How To Cook Beets {5 Ways + Tips}

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Cooking beets fresh from the garden couldn’t be easier and since they’re packed with vitamins and low in calories, you can feel good about eating them too!

TrimmedHere are directions to make them five different ways: Boiled, Oven Roasted, Baked, Steamed & Microwaved.

  • Note: Cooking times will vary according to their size and how fresh they are, it can take as little as 20 minutes (for smaller, young ones) and up to four hours (for large, older ones from storage).

Prep:

  • Trim back the roots and leaf stalks to about an 1″ 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 (for best results when boiling, the skins need to be on to retain the color and flavor).

Directions:

  • Place them in a large pot then cover with cold water. Add salt and sugar then cover (approximately 1 tsp sugar + 1 tsp salt per 1/2 gallon of water).
  • 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 from storage).
  • 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 and you should be able to rub the skins off easily with a damp towel.
  • Serve them sliced or mashed with a bit of butter, salt and pepper to taste.

How To Oven Roast

Prep:

  • Preheat oven to 400°
  • Wash, peel and quarter them (you can also slice about 1/2″ thick instead of in quarters–cooking time will be a little less)

Directions:

  • Arrange pieces on a baking sheet then drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (or about 1 tablespoon oil per pound). Season generously with salt and pepper then toss them until coated.
  • Cook in oven for about 45 minutes or until they are tender right through, turning them at least once.

Baked

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Prepare as for boiling (washing and leaving 1″ ends on the stalks and roots, also leaving skins on) then wrap in two layers of aluminum foil. Place them on a baking sheet and place in oven.
  • Cook for about an hour until they are tender.
  • When done, remove foil, trim off the stalk and root ends then rub the skins off with a damp towel.

Steamed

Prep:

  • Prepare as if for boiling (washing and trimming stalks and roots to 1″, leaving skins intact) then place in a steamer above boiling water.
  • Bring salted water to a boil in a saucepan or pot, position steamer on top.

Directions:

  • After cleaning, arrange them in the steamer, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes or until tender.
  • Remove from heat, plunge them quickly in cold water then remove skins with a damp cloth.

Microwaved

*Cooking times may vary due to differences in microwaves

  • Wash, peel and cube them (about 1″).
  • Arrange cubes in a glass microwavable dish, add 2 tablespoons of water (per 2 1/2 cups of beets).
  • Cover with a lid then cook on high for approximately 5 minutes, stir, then heat for another 3 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Note: To preserve as much of the vitamins as possible, avoid overcooking them in the microwave and don’t add more water than necessary. If they are nearly done but could use just a bit more cooking, allow to sit covered so they can finish cooking in their steam rather than heating longer in the microwave.

Tips

  • They should be boiled with their skins on so that their flavor, color and juices won’t escape into the water (also called bleeding). Any nic or slice in the skin will release the juice and the result will be loss of flavor and/or color. This is why about an inch of both the stalks and the root ends are left on when boiling.
  • For tough, out of season beets, you can try soaking them overnight in cold water. This will help them cook faster the next day.
  • Adding 1/4 cup of white vinegar per 8 cups of water when boiling will help keep their color bright.
  • How to tell when they’re done: You will be able to pierce them right to the middle with a knife or fork, the flesh will be tender.
  • Try selecting beets that are uniform in size, this will prevent some from cooking faster than the rest of the batch. If you can’t avoid it, remove the smaller ones from the source of heat as they’re done and set aside until the rest are done.
  • Did you know: Raw beets can make a salad extra tasty! Simply wash and peel then grate into salads.
  • Did you know: The common variety is purple or crimson colored, but there are golden and striped varieties available as well.
  • If buying instead of growing them yourself, you can tell how fresh they are by their leafy greens…if they’re still attached and look healthy, they are freshly harvested. If there are no leaves attached, they’re still good but just not garden fresh. Look for firm, hard beets and avoid any with soft spots.
  • When raw, they can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks (cut off the greens when storing, leaving at least an inch of the stalks attached), when cooked they will be ok refrigerated a few days.

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Published: April 15, 2010

What Readers Are Saying:
3 Comments to “How To Cook Beets {5 Ways + Tips}”
  1. cCindy says:

    I cook my beets in slow cooker. It is quick, easy and no mess. Wash, trim ends, add small amount of water to slow cooker 1 cup or less. Turn it on high for 30 mins then turn to low for 2 – 3 hours and done. Can be left longer if you are busy and won’t heat up house on summer day.

  2. Pam says:

    Great idea, Cindy. Thanks!

  3. George says:

    Great site, very organized and informative!


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