Beets are one of those things that I never seem to plant quite enough of.
My husband always loves to tell the story of the year he didn't get beets. "Why didn't you plant them" he asked?
I explained to him that I actually had, but the CSA and restaurant folks had been getting them all. I guess I just didn't know he was missing them.
Well, I don't do that anymore.
I plant lots of 'em and lots of kinds. I've just come in from the garden and pulled 11 distinctive varieties...a mere drop in the bucket! As I check my Seed Saver's Exchange Yearbook(2010), I see members have listed 35 different open pollinated varieties. Wow!
The varieties boiling in my pot are: Long Blood Red, Early Wonder Tall Top, Cylindra, Sugar beet, Albino, Collosal Red mangel, Intermediate Yellow mangel, 3 Root Grex, Chioggia, Crapaudine, and Burpee's Golden.
Beets have been a part of our food story for a long time. They were cultivated in the area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and in India as early as third century B.C.
Selection of beet types over the years has provided us with an astounding variety - flat, round, long, tapered, red, white , black, striped, yellow and golden.
Their flavour is as different as their appearance-sweet, mild, earthy. And their use equally versatile.
Grated raw beets are "grate" on salad, in baking too. Roasted, boiled and of course pickled, they shine!
They are really quite easily to grow, but like a loose fertile soil. This year in my clay soil, they did really well when I did something just a bit different. When the soil became workable in the early spring, I drew a nice long trench as my row, then filled the trench with some lovely compost. I wasn't sure if the beets would revolt once they hit the clay when growing, but in fact, they didn't. They just kept on growing.
I pushed the little cluster of beet seed into the compost at about 3" intervals, and kept the rows well watered until I saw germination. The rate of germination was fantastic.
I still have most of the crop in the garden, selling and eating as the days roll by. I know very soon, I'll have to take them up, it will simply get too cold. But that's the other great thing about beets. Their ability to store really well.
I'll take their greens off at the root ( and feed them to the waiting chickens), then put the beets in barrels layered with straw. These barrels will store well in my garage in the winter. The only thing I have found is the barrels must have lids of some sort....the mice appreciate the sweet treats too!
In the spring, I'll pull some nice specimens out, and replant them so I grow them on for seed. As they cross readily with each other, and with chard, it's important to separate them well...one in each of 3 hoophouses, and others scattered around the property.
It doesn't take long for them to send up their seed stalks, and the work of creating seed begins.
Then the cycle begins again!
Here's a recipe that's a bit different to consider:
Beet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
- 1 pound beets (about 2 medium)
- Cooking spray
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
- 2 teaspoons grated orange rind
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, chilled
- 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts, toasted
Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare cake, peel beets using a vegetable peeler. Grate beets, using the large holes of a grater, to measure 2 cups.
Coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; line bottoms with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray.
Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well-blended. Add beets; beat well. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks; remove from pans. Carefully peel off wax paper, and cool cake completely on wire racks.
To prepare frosting, beat orange rind, vanilla, and cream cheese with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar; beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat).
Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting; top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle nuts over top of cake. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator.
- This recipe is from MyRecipes.com - It is fantastic!