Beetroot – roll out the red carpet
To mark the height of the beetroot season, we’re here to pitch for this red beet’s place on your plate. As well as being a versatile all-rounder, this root vegetable is packed with happy hormones sure to lift your mood.
Still have vivid memories of being served pickled beetroot and wrinkling your nose in disgust? Apparently, beetroot is an acquired taste, and it’s one we’ve embraced as adults. Today we take a closer look at this crimson red vegetable and how it can be used.
Beetroot can be served with all sorts of dishes and tastes great. Add it raw to salads, press it to make a healthy juice, purée it for a soup, or cook it as a side dish. The slightly sweet, earthy flavour is perfect for unusual culinary creations like tartare and Carpaccio.
Beetroot even stars in one of our latest Specials. Our Insalata Ortana combines the deep red beet with sweet potato, baby spinach, fennel and goat’s cheese, all topped with a sea buckthorn dressing. Try it soon!
All you need to know
Ever wondered where beetroot gets its strong red colour from? The answer is betaine, a hormone that increases the production of the happy hormone serotonin. Have a glass of beetroot juice for an instant mood boost!
Its close relatives white and golden beetroot taste slightly sweeter than the classic red variety. Both the root and the leaves, which taste similar to spinach, can be eaten.
1. Ian Neale from Somerset in England holds the world record for growing the largest beetroot with his weighing in at 23.4 kilos. Wow!
2. Did you know? Beetroot is used to colour all kinds of things including gummy bears, raspberry yoghurt and jam.
3. The Romans used beetroot as an aphrodisiac and today we know why. The root contains betaine, a hormone thought to enhance sexual activity.
4. As we already mentioned, beetroot has an intense colour. In the 16th century, Victorian ladies used the juice to dye their hair a fiery red.
5. To celebrate their successful docking in space, the Soviet Soyuz-19 crew served a hearty “Borscht” soup made of beetroot to their US colleagues from Apollo-18.
Buying, prepping & storing beetroot
Beetroot is readily available in supermarkets from September to March. Outside the season, look for pre-cooked, vacuum packaged beetroot. And when it comes to this red root, size really does matter. The smaller the beetroot, the more tender it tastes.
Before you get creative in the kitchen, boil the beetroot in salted water for around 40 minutes. Don’t remove the skin until after cooking or the beetroot will “bleed out”. This sounds dramatic, but simply means the vegetable’s lovely colour will be diluted in the water. Wear rubber gloves to peel if you want to prevent your hands being stained. Any splashes to clothing should be blitzed with lemon juice as soon as possible.
Beetroot is best stored in a dark, dry place. To freeze it, cook the beet first and then cut into cubes or sticks. Frozen beetroot keeps for up to a year and is perfect for adding to smoothies or soups.