I love love love beets. I am so sad I spent the first 27 years of my life never having tasted them. What a waste! I definitely have a lot of beet eating catching up to do. So to get started I thought I needed to learn how to cook them at home. That way I could use them as snacks and in salads more frequently. I did a little research and learned that there are many different ways to prepare beets. You can bake, boil, roast or even steam them. I picked the two methods I thought would possibly suit my cooking style and decided to do some trial runs to see which way I liked them best. I chose to boil one batch and roast the other. Here are the processes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Notes: beets are fairly flexible veggies, if you have something else in the oven at anywhere between 325° and 425°, beets will happily roast up at that temperature alongside what you’re already cooking, it just will take a bit longer at lower temperatures.
Step 1. Start with beets that are firm and feel heavy for their size. If the beets came with their greens still attached, cut off the greens, wash them, and reserve them for another use.
Step 2. Rinse any dirt or debris from the beets. Some beets may have to be scrubbed pretty good. Remember these veggies are roots and the edible part was completely underground before you bought it in your local grocery store, so treat it accordingly.
Step 3. Drizzle the beets with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. (I used a little too much salt during this part. Next time I will not be so heavy-handed.)
Step 4. For an even roasting of the beets, fold the foil over them and crimp the sides closed. This helps keep them moist, it also helps contain the powerfully staining juices they’ll emit while roasting and make clean-up a snap.
Step 5. Place the packet of beets on a cookie sheet and roast on the middle rack until tender. The amount of time this will take can vary greatly depending on the size of the beets, how many there are, if other things are in the oven, and how fresh the beets are (fresher beets cook up faster). For smaller beets, start checking them for tenderness at about 25 minutes. Larger and older beets can take up to an hour. Let them sit until cool enough to handle.
Step 6. After beets have cooled, slip their peels off. You can use a paring knife or your hands work fine too. (I used a knife, because I was trying to avoid staining my hands blood red.)
The boiling process takes much longer than roasting method, however, it is much easier to test the beet doneness and requires less babysitting of the beets. Still, the beets seemed less tender and a tad less flavorful for my taste. I think I am a roaster girl, but for those interested here is the boiling process.
Step 1. Trim back the roots and leaf stalks to about an 1 inch, then wash under cool running water. Be careful to not scrub the skin too hard when washing and do not cut or slice off any part of the vegetable so the skin stays intact in order to protect the color and flavor of the beet.
Step 2. Place them in a large pot then cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and sugar and 2 tablespoons of vinager. Cover with lid.
Step 3. Turn heat on high until water begins to boil then reduce heat to medium to keep water at a simmer. Cook 45 minutes to an hour or until done (for large, fresh ones) or up to four hours (for large, older ones).
Step 4. When they’re done, remove from heat, drain water and then plunge them quickly into cold water. Remove from cold water, cut off root tips & stems. To peel either use a paring knife or rub skins with a damp towel.
Step 5. Cut and serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Possibly 4-5 if you are brave.
Notes: You can also pickle your beets to preserve them longer, but I love the simple earthy taste of a tender freshly roasted (or boiled) beet. Nothing beats a beet.