Wednesday, December 7, 2016

You Can't Beat a Beautiful Bowl of Boiled Beets

A few flowers found half alive in the fall garden with a beautiful bowl of boiled beets.
Beets can survive the coldest winter weather, which is great except I don't like them.  Bill does like them so years ago I planted some of the Detroit Dark Red beet seeds in the springtime. They were all harvested before fall because at the time I had no idea they would survive the winter. I cooked them for Bill, tasted them myself and they tasted like, well, like beets. Yuck. They are the most popular type you always see in the grocery store, round and red with a smooth skin. They are pretty but who cares how they look - I don't like them.

While reading through seed catalogs I noticed all types of different varieties and colors.  Being a gardener who can't resist buying new seeds, I decided to try different kinds:

Burpee Golden - an orange color - tasted like a beet
Ruby Queen - round, red - tasted like a beet
Red Mangel - grew HUGE - tasted like a beet

I have grown so many other kinds, I can't remember them all.  Two years ago I ordered sugar beet seeds and that has made all the difference in the world. WOW! Sugar beets are used to make sugar which is why they are called "sugar beets".  They don't taste much like BEETS!  You do notice the beet flavor a little bit but it is not overpowering; generally, you just taste sweetness, especially in the cold winter months.

Don't you think they look wonderful? Well, they do look like something nasty from outer space. Now you see why they aren't sold in grocery stores.  Can you imagine giving these to a marketing department and telling them to invent a sales promotion?  They would all quit.

Below is a picture of some of the beets I planted in the spring of 2015. The picture was taken on December 27th of 2015. They had grown well but I chose to harvest only a few of them.  I wanted to see how they would survive the winter months.

During the summer when lettuces bolt from the heat, I harvest the beet tops to use in salads. The leaves are thick and chewy so it is best to chop them small or cook them as greens. The more you pick the larger outer leaves, the more it grows newer tender leaves.

This is the same row now, December 2016.  Many have been harvested but mainly I was waiting to harvest them during this winter.  I was expecting some of them to bolt over the summer and produce seeds but none of them did.

They do grow way up out of the ground making them easy to pull up.  It would seem rabbits would eat them but nothing (yet) has gotten them.

In August of 2016, I began planting more seeds for next year since I planned on harvesting all of the ones I had planted in the Spring of 2015.  It was not to be.  The ground was too hot and there was no rain. So I waited and planted again, once again no rain. Again I planted, this time they began to sprout under the sprinkler then the armadillo appeared and trashed the place.  Below, there are sticks placed where the seeds were planted so you can see where the row was supposed to be. On the left is Swiss chard and on the right is my favorite sugar beets. Now there is nothing.

Well, nothing is an exaggeration.  I was able to count and discovered FOUR, YES, FOUR survived and will be my harvest for next year.  Below is 50% of my crop.

Since the weather has turned cold, I knew the beets would be delicious so I have begun harvesting the ones planted in 2015.  They are not hard to dig since they are already so far up out of the ground.  

To prepare them to cook, first scrub off the dirt, you can't get it all off and it won't really matter.  Put them in a pot of boiling water and that will wash off the rest of the dirt.  As I was advised by an expert country cook, do not cut them into smaller pieces or remove the top part of the root on or they will bleed to death. I asked what that meant and she said no one knew but that was what was said.  So I cooked them all whole in one piece.  I suppose I need to be brave one day and cut one into small chunks to see what happens.  

It took about 2 hours for these to finally get tender enough for a fork to pierce.  Pour the water off (it will probably have dirt in the bottom of the pot) and let them cool.  You can pinch the skins and they will slide off.  Then you rinse them again.

Bill likes them cold on top of a salad and this is the only way we have eaten them.  I haven't tried any new recipes because they disappear so quickly.  

A beautiful bowl of boiled sugar beets.


  1. I believe 'bleeding to death' refers to all the sugar leaking out of them. I just saw a TV special the other day on sugar beets, and they had to be chopped and cooked to get a sugar syrup which was then boiled down to make sugar. So if you like your sugar beets sweet and not beet-y, cooking them whole is likely the way to go!

    1. Now that makes sense! I would not want them with all the sugar leaked out, so I will continue cooking them whole. It looks like I did something right for once in the kitchen!

      I just checked out your blog. Oh my. It is wonderful. I just kept scrolling and scrolling seeing recipes I would like to try. I called the boys down and read one of your recipes where you were substituting left and right. They were laughing and saying she cooks like you!

      It feels good to not be alone.

      I signed up for your ebook: "This for That: Easy Kitchen Swaps & Hacks." I could not resist.