Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chioggia Heirlooms

Please don't write me off as a raving lunatic. Not just yet, anyway.

I know... I know... the only time you've ever eaten beets was when Granny forced them down you. And, the only good thing to come of that experience was how they turned your taters pink.

4 fantastic facts about the lowly beet:
1) Fresh, whole, heirloom beets ~ lovingly roasted in the oven ~ are surprisingly tasty.
2) They're a snap to grow in a mountain garden, provided you amend that challenging clay soil. Ready for harvest in about 60-70 days.
3) Who cares about those dull details??
Beets come in designer colors! 
That's gonna make you look like a rock star at the next Master Gardener's picnic!

Heirloom Chioggia Beets: If you boil 'em, they'll lose their pretty stripes.

Who knew?
Beets are simply suffering from a bad rap because salad bars display their canned counterparts just to make us queasy. 

4) Fresh beets are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a gazillion other things that improve our health, though we're not sure why. Fresh beets are so healthy they even slow cancerous tumors. But, why wait until you have one foot in the grave to give them a try? Roasted beets are dee-lish.

Roasted Beets
Prep time: 1 fun minute!
  • Snip tops and tails
  • Rub, tub and scrub
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with Kosher salt
  • Roast whole beets @ 375 (F) until slightly tender. (About 45 minutes. Treat them as you would potatoes; stick a fork in 'em to determine if they're done.)
And, now for the fine print... This little beauty keeps her pretty stripes when roasting, but she loses those stripes when boiled. Yet another reason to refrain from canning beets!

How To:
Give them plenty of wiggle room: Loose soil/No weeds/Full sun/Consistent moisture. Cool temps produce the best flavor. Like most veggies, they're only fabulous when they're fresh.

43 comments:

Old Bookworm said...

Beets look good, but I just don't like them! Amending mountain soil? We don't have soil, or clay!...we have decomposing granite. Any gardening we do is, literally, from scratch! LOL

You always have the nicest pictures. How do you do that? :)

OmegaMom said...

Alas, though the Chioggias are really, really pretty, I don't think they taste as good as the ruby-red variety we also plant. So this year, the Chioggias are out of the garden.

We like our beets just boiled with beet greens, served with lots of butter. Yum!

Kate said...

Thx, Bookworm!
I'm not a very good photographer but Photoshop generally saves the day.

PS: Beets grow well in deep containers. Who knows? You could learn to love 'em :))

Kate said...

True, true, Omega. The Detroit Dark Red has better flavor. But, I'm a shallow gardener and I like the stripes! :D

Titanium said...

You've made me take another look at beets on several counts. These are fascinating in their stripes and in the wealth of information you shared.

I feel suddenly small-minded for disliking beets for all those reasons you nailed on the head. Will procure me some from the farmer's market and give 'em a fair shake (uh, roast) this summer.

Kate said...

Hi, T;
I'm a recent convert. And you know how evangelisty those people can be...

Last year I resolved to try some different stuff. Beets were surprisingly good. Eggplant? blech...

Risa Edelstein said...

I must admit that it has only been recently that I have come to LOVE beets...especially roasted ones. My favorite way to eat them is on top of a baby spinach salad with goat cheese! Sadly, I've had little luck growing them in my garden - not enough sun and not thinned enough but I am going to try again this year!

Kate said...

Hi, Risa;
Yes, thinning is essential. Plus, they really need loose soil to grow up plump and happy. I'm glad you're gonna give 'em another try. Like you, I am AMAZED at how yummy they are when roasted!

Carol said...

Hi Kate, I am so sorry that you have the same horrid little bug I have. I love the photos of your beets. I love roasted veggies of all kinds and beets are right up there. Terrific post! Hope you are feeling better soon!!! ;>) Carol

Melospiza said...

I LOVE beets...that's my household's special Valentine's Day food (along with spaghetti and meatballs, red wine, and chocolate).

Now, planting them? I should. Oh, I should. I always grunt in irritation when I buy some at the store ("3.95? for three paltry beets? As if!") But beets (and potatoes and onions) are one of those crops I've always told myself our garden is too small for. Hmm. Perhaps I will try to prove myself wrong this summer...

