Beetroots are a real historical and modern favourite. Though humble in appearance, the beetroot is nevertheless being given star treatment at the moment. Nutritionists are touting it as one of the healthiest foods available both for its fantastic micro-nutrient content and its application to healthcare in supplement form.
But is all this attention well deserved? Let’s have a look and see, with my Beetroot 101.
- What is beetroot?
- Beetroot and world cuisine
- Commonly found types of beet
- How to identify beetroot
- Some quick facts about beets
- Nutritional profile
- The health benefits of beetroot
- How to buy beetroot
- Different ways to buy beetroot:
- How to prepare beetroot
- Beetroot recipes
- Are there any downsides to beetroot?
- Storing beetroot
- Beetroot supplements
- Growing beetroot at home
- Beetroot 101…done!
What is beetroot?
The beetroot, as might be fairly obvious, is the root of the beet plant. It is one of the several cultivated varieties of beta vulgaris grown for their edible roots and leaves. (1)
The wild beet, the ancestor of the humble beet more familiar to us in the modern era, is thought to trace its origins to prehistoric North Africa, then the plant subsequently grew wild along Eurasian seashores. During these earlier periods in the beet’s history, people ate only the greens – the leaves of the beet plant itself – whilst forgoing the root.
Ancient Roman society was one of the first to cultivate beets in order to use their roots culinarily. The tribes which then invaded Rome spread beets and the use of their roots throughout northern Europe. Here, they were first used as animal fodder before later being incorporated into human diets, where their popularity took off in the sixteenth century. (2)
The value of beets skyrocketed during the nineteenth century when they were discovered to be a great form of concentrated sugar. It was in this period the first sugar factory was opened in Poland. (3)
During periods of tension with Napoleonic Europe, the British restricted access to sugar from their trading platforms in the New World. Due to the resulting glut in supply, Napoleon decreed that the beet was to be used as the primary source of sugar, cementing its rise in popularity. (4)
Around this time, beets were first brought to the United States, where they still flourish today.
Beetroot and world cuisine
The young leaves of the beet plant can be added raw to salads, whereas more mature leaves are served most often either steamed or boiled, ridding them of any unwanted rubbery or tough textures. They taste similar to the spinach plant when boiled and can be used as a handy substitute or addition to any dish requiring this popular leafy green.
The deep purple roots of the beetroot are usually either eaten boiled, roasted or raw, sometimes alone or combined with salad vegetables. A large portion of commercial production is processed into the boiled, preserved beets or pickles that are so commonly found in supermarkets today.
Beetroot features heavily in various global cuisines. In India, it is cooked and spiced in small pieces and served as a common side dish. In many Eastern European countries, beet soups like borscht are well-known as regional favourites.
In Poland and Ukraine, beet is often also combined with horseradish to form the popular, spicy ćwikła which is used either as a tasty sandwich spread or as an accompaniment to meat and potato dishes.
In Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine, beetroot is commonly combined with horseradish to produce red chrain, a popular condiment, while in Australia, pickled beetroot is sliced and combined with other ingredients on a patty to make the classic Aussie burger.
Other than their use as food, beets are often key ingredients in various food colourings and traditional medicinal recipes. Most beet products are made from various beta vulgaris varieties, with special note given to the sugar beet.
Commonly found types of beet
Whilst there are many types of beetroot, here is a list of some of the more common varieties in use today:
The Detroit Dark Red
This is a popular variety which grows up to an average of three inches in diameter. It can be grown for both the use of its greens and roots, and grows in a wide range of temperatures and soil conditions. As its name suggests, its skin is deep red in colour.
This is a particularly sweet tasting Italian variety, recognisable by its distinctive red and white striped flesh.
These odd roots grow to a deep carrot colour. They taste just like red beets, though they don’t tend to “bleed”. Their greens are also delicious.
This type grows up to eight inches long and is cylindrical in shape. It tastes sweet and is perfect for those going for more uniform slices.
