About Beetroot


Experience of vinegar-sodden beetroot has doubtlessly put many people off beetroot. Those who love it know to buy their beetroot fresh, so that they can cook it themselves. It can be served in a number of different ways: baked and served with soured cream, braised in a creamy sauce, grated in a salad or used for the classic soup borscht.

History : Beetroot is closely related to sugar beet and mangelwurzels. As the demand for sugar increased over the centuries, when sugar could successfully be extracted from beet, sugar production became a big industry in Britain and Europe. Mangelwurzels were eaten in parts of Europe and in England in times of famine, although they were primarily grown as cattle fodder. Beetroot, however, has probably been eaten since Roman times. By the mid-nineteenth century it was clearly a popular vegetable.

Nutrition : Beetroot is an excellent provider of potassium. The leaves, which have the flavor of spinach, are high in vitamin A, iron and calcium.

Buying and Storing : If possible, buy small beetroots which have their whiskers intact and have at least 5cm of stalk at the top; if they are too closely cropped they will bleed during cooking. Beetroots will keep for several weeks if stored in a cool place.

Preparing : To cook beetroot whole, first rinse under cold running water. Cut the stalks to about 2.5cm above the beetroot and don't cut away the root or peel it - or the glorious deep red color will bleed away. When serving cold in salads, or when the recipe calls for chopped or grated beetroot, peel away the skin with a potato peeler or sharp knife.

Cooking : To bake in the oven, place the cleaned beetroot in a dish with a tight-fitting lid, and add 60-75 ml of water. Lay a double layer of foil over the dish before covering with the lid, then bake in a low oven for 2-3 hours or until the beetroot is tender. Check occasionally to ensure the pan doesn't dry out and to see whether the beetroot is cooked. It is ready when the skin begins to wrinkle and can be easily rubbed away with your fingers. Alternatively, simply wrap the beetroot in a double layer of foil and cook as mentioned earlier. To boil beetroot, prepare as above and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.


The tops of several root vegetables are not only edible, but are also extremely nutritious. Beet greens are particularly good, being very high in vitamins A and C, and indeed have more iron and calcium than spinach itself. They are delicious, but not easily available unless you grow your own. If you are lucky enough to get some, boil the greens for a few minutes, then drain well and serve with butter or olive oil.

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