Easy beets!

Flickr photo of ME HOLDING A FRESHLY PICKED BEET (!!!) from sbma44.

by Emily Thorson

Let me preface this by saying that if you don’t like beets, that’s fine. I get that they’re not for everyone, even though I think they taste like the dark meat off an angel. But hey, I can’t stand green peppers, and everyone assures me that my dislike is ridiculous, so I will  refrain from throwing stones at your sad, lonely, beet-hating glass house.

So. As I was preparing my weekly beets on Sunday night, I suddenly realized that there may be people out there WHO ARE DOING BEETS WRONG. This is  immensely sad. If you find cooking and preparing beets at all difficult or tiresome then you are DOING IT WRONG (through no fault of your own, I am sure) and I am going to tell you how to do it AWESOMELY. Ready?

An oven
A baking pan

1) Buy beets
Try to buy a bunch where they’re about the same size and the beet greens look fresh (we can use the greens for other dishes, more on that later). Don’t worry if the beets are filthy. That’s just how beets roll.

2) Preheat the oven
To 400 degrees!

3) Trim beets
Chop off the stems about a half-inch from where they come off the beet. I like to use kitchen shears, because sometimes a little beet juice gets on them and I look like a crazed scissor-murderer (this is an ongoing benefit of working with beets). Set aside the greens–we’ll discuss them later. If the beet has a long dangly rat-tail you may want to cut that off too, because while edible, it looks a LOT like a rat tail and is super creepy.

4) Wash beets
Don’t worry about getting every little speck out, since you’ll be taking the peel off later anyway. Just give them a quick scrub.

5) Wrap ’em and bake ’em
Wrap each beet nice and tightly in tinfoil. Place them into the pan. I usually use a cheap metal square baking pan. Some beet juice will probably leak onto the pan at some point in the process, so don’t use your grandmother’s antique linen pan or whatever.

6) Put them in the oven
For oh…an hour, hour and a half. After an hour, stick a sharp knife into them (right through the tinfoil!). If it goes in with little resistance, the beet is done. Keep in mind that they may cook at different speeds, especially if they’re different sized. It’s not the end of the world if you overcook a beet, but you don’t want to undercook it.

7) Take them out and put them in the fridge
When the beets are done, cool the pan on the counter for a bit. Then stick the whole pan right into the fridge. Tinfoil and all.

8) Peel and use
When you’re ready to use a beet, take it out of the fridge. You’re going to want to do this over the sink. Unwrap the beet from the tinfoil. Cut off the end with the stem coming out. Now, just slide the peel off the beet. It should come off very, very easily. Beet juice wil be copious. If you live with a roommate or significant other, now might be a good time to loudly scream “MY FINGEEERRRRRR!” and wait for them to come running.

9) Beet it!
Now chop the beet up and put it in your salad, or eat it on its own, or do whatever floats your beet boat. Personally, I put them into a salad with arugula and goat cheese, which is one of the most cliched things you can do with a beet, but also one of the most delicious.


17 responses to “Easy beets!

  1. 10. Remind yourself the next morning, when you wake up, that you had beets. That way you won’t think that you need to go to the emergency room.

  2. Totally with you on the beet love. I’m growing red and gold ones this year.

  3. Since I’ve never eaten a beet before, and thus do not have a beet boat to float, I think that the beets in my life shall remain unmolested.

  4. Sam’s response = spot on. I served beets to my brother in law for the first time and while he loved them (obviously, since beets are awesome) the next day my sister called to regale me with her hilarious “my husband had a terrifying moment last night” stories. Beets… so full of pigment.

  5. Heather, get yourself a beet boat and hitch it to a star! Beets are the best.

  6. This is the best IFA post I’ve seen in months. I’ve hated beets for years though, despite the best efforts of family and friends. I’m not saying I’m going to rush out and buy some, but I’ll try to keep an open mind the next time they cross my plate.

  7. A friend of mine just brought over a salad with beets and goat cheese last night! But I avoided the beets, my ba. Great post though, if I had read it yesterday I definitely would have had at least one bite.

  8. I had a quarter jar of homemade pickled beets for lunch. So. Damn. Good.

  9. I love beets. Done properly, they are so sweet and flavorful!

    I prefer a nice, simple treatment to the beets — scrape the skin off with a paring knife (like you would with carrots), slice and toss with a little olive oil and salt, spread in a single layer on a tin-foil covered baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 1/2 hour or until done. Enjoy!!!!

    The caramelized outsides get nice and crispy while the inside stays sweet and juicy.

  10. Can beets be successfully cooked without tinfoil? If so, how? If not, what are the hazards?

  11. Yes, beets can be cooked without tinfoil — it just makes the cleanup easier and less likely to stain your hands or clothes.

  12. Hello there, Happy Fool’s Day!!!

    As the doctor completed an examination of the patient, he said, “I can’t find a cause for your complaint. Frankly, I think it’s due to drinking.”
    “In that case,” said the patient, “I’ll come back when you’re sober”.

    Happy April Fool’s Day!

  13. Chef's Wife

    Adding a bit of garlic, olive oil, and fresh thyme to those foil packets sends the beets to a new level of deliciousness!

  14. I wash the beets and put them in a pressure cooker for about 15 min. I peel them after they cool off, or if I can’t wait to eat them, I peel them wearing rubber gloves. Then quarter them, place in bowl with vinegar and salt. delicious!

  15. Beets are the spawn of Satan. That’s all I have to say about that.

  16. Pingback: CSA: Week of June 14 « The Internet Food Association

  17. Beets? LOVE ‘EM!!!!!!!!!!! I am growing them for the first time and can’t wait to harvest them. I planted Shiraz Tops, Candy Stripes and Golden. Yum! We eat them at least 3 times a week. I enjoyed your post and your cute photo.

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