Lutz Green Leaf
This unusual variety grows large – up to four times the size of regular beets. They taste their sweetest when harvested small, however.
How to identify beetroot
Most often, the beetroot will have a bulbous, red body, and can come prepared in various different ways (more on this later). From the root, you will see long, purplish stalks growing, at the end of which large, green leaves sprout. This is all edible, and all useful.
You may or may not have a pre-existing conception of what a beet tastes like – often, off puttingly, beets are described as tasting like dirt. There is a great deal of truth to this: beets often have a rich and deep, earthy taste… but this flavour is not precisely of dirt.
Beets are rich in geosmin, a compound produced by microbes in the soil as the beet grows. This is why beets might often smell like freshly dug earth, and why you might be able to detect certain subtle notes of earth or soil when you eat it.
As with anything, some people may hate this taste, whilst many others absolutely love it.
Some quick facts about beets
As we’ll discover throughout this article, beetroot is a very healthy and tasty vegetable. Its uses are broad and it can be boiled, pickled, roasted, blended into juice, powdered… I’ll go into this in more detail below. For now, let it suffice that beetroot will always be one of the more versatile ingredients in any kitchen.
But the humble beetroot has more versatility even than this, as you can see in these six quick facts about the humble little bulb:
It’s an aphrodisiac
Let’s start big: beetroot has been widely used as an aphrodisiac throughout history. The Lupanare, the official brothel of Pompeii which largely survived Vesuvius, decorated its walls with pictures of beetroots – a testament to how synonymous the little bulb was with virility.
The science largely backs up this claim. Beetroot contains high amounts of boron, a mineral which is directly related to the production in humans of sex hormones, as well as high levels of nitrate, which aids blood flow to the penis.
It can make you feel… better
This may sound a little nebulous but bear with me. Alongside boron, beetroot contains betaine.
This substance relaxes the mind. It is even used in other forms as a treatment for depression. Alongside this, beetroot also contains tryptophan, a compound found in chocolate that contributes to a general sense of well-being.
So, if you just want to feel a little better, beetroot would be a helpful addition to your diet.
It’s a great hangover cure
Beetroot is an effective cure for those who may have overindulged the night before. The pigment that gives beetroot its distinctive colour, betacyanin, is an antioxidant.
It speeds up the detoxification process in your liver, enabling your body to process last night’s alcohol into a more benign substance which can be excreted much quicker than normal.
So, the next time you’ve overdone it at the office party, look no further than a healthy dose of beetroot.
It’s the sweetest thing
Beetroot’s sugar content is one of the highest of any recorded vegetable. Up to a full ten percent of the beetroot will be made up of sugar. However, it is released quite slowly into the body, rather than giving you the kind of sugar rush you might expect from sweets or juice.
Because of its high sugar content, beetroot can even be made into a rich wine that tastes much like port. So, in a circular twist, you could get yourself merry on beetroot in the evening and use it to cure your hangover the following morning!
How many vegetables can do that for you?
It leaves its mark
Beetroot is a water-soluble dye. It’s best to use lukewarm or cold water when working with it to avoid staining, as hot water will generally fix the stain more fully.
Pink fingers are often an inevitable part of working with beetroots: to clean them afterwards, try rubbing your fingers with lemon juice and salt before washing with warm water and soap.
Beetroot is such a good dye that, since the sixteenth century, it has been a key ingredient in many purpose made natural red dyes. In the Victorian era, it was a common hair dye.
It’s out of this world
During the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975, USSR cosmonauts from the Soyuz 19 greeted the US Apollo 18 astronauts by serving them borscht in zero gravity. Hopefully it didn’t make too much of a mess… it’s unlikely that lemon juice is easy to come by in space!
Beetroots are full to bursting with essential nutrients – they’re a great source of dietary fibre, vitamin C, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, iron and potassium.
They have long been associated with numerous and varied health benefits. I will go into these in more detail below, but as an overview, beetroots can help to improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increase both exercise and, for men, sexual performance.
This is all largely thanks to their high nitrate levels, which promotes vasodilation.
