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Practical Plates: You can’t beat beets!

If you planted your beets in the spring, you probably harvested this month. Beets can be planted the first frost-free day, which can be anytime from April to June.

Beets are an excellent source of folate and a good source of potassium, vitamin C and fiber. They are low in calories and fat-free. Beets can be purchased in cans or jars, but also are available fresh from the store or your garden. Beets can be eaten hot or cold and go well with many meats and other vegetables.

Many fresh beets are sold in bunches with the greens still attached. When selecting fresh beets, look for firm, round beets with a slender tap root (root at the bottom) and a smooth surface.

Beets are also known as “beetroots.” The most common beets are red beets but there are golden beets that have the same taste and texture as red beets but are lighter colored. Chioggia beets (known as candy beets) have a dark red outer skin covering fleshing of pink and white striped rings. Candy beets have a very sweet flavor.

The leaves, or the beet greens, are very nutritious and delicious. They are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium. They also are a good source of calcium, iron and copper.

Did you know that the size of the beet determines if and how it should be cooked? Small beets (less than 1.5 inches round) are excellent raw in salads. Medium and large size beets are good for cooking.

Very large beets may be too tough and woody tasting for eating.

Beets can be boiled, baked, steamed, microwaved, frozen and canned. For information on how to can beets, visit https://extension.psu.edu/red-beets

Beet greens can be cooked whole. Larger bunches can be sliced. Sauté them plain or with some garlic and onion.

Roasted beet and green salad

6 medium beets with greens attached

2 large oranges

1 medium sweet onion, cut into thin slices

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp grated orange peel

Mixed greens, rinsed and chopped

Preheat oven to 373 degrees F.

Wash beets and trim off the greens so 1-inch stems remain on the beets.

Put beets in a baking dish in a single layer. Add ¼ inch of water to dish, cover with foil and place in oven. Roast for 30 to 60 minutes depending on their size.

Cool the beets and rub off the skins. Cut each into 8 wedges and place in salad bowl.

Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, garlic and grated orange peel.

Add the beet and orange mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a bed of mixed greens. Top with onions.

Servings: 6

Calories: 162

Total fat: 9.3 grams

Fiber: 4.2 grams

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