Earthy and sweet, beets are typically roasted, boiled or steamed, but they can also be thinly sliced or grated and enjoyed raw. Beets can even be used in smoothies and juices. If you’re lucky enough to find beets with their greens attached, steam or saute the leaves for a quick side dish, or use them in pesto. Read on for tips on shopping for, storing and prepping beets.
How to shop for beets
- In addition to deep reddish purple, beets can be golden or striped. Golden beets are milder than red ones, and won’t stain your hands or your food. Red and white striped Chioggia beets are even milder. Their stripes fade when cooked so if you want a big visual impact, serve them raw.
- Seek out beets that are firm with smooth skin and no soft spots, cuts or nicks. If the leaves are still attached, they should be green and look fresh.
- Baby beets are sweeter and more tender than older ones.
How to store beets
- Store beets in a plastic bag and keep them in the coldest part of the refrigerator; they should last 2 to 3 weeks.
- Beet greens suck moisture away, so it’s best to remove them before storing. Place the greens in a plastic bag with a paper towel and use them within a few days as they wilt quickly.
How to prepare beets
- Beets can be peeled with a vegetable peeler. Alternatively, roast them first, then rub the skins off with a paper towel.
- Red beets will stain your hands, your clothes and your cutting board, so work carefully and consider wearing an apron and rubber gloves.
- If your beets aren’t all the same size, halve or quarter larger ones so they’ll cook evenly.
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Lauren Salkeld is a New York-based writer, editor and recipe developer. She's the cookbook columnist for Tasting Table and has written for Food & Wine, Rodale's Organic Life, Epicurious and Gourmet.