Gardens - Fruit & Vegetable Gardening

Sow a rainbow of heirloom beets

You can stick to your standard red, but experiment with these different flavours and colours


heirloom-beets-white.jpgWhite beets
Variety to grow: Table beets, not sugar beets

Like the golden varieties, white beets are milder than their red counterparts. These pale beets contrast nicely on the plate when served beside red or pink beets. Just be sure to cook them separately to maintain their colour.

heirloom-beets-bullsblood.jpgBeet greens
Variety to grow: Bulls Blood

Beets and Swiss chard are botanically the same. One is selected for its roots, the other for its leafy green tops. Bulls Blood provides the best of both. The showy dark burgundy leaves are so dramatic the city of Stratford, Ont. used them in their ornamental planters. While the leaves are lovely to look at, the entire plant makes an excellent salad. Use the tops as the base of a green salad, then sprinkle with thin slices of the small pink- and red-striped roots.

Look Ma, no stains
Don’t want your hands, clothes or countertops looking like you just left a crime scene? Try golden or white beets. Since only the red pigment is water-soluble, these paler varieties won’t have you scrubbing or searching for the bleach. On the other hand, water from red beets is a natural way to colour Easter eggs.

“Beeting” fussy easters
Know someone who doesn’t like beets? Convert them with these beet tricks.

  • Grate them: Skip the cooking. Just peel, grate and toss them raw into a salad. They taste a lot like uncooked carrots.
  • Hide them: Grated raw, golden beets can replace carrots in a carrot cake. You can use red beets, but the colour might give you away. Got cooked beets left over? Moisten a chocolate cake with them. Replace ½ cup of the fat (oil or butter) with 1/4 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup pureed cooked beets.
  • Roast them: “Roasting will make a beet lover out of you,” promises Delaney who has converted more than one beet-hater with her roasted beet salad. Her winning dish is simply diced, roasted beets tossed in an orange-juice based vinaigrette, and topped with fresh chopped mint, and crumbled feta.


White beet image by Charmian Christie; Bulls Blood image by Kim Delaney

Charmian Christie is an avid gardener and home cook. When she's not digging in the dirt, she's charting her culinary adventures on her blog,
Christie's Corner.

 

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