Beetroots are mostly made up of water (87%), carbohydrates (8%) and fibre (3%). Of these carbohydrates, around 70-80% are made up of simple sugars such as fructose and glucose.
One cup of boiled beetroots will provide fewer than sixty calories.
Vitamins and minerals
Beetroots are a very plentiful source of many vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy, active lifestyle. These include:
One of the B-vitamins, important for normal tissue growth and cell function. It is particularly important for pregnant women.
An essential trace element, found in high amounts in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
A diet high in potassium can lead to reduced blood pressure levels and have positive effects on cardiovascular health.
An essential mineral, which has many important functions in the body. It is necessary for the transport of oxygen in red blood cells.
An important antioxidant for immune function and skin health.
The health benefits of beetroot
Russian folklore persists in attributing life preserving properties to the humble beetroot. The claim is that the little vegetable, either eaten pickled or boiled in borscht, lies behind many a centenarian’s long lifespan.
Beetroots contain powerful nutrient compounds which aid in protecting against such ailments as heart disease, certain cancers (especially colon) and, due to their high antioxidant levels, against the aging process itself. The health benefits to be had from including beetroot in your diet are wide-ranging and really quite profound.
Read on for my top beetroot health benefits:
Beets promote optimal health
This is the main one, as it’s the largest umbrella term under which everything else falls.
However, as unspecific as it may sound, it’s true: beetroot does indeed aid in optimising your overall health. The pigments that give beetroots their distinctive, rich colours are called betalains, specifically betacyanin is and betaxanthin.
Betacyanin pigments are coloured red-violet, where betaxanthins are yellowish. Both come from the same original molecule: betalamic acid. These betalains function both as antioxidants and as anti-inflammatory molecules.
These are incredibly important with regards the overall quality of your health, as detailed below:
The antioxidant benefits of beets
Though much is made about how rich beetroots are in antioxidants – which is true – the most striking aspect is the unusual mix of antioxidants in their make-up.
It is common enough to hear about vegetables being abundant in antioxidant carotenoids, with particular attention given to beta-carotene, the most commonly occurring of the bunch.
When it comes to the antioxidant phytonutrients present in most red vegetables, attention generally revolves around anthocyanins.
However, as mentioned above, beetroots show their unique antioxidant make-up in their abundance of betalain antioxidant pigments, rather than primarily drawing on anthocyanins.
They also provide a large amount of the antioxidants manganese and vitamin C.
But what does this all mean?
Well, all drawn together, the unique phytonutrients in beets provide antioxidant support in a much different way to any other antioxidant rich vegetables.
Though research is still in the earlier stages with regards beetroot antioxidants, most experts agree that benefits to such areas as eye health and overall nerve and tissue health are to be proven significant. (5)
Beets are being recognised as a truly outstanding vegetable for their unique antioxidant support.
Anti-inflammatory benefits of beets
Many of the unique phytonutrients combinations apparent in beetroot have been shown to contain anti-inflammatory compounds.
Most strikingly, this anti-inflammatory activity has been demonstrated for vulgaxathin, betanin and isobetanin. They inhibit the activity of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes – enzymes widely utilized by the body’s cells to produce messaging molecules which trigger inflammation. (6)
Of course, under most circumstances, when inflammation is needed, the production of such molecules is to our benefit. However, when chronic, unwanted inflammation is present, production of these molecules can make symptoms much worse.
Several chronic illnesses, such as arthritis in various forms alongside several types of heart disease, can benefit greatly from the anti-inflammatory properties found in beetroots (check out our article on the best vegan glucosamine for more on this condition).
In addition, as a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beetroots may be shown to provide great benefits to the cardiovascular system, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other systems within the body. (7)
Betalains and cancer
Phytonutrients like betalains have been found to be cancer preventative.
Studies conducted on animals (yeah, I know) have shown that beet consumption inhibits the formation of carcinogen and increases the production of the enzymes and immune cells which help to stop the development of cancer.
