It’s the time of year when beetroot harvesting is taking place. At CFINE we received an email from a local grower, Ellen, who offered to generously donate some of her personal harvest of beetroots to us. The beetroots will be distributed through our emergency food parcels for those in need.


There are lots of people who have never had them as a hot cooked veg, just had pickled beets, so they might feel cautious. Ellen shared some tips. Have a read on to see what she says…
Beetroot (or beets) makes a great veg when cooked and served either hot or cold. A hot soup is easy and cheap–equal parts onion, beets, and tatties, and a stock cube, all cooked and blended smooth. Very tasty, filling, and very nutritious.
The tops are like spinach when cooked and can also be made into soup or eaten as a hot veg or in a quiche, with a unique red stalk, unlike the green colour of spinach, which adds colour to your meals. If you are enjoying freshly harvested beetroots, from your own garden or from someone else’s harvest, make sure to use the tops as well!

Ellen says:


“To cook I would suggest washing the beets but leaving their tops and tails on, then simmering them for up to an hour, until you can stick a knife or big fork in. As the red ones can be messy and make short-lived stains on things, I take the whole pan to the sink and drain off the water, then remove the tops and tails, and the peel if you prefer—it scrapes off easily. Then lift the beet out of the pan and slice it and serve hot as side veg, just as is. Alternatively, you can chop it up and put it into curries or chilli to add bulk and make the colour go deeper red. If you let it cool, you can have slices with salads or in sandwiches with a bit of cheese.
The golden beets are treated the same way and can be used the same, taste-wise they are milder and have a hint of neep.
Both kinds can be cooked with an equal volume of tatties and of onions till all are soft, blend them together with as much liquid as you like, add a stock cube to make a lovely thick warming soup. You can garnish with a bit of plain yoghurt or cream, or a touch of parsley.”


Harvesting


When harvesting your beetroots, not all need to be pulled at the same time, it could be staggered. This can be helpful for letting the smaller beets have more room to grow to a larger size. Golden beets are a slighter sweeter variety you might come across, which can also be grown locally. Their taste is milder than red beetroots. You’ll do well to harvest your beetroots when they are about the size of a large apple. If your beetroots get too big, they might go a bit course - but that's still fine for soup.


The beet family—what else might you be harvesting locally?

Swiss chard (white stems) and ruby chard (red stems), are not a well know veg but the stems are a great filler for soups, curries, stir-fries, they add bulk but little flavour. The leaves are used like spinach. They are basically beet family plants that don’t form a fat root. The ruby chard won’t survive once the weather gets harsh, but the swiss chard is tougher (slugs permitting!).
Who else is growing beets? Or has a recipe to share? Share your comments and photos below!
Also, fun fact: eating beetroot can make your pee temporarily red! Don’t be alarmed!