Red beets are a root vegetable grown in the North America where it’s mostly used for salads and sometimes even eaten raw and on its own. The most used part of the plant is the taproot but the leaves are also edible.
Beside its culinary uses, it’s also used in medicine and to color the food that takes on its noticeable red color when cooked. Sugar beet is also produced from this plant.
Red Beet Trivia
- It’s a cure for a hangover
- It’s an aphrodisiac
- It gives you a sugar rush
Red Beet Buying Guide
The size of the beets depends on when they are harvested and a lot of the times they are marketed based on their size because it allows to be more versatile with the way these vegetables are used. Instead of looking for the perfect size you should focus on the firmness of the beets and on the quality of their skin.
There should be no blemishes on the skin of the beet and it should feel heavy for its size.
Red Beet Production & Farming in Texas
Beets are mostly grown in the southern parts of the state due to the climate there, which is suitable enough to have even a few winter harvests of the plant. They grow mostly in spring and in the fall since beets are a cool season plant but they can be damaged by frost.
They should be grown in partial shade and they should be planted in deep and well-drained soil. It’s also important to space the plants apart so that the roots don’t compete for the same well of nutrients. The soil should also be free of rocks and any other large obstacles to the plants.
The most common varieties in Texas include: Chioggia, Detroit, Dark Red, Pacemaker, II Red Ace, Ruby Queen. The soil temperature must be at least 40 F for them to grow comfortably. It takes between 7 and 14 days and if the weather is hot you’ll do good to cover the seeds with some mulch.
Beets should be ready to harvest about 7 to 8 weeks after they were planted. Younger and tender crops have a milder quality than the fully matured ones but they can still be used which is something to consider if you’re harvesting before 8 weeks have expired.
Beets have a thick skin and grow underground which means they need less pesticides than other plants but also that they absorb more of them.
It’s believed that red beets originate from Egypt where they were first used in both cuisine and medicine. There is also some proof that the Babylonians used them before that. In ancient Greece only the leafs were consumed and not the root.
The use of root for cooking began much later in the 16th century Europe. Their importance was recognized by most cultures and cuisines due to how vital they are for the production of sugar. They were brought to the US by the first settlers and are used ever since.
Beets have a thick skin that acts as a protective layer and therefore there’s little to worry about in terms of packaging. They can be packed in open cardboard boxes or in sacks depending on how you sell them. Some stores leave the leafs on and others don’t since they are easier to move that way.
There are also stores that sell already processed and cooked beets in vacuumed bags, but that’s not the case with most farmer’s markets and that gives the customer less control over their produce.
Enjoying Red Beets
The first thing to do when eating beets is to remove the thin and protective skin. That’s done with a peeler while it’s still raw. This will probably leave your fingers stained since the color easily stains everything that touches the beets.
Beyond that, there’s a variety of options out there and you could use the beets in a salad, or you can stir fry it and roast it. The vegetable should remain tender and filled with juices during this process and that’s where its main appeal is coming from.
Beets can also be pickled and even uses as a desert since they are filled with sugar and used for its production.
Beets could be stored for a long time. They shouldn’t be peeled before storage and you can remove the leafs and the root bottom of the plant if you want to. The beets should then be placed in a plastic bag and it’s important that there’s no water in it.
When they are treated this way red beets could be stored in a fridge for as much as 3 months.
There are many different methods of cooking beets. They can be boiled if your goal is to make them tender and to easily mash them with a spoon. This is done by submerging the vegetables in hot water in which you can add salt and other spices.
They can also be steamed to achieve the same effect. That way you’ll need more heat, less water and you’ll lose less nutrients in the process.
The beets could also be roasted whole as they are. You should start with coating it with olive oil, salt and pepper and that way the flavor of other ingredients to a dish a mixed with that of the beets.
Beets are also a source of betaine, a type of antioxidant that’s evident in its rich, red-colored roots. The beet root is also a notable source of manganese, folate, and vitamin B2. Beets are also a source of potassium, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines says supports bones and muscles, containing about 259 mg per ½ cup serving, meaning they offer about 5.5 percent of the DV
When Are Red Beets in Season in Texas?
To find out when Red Beets are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.