A 2013 study found that beetroot supplementation reduced the formation of minor organ tumours. (8)
The jury is still out with regards humans, however, as is the case with a lot of animal research. Whilst anecdotal evidence exists attributing human recovery from cancer to beet consumption, researchers are still hesitant to make such bold claims. (9)
As ever, if you or anyone you know suspects they have cancer, it is always advisable to consult a doctor.
Beetroot supports detoxification
When it comes to detoxification, special mention has to be given to the liver.
It’s the organ responsible for filtering and detoxifying the blood as it passes through from the digestive tract and it separates what is beneficial from what is not in your diet. This is obviously an important task, so any foods you can consume which help the liver out in this work will be of great assistance.
This is where beetroots shine, once more bringing their highly antioxidant natures to bear. Their betaine levels, already mentioned, are key here. As well as this, the fibre pectins in beetroots help to clear out toxins removed from the liver so that they don’t enter back into the body.
They boost endurance
Here’s one for the fitness buffs out there. Beetroots can be a great addition to your diet if you’re looking to add a boost to your exercise regime. Research has shown that those who drank beet juice before training were able to last up to sixteen percent longer.
This could be down to beets’ nitrate content. The nitrate turns into nitric oxide, reducing the oxygen cost of lower intensity exercise whilst enhancing stamina in high intensity training.
They aid digestion….
A cup of beetroot contains over three grams of fibre. Fibre bulks out your stools and feeds friendly gut bacteria, both of which aid in digestion.
Beetroots have also been shown to improve digestion by exciting intestinal nerves, thus aiding the body’s digestive capabilities. If you suffer in the gut department, check out our article on the best vegan digestive enzymes for more info.
… and improve circulation and blood pressure
As I mentioned above in my six quick facts about beetroot, beetroot is an aphrodisiac. Labelled ‘nature’s Viagra’ by some, it owes its reputation for enhancing sexual performance to its high nitrate content.
Similar to sildenafil, Viagra’s active ingredient, beet intake leads to an increase in nitric oxide formation. This dilates blood vessels and increases circulation to the penis, leading to better, longer lasting erections during intercourse.
Researchers believe that this nitric content is what makes beetroot so good for lowering blood pressure, especially for men. As the nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, and increases oxygen and blood flow, blood pressure naturally drops. (10)
They are good for your brain
Beetroot may slow the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease due to its ability to aid blood circulation. Beetroot supplementation can increase blood flow to the brain in the elderly, which may help to combat the onset and progression of dementia. (11)
Such a high nitrate intake in the diet leads to an increase in blood flow to the frontal lobes’ white matter. These are the key areas associated with degeneration from such cognitive disorders as dementia.
Beetroot also contains folic acid which can help to protect against Alzheimer’s. It can prevent damage to the hippocampus, the part of the brain dedicated to memory and learning.
How to buy beetroot
Knowing what to look for when buying any type of fresh produce is essential…and beetroot is no different! In this section, we’ll explore what you should take into consideration when visiting your local store or farmers’ market.
Picking the right type
To pick the right beetroot, first you need to pick the right type. For everyday use, try a medium sized one, about the size of a closed fist. This will be the kind you can pick up in most supermarkets. It is cost effective and is good for roasting, juicing, pickling… for anything beetroot related, this is a solid choice.
For salads, however, baby beetroot might be the way to go. They look like little radishes and are delicious eaten raw either in salads or diced up in sandwiches. They quite often come with the greens still attached, which can be included in your dish or removed and saved for later. Most large grocers or specialists will stock them.
An heirloom variety might also be worth considering. There are many types that are good for use in soups and salads, or else for roasting or juicing. They will often be sweeter than your regular beetroot, but will likely be harder to find and more expensive. Try looking into local farmer’s markets during the winter season.
However, if you can’t find anything fancier, the bog-standard will always do for whatever use you need of your beetroot.
What to look for
When buying the whole beet, make sure it has green, lush looking and vibrant leaves. If they show signs of yellowing, rot or even just wilting, pass on by. They should be a bright green colour and firm to touch.
