that.

Mr. H. said...

Brenda - No, they were not mushy at all.:)

6512 and growing said...

Why are people scared of beets?
I am very fond of roasted beets.
Nice haul.

Mr. H. said...

Beets are scary because they are not white, bright colored food frightens many people...not sure why and it seems that the color purple is the scariest of them all. I'm serious, it's this weird thing that people like you and I do not understand...but hey, there is just more nutritious delicious food for us.:)

Ms. Adventuress said...

Brilliant. As is the Lillie Langtry quote you shared. Love it!

kitsapFG said...

I bet those would do really well in my garden - as I can overwinter even less hardier beets int he ground and these sound like they would be even tougher. Where did you source your seeds for these?

Mr. H. said...

Ms. Adventuress - Brilliant definitely describes the inside of this beet.:)

Laura - I just put in an order for more of these seeds from Baker Creek and hopefully by next year will have been able to save some of my own seeds. It looks like they are also sold at Cherry Gal, I have never ordered from them before though.

elizabeth said...

Just wondering why Chioggia is "not your favorite"? Last year I grew Golden, Ace and Merlin and the green and roots were all great, but I was thinking of also trying Chioggia this year.

The Gingerbread House7 said...

I've never seen beets or carrots those shades before!
I'm always getting encouraged when I visit your blog.I find my self needing a bigger farm than this "Almost and Acre" that I now have ..and room for all my imaginary chickens I will have too:o)

Mr. H. said...

Elizabeth - We have always grown few chioggia beets. They grow really, really well for us and also hold up nicely in storage. The red colored beets seem to be my favorites as far as flavor goes but chioggia is a great all around beet and you should definitely try a few to see what you think of them...many people really seem to like them. Now I just love the golden beets too but can't get them to grow worth a darn, maybe one out of every ten gets big enough to be worth eating...not sure why.

Ginny - Aren't vegetables great. Almost an acre is quite a nice area for growing and I am looking forward to seeing your gardens full of greens again this year. I have already purchased some collard green seed so that I won't forget to plant them...you made them look so good I just have to grow them again.

Year Round Vegetable Gardener said...

Hi Mr. H,

My name is Niki Jabbour and I'm a garden writer from Halifax (also a frequent reader and commenter on your blog).. I've just finished my first book for Storey Publishing (www.storey.com), which will come out in Dec 2011.. It's about growing year round and extending your season. At this point, I'm just putting the finishing touches on the resources section of the book and wanted to include a list of favourite gardening blogs. Would it be ok to include your blog on the list?

Cheers,
Niki

Mr. H. said...

Niki - Yes, it would be an honor to be included.:) - Mike

Elizabeth said...

Interesting name!
Beautiful looking beets once cleaned up and all shiny like.
Peace & Raw Health,
Elizabeth

Mr. H. said...

Elizabeth - They taste really good raw too, once they are all grated up.:)

elizabeth said...

This golden beet worked really well for me last year. "Touchstone Gold" http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7283-touchstone-gold-og.aspx

Mr. H. said...

Elizabeth - Thanks, I will check that variety out.:)

leslie land said...

Happy to find this post - and this blog!

But now feeling very confused, and hopeful there are at least a few other growers of crapaudine beets who can chime in. Confusion is because of the leaf color. I too get seeds from Baker Creek, have been growing the beets for 3 years now, getting ready to write about them for my blog ( we love them!) Experience in my gardens (coastal Maine and NY Hudson Valley) all very similar to yours. BUT mine have red leaves. Could just be variability in the seed; heirlooms are often somewhat inconsistent, or something in the soils... yet that's not true for color or leaf color in any other beets I know of...Any thoughts???

Mr. H. said...

Leslie - According to my book "The Vegetable Garden" by MM. Vilmorin Andrieux, originally written in the 1800's - "The Rough-skinned beet (Betterave Craupaudine, B. Ecorce) has numerous leaves, slightly twisted, spreading rather than erect, almost entirely green, and with red stalks." So I would imagine that is what they should look like. That said, I have noticed that when the weather turns cold some of our beet varieties including Craupaudine have leaves that start to turn red in color...perhaps the same has happened with your beets? They are a wonderful variety aren't they.:)

Related Posts with Thumbnails