Kate said...

Thx, Carol;
It's an awful bug - I can attest to that...

Hi, Melospiza!
I'd be content with the wine and chocolates :)

Amy Farrier said...

Yep, I discovered how delicious beets could be as an adult, but it really is hard to convince other people to try them! I sometimes sneak some roasted beet into rustic vegetable soup for a great flavor booster. The Chioggas are so pretty; I'll have to try them sometime.

Snowcatcher said...

My husband LOVES beets. They also are good as a sugar substitute for those of us who are diabetic. (Yeah, it sounds yucky, but it works in some recipes!)

Kate said...

Hi, Amy;
Yep -- very hard to talk folks into giving beets another try. That's why I like these candy striped beauties. Inspires people to let their guard down. :)

Hi, Snowcatcher!
Loved your photos, today! Your hubs might love white beets. Albina Vereduna is a goodie...

Andrea said...

Hi i am new here, just followed your comments at Greenbow. I am excited to see the plants and landscape at high altitude, and you have great photos. Though i am not familiar with the real flowers you are talking about i am immensely enjoying them. As long as there are snowdrops,if i am from your climate i will always be happy to wait for spring! While you are still in that hibernation atmosphere, please visit my everlasting blooms, as in whole year-round blooms because i am from the tropics. Snow is alien to us. thank you.

joey said...

I hear you BIG TIME, Kate! Not only do I love roasted beets but sauteed beet greens. When in season, we sometimes simply 'gorge' on a ... beet supper :)

Kate said...

Hi, Andrea!
Thanks for stopping by. I paid you a visit and fell in love with your flowers. You live in a beautiful place.

Hey, Joey;
Excited to try your latest and greatest recipe concoction. I imagine it's okay to 'gorge' on something as yummy as beets. :)

noel said...

i love beets and these designer chioggas are wow, drop dead gorgeous, i'd eat them everyday...wish they could grow in my area though :( we only get beets from some of the colder areas in hawaii and usually in smaller quantities and variety.

Kate said...

Hi, Noelle;
I suppose it's too hot where you live. If I get a good harvest, I'll send some stripeys your way. :)

Jean said...

I absolutely LOVE beets; you can fix them any which way and I'd love them. Never tried growing them though. If I can ever get to spring I'm going to be adding more veggies. I haven't made a final decision on which ones yet though.

Kate said...

Hi, Jean;
I think it might surprise people to discover how many varieties there are to choose from.

Esther Montgomery said...

We like beetroot korma. You won't find the recipe anywhere because we made it up (we don't have a recipe but devise it anew each time - which means some days it's better than others!) but it is certainly to be recommended - and turns the rice pink round the edges too, which is fun.

I've never thought of buying beetroot in tins but we have a family divide in that I like it pickled in vinegar and my husband doesn't.

Esther

GardenJoy4Me said...

Kate girl .. I have to tell the truth (no matter how shocking it is ?!) I love beets .. pickled beets but hey .. I want to try the roasted thing .. but.. what about a time frame girl .. when does "until tender happen "?? I'm a bit of a non-cooking kinda gal .. cooking impaired ? cooking disabled ? I'm not a great cook " LOL .. so how about a time frame ?? ;-)

Gail said...

They are beautiful and occasionally roasted beets are served at our table!
I prefer the taste of the golden beets. Your photos are stellar! gail

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Are you kidding me? I love (LOVE) beets and have been growing them in containers for a few years. The one you show is so gloriously pink... I normally grow Detroit Red.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Oh, Kate! I LOVE beets! My husband rolls his eyes when he sees them on the table. I put them into the oven, bake til they get soft, and just slice them. Yum! They are good for our health. Thanks for posting about them!

Shelle said...

i do like beets, especially with my carrots juice (i think i just like the colour)...but i have to have sliced pickled beets on a hamburger...even if it means taking my own jar!

Rose said...

I'm a beet lover, Kate! I've seen these pretty striped varieties and thought about planting some this year, but I think I ordered my old standby red ones. Last year was my first try at planting them and they did so well, they're going to be a staple in my garden. Thanks for the tips on roasting them--I always boil them, but this sounds so much tastier.

Kate said...

