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Preview of Beet


July 15 - April 15

Harvest Period

July 15 - October 31

The beet has a long and important history that goes back to ancient Greece. The plant was originally cultivated for its leaves only, but soon people discovered the possibilities of its sweet root. Various cultures across the world have claimed beets could cure ailments from tuberculosis to scurvy to toothaches to indigestion. Women even used the bright red of the beet to add colour to their cheeks. The beet was a valuable winter vegetable as it could be harvested in October and would last all winter long if stored properly in the cellar.


What to Look For


The freshest beets are available between July and October. Look for beets that are dry, hard, and wrinkle-free on the outside and no more than three inches in diameter.


Cleaning and Preparation


Scrub beets under running water, even if they are to be peeled before cooking. If beets are to be boiled, it is best to leave the skins on until after they are cooked as this will help prevent bleeding of the nutritionally valuable pigment.  Roasted beets work best if they are peeled and cubed before tossing in some oil and baked at high temperature.


Nutritional Information


Beets taste sweet because they have a high sugar content—the goods news, though, is that the calorie content is surprisingly low and this root vegetable is highly nutritious. Beets contain a large amount of folate and soluble and insoluble fiber. Betacyanin, the pigment that gives beets their bright pink colour, is a powerful cancer-fighting agent. Beet leaves are rich in carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lutein/zeaxanthin.

½ cup of boiled beets provides 37 calories, 0g fat, 8g carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, and 1g fibre.


1 cup of cooked beet greens provides 39 calories, 0g fat, 8g carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, and 4g protein.




Beets can be stored for two to four weeks in the refrigerator or in a cool dry place like a cellar.


To freeze beets, first remove tops and leave a ½” stem.  Wash and cook until tender (between 25 and 45 minutes, depending on size).  Cool, peel, slice or cube the beets and then pack into freezer bags or containers.


To freeze beet greens, first wash and de-stem tender, young leaves.  Blanch for 2 minutes, plunge into cold water, drain and pack into freezer bags or containers.


How To Use


Beets can be eaten shredded and raw in a salad, boiled in the traditional Eastern European soup borscht, roasted, pickled, or baked into breads and cakes. The pink pigment of the beet is used to colour many foods. It also provides the traditional source for the pink colour of pink lemonade. Don’t toss away the green leaves if they have come attached to the beets – they are an excellent source of nutrition and provide a big punch of colour to any dish. The greens can be prepared like spinach or Swiss chard.


Be careful how you handle this powerful natural dye in your kitchen—beets can stain sinks, dishes, fabrics, and even skin. (But don’t worry—beet-stained hands will come clean with a little lemon juice).




Detroit Rubidus, Red Ace and Ruby Queen are some varieties of beets that are grown for the fresh market in Ontario.  They often come with their green leaves still attached.