Next, press the beetroot to check for firmness and blemishes.
The beet will always be at its best when it is firm to the touch. Soft spots or bruises will mean that the beetroot is too old to eat and may even be rotten inside. However, don’t go for an overly hard beet: it should be firm, not hard, as a very hard beet will be difficult to cook.
A few blemishes will not mean that the beet is inedible, but too many can introduce bacterial infection and shorten shelf life.
Always try to buy beets that have their roots fully intact. The beetroot will have a long, tapered root at the end: make sure this is not damaged or broken. A broken root can act much like a blemish, allowing the beet to go off more quickly.
Finally, when considering taste and texture for your meals, it will always be better to go for smaller beetroots. They will be sweeter and more tender, where larger ones might be a little woody with too much of an earthy taste.
Both types will serve you well, and both will give you the health benefits offered by all beetroots, but if you have the choice then smaller is better.
What season is beetroot at its best?
Whilst root vegetables are traditionally best in the autumn, many varieties – beets included – also grow well during the spring. Beets are a cool-weather crop and will always grow best when planted in the early spring for harvest in the early summer, or in the last few weeks of summer for the autumn.
For fresh beets, June, September, and October will be your best bet. However, if you’re looking for any form of preserved, pickled beetroot, or beetroot in capsule, juice or powdered form, you’re in luck – they will be available to a high quality all year round.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that plants grown underground are unaffected by the chemicals used on the surface: elements of chemicals will always find their way into the crop.
It will always be better to buy organic where you can, and this is especially the case with beetroots. Eating these little gems in their organic, unmodified state will stop you from being exposed to any nasty chemical by-products.
Different ways to buy beetroot:
Broadly speaking, there are seven or so ways to buy beetroot, each of which will have their strengths and weaknesses:
- In capsules as a supplement
For cooking, raw, cooked or canned beetroot would be your best bet. For convenience’s sake, pre-cooked or canned work well (and you can even can your own if you have a pressure canner), but to get the most flavour and nutrition out of the beetroot, buying raw, freshly picked beets will be the way to go.
For sandwiches, accompaniments, salads, and garnishes, pickled beetroot is an easy winner. Probably the most well-known form of beetroot, buy these little gems cheaply in vacuum packed packages and enjoy as and when you need them.
For a quick dose, either in the morning or pre-workout (see exercise benefits above) juiced beetroot is handy, portable in a bottle, and quick to consume. However, as with any juiced fruit or vegetable, it will give you a more concentrated dose of sugars, minus much of the beetroot’s fibre.
Take it easy with this stuff, and perhaps rely on beetroot as a food more readily than as a drink.
Finally, supplement forms available as powder or capsules are a quick and easy way to get beetroot into your diet. Simply combine the capsules with your other supplements in your usual regime. For powder, consider mixing with a smoothie, or with vegan protein powder in a pre- or post-workout shake.
How to prepare beetroot
Beets are relatively easy to prepare and cook, as the video below shows. Simply follow along, trimming off the ends of the greens, wash them either using your hands or a soft brush, then place them in cold water. Heat the water with the beets in it until it comes to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover and continue simmering for around twenty minutes.
Afterwards, run cold water over the beets as you peel and scrub off the skin and remaining stalks.
Beets can be quite sensitive. Take care not to pierce the beet’s skin before cooking as both the colour and many of the nutrients will be leeched during the boil. Also take care not to overcook your beets, as this will also lead to great loss of nutrition and colour.
Beets can also be roasted, as the video below shows. Remove the greens from the beet, about an inch away from the root.
TIP: Don’t throw the greens away – they are edible and delicious and can be saved for future recipes.
Scrub the beets under cold water but leave the skins on until after cooking. This way, they will preserve a lot more of their flavour and nutritional properties during the roasting process. Wrap your beets in foil, making sure to seal them, and cook at about 400 degrees (or 200 celcius) for between 40-60 minutes, depending on size.