What a happy sight, this morning, waking up to comments from so many beet lovers! Who knew that lowly veg could be such a fine conversation starter? :D

Esther - we need that recipe! Please share on your blog. :)

Joy - You poor thing, cooking disabled... You're in good company. Me, too! Treat beets as you would small baked potatoes. Poke 'em to see if they're soft.

Thx, Gail - I've never tried a golden beet but now I'm curious. I shall check to see if Wild Oats sells them.

Hi, Monica - I think the Detroit Beet has a richer flavor but I'm a sucker for Chioggia's pretty pink stripes. :)

Hey, Tatyana - Not surprised to hear you're a beet lover! Seems everyone I meet, who grew up elsewhere, has a much broader range of yummy veggies. Do you suppose it's our massive supermarkets that prevent us from trying new veggies? I'm always amazed at the size of our stores yet the distinct lack of variety...

Shelle - Beets and burgers! What a fab idea! Sounds quite yummy. I must give this a try. :)

Thanks, again, for all the sweet beet comments. ~ kate

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Now I like cooked beets believe it or not. I remember grandma canning them and everything was red.She used old rags that day for clean ups. LOL! I did not now they could be sexy too. LOL! Liked your last picture.
Lona

Melanie said...

I love beets, especially when they are roasted. Those Chioggias are real pretty but after reading your comments, maybe I will stick with my hardy red variety because when it comes to food I only care about taste, lol!

Rosie said...

Hi Kate

I found you through Melanie's blog - I've never heard of Chioggias before - and the up close photo is great. I do like beetroot but I've never grown them before I presume your chioggias taste quite similar?

Di said...

Hi Kate, we love beets fresh from the garden and I did look at these but opted not to get them.... only because I already went overboard on so many other heirloom seeds for the vegetable garden... Thanks for reminding me to roast instead of always boiling. ;)

Noelle said...

They look very cool, but I have to get over my dislike of beets. You know, I don't think I have even tried them before. I think I must....

Kate said...

Hi, Rosie;
Nice to meet you. Thanks for visiting! I like the chioggias, nice flavor, lots less mess. They don't turn everything red the way some beets do.

Hi, Di;
I'm looking forward to seeing all the goodies you plan to grow!

Hi, Noelle;
I avoided beets most of my life. And, I doubt you could convince me to ever eat a canned beet again. But, these are sweet and tasty. :))

gloria said...

I love roasted and steamed beets. I look forward to pulling them out of the garden! Gloria

Kate said...

Hi, Gloria!
We should all share the types we're growing. I am now very curious about the golden beets. Can you grow yours in the soil? I usually grow mine in a bucket on the deck. My soil is too heavy for good results...

Kelly@LifeOutOfDoors said...

I love beets! I never tasted one till I was 30 and I choked one down at my mother-in-law's table, and thought - yum! The only thing I ever knew of beets was the slimy pickled kind they had on the Pizza Hut salad bar. But now I know. Lovely picture. Aren't they pretty? Kelly

Kate said...

Hi, Kelly;
My 2nd experience with a beet was much like yours. I was a little traumatized by my first canned beet experience so it took a lot of convincing to try them again. Very glad I did... :)

ShadowySteeds said...

These beets are just lovely to look at! Be worthwhile growing just to photograph!

Meredith said...

I love beets! Although I hated the canned version I was served as a child, I gave beets another try as an adult, and I always have to start with fresh ones and begin by roasting them for any recipe. One of our favorite discoveries last winter was, believe it or not, Borscht, which is full of roasted beets and carrots and parsnips and all those cold, easily stored winter veggies. :) Never tried growing them, myself, although I'd sure love to have those stripes on a serving platter!

Kate said...

Hey, Shadowy Steed!
I was playing with my ponies today. They were quite rambunctious in the fresh snow. :))

Hi, Meredith;
Thanks for stopping by. I think we need to follow Shelle's lead and serve striped beets on our burgers. Wouldn't that make a pretty BBQ?

PS: If you have a borscht recipe, please share. I'd love to give it a go. :))

Wendy said...

These are so gorgeous and would probably make some stunning chips! I've been meaning to try these. Cute photo at the end!