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How To Store Beets: Tips To Storing So They Last

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Beets are dark red root vegetables that grow in cool climates and can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes from soup to salads, stews, and more. Once you know how to store raw beets the best way, you will be able to keep them fresh and tasty for longer.

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There are different ways to prepare these veggies. Steam, bake, or boil them, grill or pickle them, or grate them to enjoy raw on a salad. Every part of the beet plant can be eaten - the leaves and greens as well as the root end. 

Beets, which are known as beetroot in some English-speaking countries, taste sweet and delicious with a little earthiness. I love cooking fresh beets and slicing them thinly as a colorful addition to summer salads. Their natural sweetness pairs beautifully with arugula or another kind of peppery-tasting salad leaf, as well as cheese and nuts.

What are Beets?

Beets (Beta Vulgaris) are root vegetables that have a leafy top coming out of a round bulb. Although the shape isn't much different from radishes and turnips, beets aren't botanically related to them.

Native to Mediterranean countries, beet leaves and roots have been enjoyed for thousands of years, perhaps as far back as 9000 BC. The ancient Romans and Greeks ate it, and it was also known to Arab and Armenian cultures, before spreading across Eastern Europe from the 1700s onwards.

Beet roots and leaves need to be washed before use, like any other root crops, since they grow underground and have dirt on them. The root can be juiced or cooked and added to salads, soups, and other dishes.

Beets are rich in folate and also give you potassium, copper, manganese, iron, magnesium, and Vitamins B6 and C. Different types of beets include baby beets which are sweet and tender, Boldor beets which are very tasty, Red Ace or common garden beets, golden beets which are yellow, striped beets, and more.

Tips for Buying Beets

Beets are at their best and sweetest during their natural growing season in late fall and winter, although you can find them in just about any grocery store or farmers market throughout the year.

Firm, small beets with deep purple coloring and vibrant color are what you should be looking for when purchasing. Larger beets that are more than a couple of inches across often have a woody middle because they're older when picked, so don't choose those.

Make sure the leaves (if on) are bright green and the taproot is attached at the bottom. Also, bear in mind that because beets don't stay fresh for long, you shouldn't buy more than what you're planning to use within the next few days.

If you have the choice, buy a bunch of beets with the greens attached than a bag of beets with the greens removed. That way you can be sure you're getting fresher beets. Also, you can cook and eat the beet greens.

Leaves being trimmed off beets.

How to Store Beets

These herbaceous root vegetables aren't going to have a long shelf life or stay firm for a long time, but if you know how to store beets you will be able to keep them fresh for several days. The following tips should be helpful.

  1. First of all, trim off any greens a couple of inches above the top of the beet, because if you leave them on they draw moisture from the beet and will spoil faster.
  2. Don't wash your raw beets before storing them because the dampness (even after wiping them dry) accelerates the rotting process.
  3. Next, remove the beets from the plastic bag they came in, or else moisture will condense on the beets and make them rot a lot quicker.
  4. Put them in a cool, dry place, ideally the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Keep them loose or wrapped in paper towels and sitting in a plastic container, and they should be fine for a couple of weeks.
  5. At room temperature, they'll only keep for a couple of days.
  6. As for cooked beets, keep them in a cool place, ideally in the refrigerator, in a sealed container, and use them within 3 days max.
  7. Raw beet greens will keep for 1 or 2 days, but it's best to cook them immediately.

Raw beets don't freeze well because they are mushy when they thaw. Cooked beets do freeze well though and should be good for long-term storage - up to 10 months in fact, when kept in freezer bags or an airtight container. 

Blanch them for a couple of minutes and then plunge them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process, then drain well. If you prefer, you can also fully cook them, as long as you remove any excess moisture before freezing them. Freeze the beets in a single layer then transfer the beets into a freezer bag or similar. Vacuum-packed beets keep especially well.

How to Tell if Beets are Spoiled

Not sure if the red beets in your refrigerator or root cellar are still good? First, do the "sniff test." Fresh beets smell lightly earthy while rotten ones are going to smell unpleasant.

If you see mold, throw the beets away. Although some people trim off the mold and consume the remainder, mold spores can spread toxicity throughout the whole beet, so it isn't worth the risk. Eating spoiled beets can give you severe gastrointestinal issues.

If the beets are bruised or wrinkled, this is another indicator of spoilage. Fresh beets have the texture of a tennis ball while spoiled ones will be squishy like a tomato.

Common Questions

Can you eat beets raw?

Although many people haven't tried raw beets, they can actually be very tasty grated into a beet salad or pureed and added to homemade hummus and the good news is they're very good for you. Cooking destroys some of the nutrients in beets, so you might like to try some raw beet dishes, both for the flavor and for the health benefits. Shredded beets add a nice crunch to salads, so if you usually rely on cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or nuts and seeds for crunch, try shredded beets next time.

How do you cook beet greens?

Don't throw out the beet greens. Not only are they edible but they're tasty too! I like to give them a good rinse in cold water and discard the thicker, woodier part of the stems. Sauté them in olive oil with garlic, bacon, onion, and whatever seasonings you like. They will be tender in about 10 or 15 minutes and make an interesting change from spinach, kale, or whatever greens you typically serve as a side dish.

Are beets easy to grow?

Beets are really simple to grow from seed in containers or in your own garden. They are a great spring or fall crop since they don't like extreme heat and can survive a light frost (not a hard freeze) so if you live somewhere cooler and you have the space, you can definitely give growing beets a try. They will be ready to pick in about 8 weeks when 3 or 4 inches of the stem are visible.

Roasted beets in foil.

Fun Facts

  • Early settlers in the United States used beet juice to give cake frosting a pink color.
  • The most common variety of beets found in grocery stores is the Red Ace.
  • More than half of the world's sugar comes from sugar beets.

Once you have a good idea about how to store beets, you might want to buy yourself a bunch of them and create some delicious dishes. Just bear in mind the juice can stain, so wear an apron while preparing it because beet juice is hard to get out if you splash some on yourself.

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