Be careful when cooking with beets, especially red beets. They can and will stain anything they touch. It may be best to wear gloves and an apron, and perhaps avoid wearing anything white!
Beetroot prepared either way can be used diced up in salads, tossed into pasta dishes, used as garnishes or sandwich filler, or simply eaten as they are.
Please keep reading for my top beetroot recipes, guaranteed to make you happy and healthy.
Here’s a selection of some of my favourite vegan beetroot recipes for you to try at home. Don’t forget to drop a comment below if you do!
Vegan roasted beet salad with marinated chickpeas
This delicious beetroot salad, featuring marinated chickpeas and whole roasted vegetables, packs a punch with a host of different, exciting flavours. It’s a proper instance of the everyday salad being elevated to the next level.
As you might imagine, it holds its own with regards nutrition: it’s a good source of vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and magnesium. For those fitness buffs out there, a serving of this will also provide you with a respectable fifteen grams of plant based protein.
Raw beet salad with carrot, quinoa and spinach
There is seemingly no end to the variety to be had from salads when they’re approached the right way. This beet salad recipe is full of the kinds of superfood that hit the ‘on-switch’ for your immune system. So, if you’re in need of a bit of a pep, look no further.
It’s also one of the more beautiful dishes I’ve seen recently, so if you’re looking to impress your friends with a perfect array at an upcoming dinner party, this recipe will certainly do the trick.
Vegan beetroot burgers
Sometimes you just want a burger. This relatively simple recipe shows an array of some of nature’s most intense colours – including, of course, the deep, earthy reds inherent to beetroots. The tastes come through from this as well, with the beetroots’ depths of flavour pulling together all the other ingredients.
Here’s the video Sam put together for this recipe, but don’t forget to head over to her site, It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken for the full rundown…you’ll find plenty of other delights there!
It’s not a complete list of beetroot recipes without borscht. This take on the Eastern European classic skips some of the heavier vegetables, opting instead for a light combination of beetroot and peas and making use of vegetable broth instead of meat broth – a perfect modern version for the modern vegan.
Are there any downsides to beetroot?
As with anything, too much can be a bad thing, of course. Though beetroot boasts an impressive set of nutritional values, it is still beholden to this rule. Whilst it is not likely to happen, there are several health factors which may present a risk when excessive amounts of beetroot are consumed.
Beetroots help to lower blood pressure, as mentioned above, due to their high nitrate content. These nitrates are beneficial in most cases. However, if you suffer from a pre-existing heart condition, caution might be advisable. A sudden drop in blood pressure, of the kind caused by high nitrate intake, can be dangerous in such cases.
If you have a heart condition, it is always advisable to seek medical advice before drastically changing your diet or supplement regime.
There is also evidence that consumption of excessive amounts of beetroot may lead to an increased likelihood of developing problems with the liver and kidneys, and with developing gout.
In the case of your liver and kidneys, this is due to the high concentration of minerals found in beetroot – especially calcium. Whilst this is not a great risk – and levels of beetroot consumption would have to be particularly high for it to happen – there is always a chance that too many minerals can lead to kidney stones or an overload to the liver.
Lastly: sugar. The reason beetroot is so popular in cookery is that it is sweet. It contains a lot of sugar, especially when consumed as juice. If you are trying to keep sugar levels low, either for dietary or medical reasons, beetroot juice should be avoided and solid beetroot eaten in moderation.
Another reason beets are so popular is the fact that they are so easy to store. If you want to store them, simply do the following:
- Trim the greens a couple of inches from the root when you get them home from the market. The leaves might otherwise sap the moisture from the beetroot.
- Do not trim the tail!
- Store the leaves separately: as mentioned, they are tasty and nutritious and should definitely be eaten. Make sure to use them within a couple of days, adding them to a salad or any dish requiring leafy greens.
- The bulb itself should be sealed in a airtight container and refrigerated. They will last between one to two weeks this way. Cooked or tinned beetroot can be refrigerated for up to a week.
