I loathed beets as a child.
I thought of them as “farm food” and associated them with visits to my grandmother’s north Texas farm, where jars of dilly beans, pickled beets, and peach jelly–all made by my grandmother or one of my aunts–often graced the table.
My father, an avid home gardener, loved pickled beets, and enjoyed them as a delicacy. I found the pickled taste and dark red color horrifying. I had no idea back then that I would one day seek out farmer’s markets and farm-to-table restaurants.
I grew up, I made my own food choices, and I never gave beets (or beetroots) another thought until we joined a Community Supported Agriculture program in Florida (or, CSA for short). When you join a traditional farm CSA, you receive all kinds of things you might never notice at the grocery store. Thanks to our family farm CSA in northern Florida, I learned about kohlrabi, collards, and beetroot.
The beets astonished me. What were these fresh, golden root vegetables? They could not have been farther from the pickled oxblood red lumps of my childhood.
These were golden beets, and I learned to love them. Roasted at high heat with olive oil and salt, they were delicious, and they did not stain my hands. Even the greens were a gift. Sauteed in a pan with olive oil, they tasted better than fresh spinach.
Golden beets are so easy to grow, so delicious, and take up so little space in our gardens, that I have planted them every year I have gardened here at Maplehurst.
I typically plant the iconic heirloom “Burpee’s Golden Beet,” available from Burpee seeds or many other suppliers.
Beet seeds are large, which makes them easy to direct sow. However, I find germination rates for my golden beet seeds are sometimes low, so I prefer to start mine indoors rather than give outdoor space to beets that might never germinate.
I grow my beets in a small raised bed, but beet seeds can easily be sown in a large pot, or planted out in a bed or border amongst other things. Just remember: if you grow edibles in your flower beds, do have your soil tested. Because I live in an old home, I don’t grow anything edible in the ground near my house. The soil there is likely too contaminated from decades of flaking lead-based paint.
Here is the method I follow for roasting beets. Once roasted, it is easy to wipe off the skin with a paper towel.
A recipe for sauteed beet greens with garlic and olive oil. Though, to be honest, I typically don’t even bother blanching the greens first.