I’m just joking and being punny. Beets are a nutritious root vegetable that is entirely edible (greens and roots), like carrots, and are used in many different cuisines. You can eat them raw in salads or juiced, roasted, steamed, as chips (dehydrated or baked), pickled or canned, in soups, and more. You can always try an Eastern European dish of brightly hued hot or chilled borscht, which can also include sour cream, onions, potatoes, cabbage, sorrel, tomatoes, or carrots, depending on where the recipe is from. There are also many varieties of beets that best prepared in various ways. Some have tough or tender greens, while others have have rather sweet or bitter roots. Tender greens and sweet beetroots can be eaten raw, but tough greens and bitter roots are best cooked so to ease digestion and improve flavor. Which ever beet variety you choose, make sure to rinse and scrub them all over with a vegetable brush to get rid of dirt hidden in crevices and bring out the natural color. Here’s a helpful website that has more ideas and factoids mostly regarding red beets.

Beets have practical uses, too. You may have noticed their deep or bright colors caused buy flavinoids (anti-oxidants), especially while cutting them up. Watch out! The darker cultivars will stain anything and everything. Many people choose to wear gloves when working with them. Whether you do or do not enjoy eating beetroots or their greens, you can use them to dye paper, yarn and fabric. Just make sure to perform a sample test run, since the colors may not turn out as you expect.

Red beets range in size and color, from pink to dark, dark red and are of your most commonly found varieties in grocery stores. They are generally juicy, tender, sweet and vividly colored. There are lots of heirloom and hybrid cultivars to choose from that are a bit different, some of which have tasty greens. For the kind that are best cooked, here are some methods to prepare them. Red beets are high in nutrients and are very good for you.

Chioggia beets are a nice visual treat of a beet that come in red, purple or pink with white rings in a series of circles that form a bulls eye target when they are sliced horizontally; it you cut them vertically in half, the flesh appears striped with alternating striations. These beetroots have a sweet overall flavor but very sharp bitter aftertaste when eaten raw; their alkalinity made my throat kind of itchy and irritated. I drank lots of water and had to consume something slightly acidic to get rid of the sensation and taste. The other option is to thinly slice the beets and marinate them in either vinegar or citrus juice, like in this recipe. Needless to say, these beetroots are best eaten cooked or marinated. Baby candy cane beets are similar in pattern with bright red and white radiating circles but are smaller, can be eaten raw and are the sweetest type of beet.

Golden beets have a mild and sweet flavor with another full collection of nutrients. They also have a bulls eye pattern but in orange and yellow when sliced horizontally. Since golden beets are a bit rough skinned, it’s best to peel them first. One of the great things about golden beets is that when you peel them, you don’t have to wear gloves or worry about your hands staining. I have yet to try them, but I hear they taste fantastic oven-roasted, especially whole. There are several cultivars to choose from, such as Burpee goldens, yellow Detroits and yellow Mangels.

The Dutch blankoma or albino beets, are also a bit different. These beets are also non-staining, so no gloves are necessary. Blankoma beets have a mild flavor and a potato-like texture. Lightly steam them to bring out their delicate sweetness that is easy to mask if you aren’t careful in adding the right amount of seasoning. Just add a little extra flavor from spices and herbs at a time; it’s also best to start simple, maybe with some salt and pepper. Keep a close watch over them as they cook to prevent them from overcooking and turning gray, which can also diminish the natural flavor. Here’s some more information about them, including how to prepare them.

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