- However, freshly cooked beetroot can be frozen for up to ten months, whole or chopped up. Peel before freezing, and make sure the beetroot is sealed in an airtight container or bag.
Whilst it is always better to go fresh, in order to maximise the nutrition and taste you receive from the beetroot, there are an array of vegan supplements available if you need a little help packing them into your diet. Below, I’ve listed the most common types, with a little information about them:
Most common types
There are several benefits to supplementing with beetroot. As mentioned above, beetroot supports healthy blood pressure because of its high nitrate concentration. Beetroot can improve erectile dysfunction and athletic performance because of much the same mechanism, increasing vasodilation and thus the blood supply to the penis and/or muscles.
Aside from vasodilation, beetroot is a great antioxidant which aids in limiting damage from free radicals and contains many minerals vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
It really is beneficial to have a decent amount of beetroot in your diet, and if these requires supplementation, the options listed above are good.
However, as with all supplementation, they are usually to a greater or lesser degree a pale imitation of the real thing. By all means, use beetroot supplements to aid in the above conditions and functions, but remember that nothing quite matches up to eating the whole food.
What to look for in supplements
- 100% organic ingredients
- No GMO’s
- No fillers, sweeteners or additives
- Glass bottle packaging to avoid toxic gas from plastics
- Also, make sure you compare the amount of beetroot powder in a bottle, as amounts vary widely amongst manufacturers.
Growing beetroot at home
Good news! You can grow your own beetroot right at home…and it’s not overly difficult to do. Here are a few pointers to get you started:
Where to grow
Beets prefer to be grown in moist, fertile earth, and will generally thrive best in the sunshine. They will also grow well in pots or raised beds.
For the best results, sow seed directly into the soil around mid-spring to early summer.
How to sow seed
If you can, spread a general granular fertiliser across the site and rake into the soil, about two or three weeks before sowing.
When planting in beds:
Make an inch deep trench in your bed and drop in two seeds every four inches.
Cover the trench with soil, water well and label.
If you want a generous supply of beetroots, you will want to sow seeds every month from spring through to mid-summer, keeping rows about eight inches apart.
When planting in pots:
Pots work best with rounder varieties of beetroot, rather than longer, cylindrical ones. Use containers that are about eight inches in diameter and are at last eight inches deep.
Fill the pot with multi-purpose compost, leaving the compost quite loose and a little shy of the pot’s rim.
Tap the pot gently to settle. Then firm the soil with your fingertips, leaving a gap of an inch and a half between the surface of the compost and the rim of the pot.
Thinly sow seeds across the surface and cover with an inch of compost.
Beetroot will generally be ready for harvest when the roots are between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball, though this will of course depend on the variety you are growing. This should be about three months after sowing.
To harvest, hold the tops gently and pull, whilst levering under the root with a small hand fork. To remove the tops, simply twist them off- this will help to prevent the plants from ‘bleeding’ their juice.
As ever, don’t throw these away- they are nutritious and delicious.
Now, your beetroot is ready to be cooked and eaten. Enjoy.
Well, that’s me finished on beetroots for the time being. We’ve hopefully gone through everything you need to know about this popular little root. Its superfood status, garnered in recent years due to ongoing press attention, certainly seems well earned, whilst the downsides appear pretty insignificant for the most part.
There are some fantastic, traditional ways of eating beetroot, alongside some more modern, inventive creations. However you decide to enjoy beetroot, why don’t you let us know what works best for you?
Don’t forget to share in the comments down below.
About The Author:
James Dixon lives, works, and trains in Glasgow, Scotland.
He is an active freelance health and fitness writer, fully qualified personal trainer and veggie athlete. He holds several black belts and is currently training in both strength/barbell athletics and kickboxing. He has had an interest in animal welfare all his life, having been raised vegetarian, and has trained numerous athletes on plant based diets to great effect in recent years. Writing on vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and training is a passion for him.
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- Queen Mary, University of London | Nitrate in beetroot juice lowers blood pressure, study finds | https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628161123.htm
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