Most people fall in one of two camps with Beets. Beet lovers or as I think of them Beetniks… sorry couldn’t resist! While the second camp think beets “taste like dirt.” I fall firmly into the first camp. One because roasted, pickled or sautéed, I love the earthy sweetness of beets. Two because they are easy to cook and three because beets greens are also delicious and easy to cook. In other words, one ingredient two means. Which means they make my list of Money Saving Meals.
For the beet haters out there, this next parts for you. My fellow Beetniks you’re up next with some health facts about beets, tips to how long they last, storing them and lastly my favorite beet recipes.
Why Beets Taste Like Dirt to Some
Question for the beet haters out there, do you turn your nose up at mushroom, spinach and lettuce too? If you lump these foods in with beets under the “tastes like dirt” camp, it’s not your fault. Chances are you’re highly sensitive to Geosmin.
Geosmin is the distinct smell that soil gives off when it is disturbed or on which it has just rained. A pleasant smell for most. So pleasant, it is used to confer an earthy scent to perfumes. — Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen for Protein Spotlight
In short, beets are high in Geosmin and have a stronger, more dirty, metallic flavor. Some people, like me for example, think that’s a good thing. I like earthy notes, in my beets, mushrooms and even my wine. Drinking wines from northern Italy or Spain is a treat for me. I can dive my nose deep in the glass, close my eyes and inhale the smell of the sunlight hitting the dry earth.
Not buying it? Imagine a barefoot tour in a vineyard on a warm summer day.
Or walking under clear skies full of puffy white clouds.
Did that help? That’s what Geosmin does for me. It’s subtle and pleasant.
People however have varying levels of sensitivity to Geosmin. So if you’re one of the people who hate beets, it’s not your fault! You likely have a high sensitivity to Geosmin. If you’re still trepidatious about Beets, let your new found knowledge of Geosmin bring you hope. Here’s why!
How to Pick the Right Beets For You
If you’ve tried beets and thought they tasted like dirt, you’re not alone but you’re also not out of luck. Beets with lower Geosmin are sweeter in flavor, which likely appeals to a wider variety of people. Just Beet It has a list of the different types of beets and it turns out a Detriot Dark Red Beet just might be your new beet friend.
For Beetniks like me, try to find Chioggia Barbabietola aka candy-cane stripe beets. For anyone following my blog, you’ll know why I love these the most!
Chioggia Barbabietola beets are an Italian heirloom beet that have alternating rings of red and white throughout their flesh. Their stripes are flat out gorgeous and the red ones… the stripes turn pink when roasted. Pink food! They are also high in geosmin which means Beetniks will dig their earthiness.
I’m a fan of simply roasting Chiogga Barbabietola beets ahead of time and when company arrives, simply slicing and plating them.
Health Benefits of Beets
Outside of their flavor, beet lovers get a boost from their health benefits. Beets are known too lower your blood pressure, boosting your immune system and stamina. Beets are also a rare source of betalains. Betalains are what give beets their red colors and they just so happen to be a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects.
My Favorite Way to Cook Beets
Beets are not at all a precious food to cook with and they require few steps, no babysitting and barely any ingredients.
How Long Will Beets Last
As soon as you get your beets (fingers crossed your Chioggia Barbabietola) home, cut the greens from the beets. A simple quick snip with kitchen shears above the beets but below the leaves will do. A little stem staying attached is no problem so long as cut below any leaves. Without refrigeration beets will last at room temperature for a few days.
To be honest though, if you’re anything like me, you’re planning meals for the week ahead and one of the best perks of beets is that they won’t perish nearly as fast if you store them in the fridge. Why get a few days, when you can get 10!
How to Store Beets & Beet Greens
Once you’ve cut away your beet greens, wipe the beets with a dry cloth, placed in a clean storage bag or container and refrigerate them. They should be good for 10 days but I have gotten up to 14. Just check to see that they are not getting soft.
I recommend taking the extra step to store beets in the fridge because those beet greens won’t last nearly as long. Once you’ve cut them free, you’ll want to cook them the same day or at the very least, the next day. If you can’t cook them the same day, store them in their own bag (not in with your beets) in the fridge.
Make sure you wash both the beets and the green well before you cook them as they can often be pretty dirty! Now on to the fun part, those beet greens since you’ll need to cook them first.
How to Cook Beet Greens
Sautéed Beet Greens
- Greens from 3-4 Beets
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- One Clove of Sliced Garlic
- One Lemon
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
- Clean and dry greens
- Roughly chop greens into bite sized pieces
- Drizzle olive oil into skillet warmed to medium
- Add garlic for a minute before adding greens
- Add greens, salt and pepper to taste and sauté until the greens wilt and the stems are forkable
- Taste greens and add the zest and juice of a fresh lemon to taste. Add red pepper flakes if you like a little kick and plate.
My Favorite Roasted Beet Recipe
- 4 Beets (varying colors and types if possible)
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
- 1 Lemon
- Remove Leafy Green Stems (save for juicing, salads, etc)
- Scrub skins clean
- Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap in aluminum foil
- Roast in the middle of your oven for 45 to 60 minutes at 375°
- Similar to a potato, when your fork comes out easy, they are done
- Let cool for a few minutes and pull off skins
- Slice and plate
- I went for Greek Yogurt spiked with Lemon Juice and a drizzle of olive oil with Parsley for show