Beets are also known as "beetroots" and are called "bettraves" in French. Beets are fall and winter root vegetables originally from the Mediterranean region, although they are available year-round in Canada. The most common beets are deep red in colour. There are also golden yellow beets and candy cane beets with pink and white concentric circles (also called "Chiogga"). Long-rooted varieties also exist.
Beets come to harvest rather quickly at 4 weeks. They cannot be planted in soil that is too cold and after sprouting, they need to be thinned out to allow for some beets to grow larger.
Sugar from Beets
Beets are also cultivated to extract their sugar content; they have a naturally high sugar content. The flesh of sugar beets are off-white in colour. Sugar beets are a good option for vegans since no bone char is used in the refining process, unlike popular white sugar from cane. A German chemist, Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, discovered the sugar in beets in the mid-18th century. Subsequently, beet sugar is the world's second largest source of sugar and can be grown in cooler climates as opposed to cane sugar.
Nothing More Comforting by Dorothy Duncan (pp 147-148)
Ways To Cook
Beets have a distinct earthy flavour but contain a lot of natural sugar so they do well with roasting.
Beet tops, or beet greens are edible and are often added to salads. They have a lovely green leaves with deep red vein patterns on the leaves.
Common cooking methods for beet roots are:
- peeled, blanched and sautéed
- whole roasted in-skin, then peeled, or peeld, diced and roasted
- beet soup (Borscht)
- grated or thinly sliced and eaten raw in salads,
- add splash of white vinegar in blanching water to preserve the colour
- be aware of staining from the natural colour of red beets (can be difficult to remove from clothing, counter tops, cutting boards, skin)
- enhance your beet dishes with a touch of sweetness to bring our the sweet flavour
- use baby greens and beet tops in salads and as garnish but for older, tougher leaves, sauté or braise them
- baby beets (around 1-2" in diameter) have an attractive natural shape so turning them and including them with other baby vegetables as part of a bouquetière can add variety and colour
Some of our favourite videos
Calgary Gardening - Growing Beets in Alberta https://calgarygardening.ca/growing-beets-in-alberta/
Open Alberta - Economic Impact of Sugar Beet Industry https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/1fb55ce9-3d7d-4c5a-9d62-5694474d7c1a/resource/f8f873c1-c41f-4a3d-8042-a4322c09d96c/download/af-economic-impact-of-albertas-sugar-beet-industry-2020-10.pdf
Alberta Sugar Beets http://www.albertasugarbeets.ca/content.php?p=home