I always encourage people to eat more colorful foods like vegetables and fruits. The colors make for flavor, texture and lots of nutrients.
The beet is a root vegetable that thrives in cool climates like ours in northern Indiana. Beets are sold fresh from June through October, and fresh beets are best when locally grown. You can also buy them canned and pickled.
If you are buying fresh beets, choose smooth, firm beet roots. Small ones are generally sweeter. If the green tops are still attached, they should look fresh and not wilted.
Beet greens, when young and tender, may be added raw to a salad. Older greens must be cooked and then be eaten cold with lemon and oil, or hot with butter. Besides being delicious, the greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, calcium and iron.
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Cooked, peeled beets are eaten hot or cold, whole or cut in pieces. They are served cold as salad or salad garnish, or hot as a side dish with butter or a sweet-and-sour sauce as Harvard beets — one of my favorite ways to enjoy beets.
Beets may also be pickled or made into relish.
There are many pickled beet recipes, but the following is one I am currently using.
- Purchase two cans of small whole or sliced beets and hard cook a dozen eggs. Peel the eggs and gather a couple of wide mouth jars.
- In a large sauce pan, place 2 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of beet juice and 2 teaspoons of pickling spice. If your beet juice doesn’t quite measure 2 cups, add enough water to equal 2 cups. If you don’t have pickling spice on hand, you can substitute with 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, allspice and cloves.
- Bring all of these ingredients to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Stir the mixture until all the sugar is dissolved, then add the beets and eggs.
- Rinse the jars with hot water. Place a layer of beets in the bottom, then some eggs, and then add some of the pickled red beet brine that you just made. Continue to add the beets and eggs in layers with more of the brine.
You can also make a jar of only beets and a jar of only eggs if you’d like.
A few pickled beets and a pickled egg or two with a piece of whole wheat bread or a tasty nutrient-dense snack make a great lunch.
If you make these now, they will be great for Easter! Remember that it is easy to cut the pickled eggs in tulip shapes using your narrow paring knife.
Pickled eggs are also extra tasty turned into deviled eggs. Sure glad I have some of these already made, as I know what my afternoon snack is! Enjoy!