How to Prepare, Store and Freeze Beet Greens

Whether you bought a bushel of beets at the farmer's market or got a bountiful harvest from your garden, learn how to prepare beets so you can enjoy them all year long.
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Botanical Names: Beta vulgaris

Beets are part of the Chenopodiaceae family, also known as the Goosefoot family. Within this botanical family includes spinach, Swiss chard, quinoa among 1,500 other species. Plants within this family are typically edible and rich in calcium. Many of the family members tolerate salty and alkaline soils causing them to be ideal plants for these locations. This also results in higher sodium contain. Beet greens are considered part of the “green leafy” types and considered a great source of dietary fiber that has high elevated levels of Vitamin A, E and C. It is often substituted in recipes were spinach or Swiss chard are used.

Buying: When using beet greens in recipes, it is best to purchase them as fresh as possible – if you are not growing them yourself in your garden. Buying at local farmer’s market ensure that they were picked relatedly close to the date of purchase. Beet greens are available in grocery stores, but their leaves often look beat up. When purchasing, you want to look for fresh, deep dark green leaves. Avoid wilted, limp or yellowing foliage. They are seasonally at their peak typically in summer, fall and winter depending on where you are located.

Storing: The length of storage really depends on what care is taken before putting in the refrigerator. For the best longevity, remove greens from beet root, wash and allow to dry (or shake off excess water), wrap in dry paper towel and store in a Ziploc bag. Place in vegetable draw, the range with doing this practice of storage is that the greens will last up to two weeks. However, many have stated that using the greens with 2 to 5 days of purchase yields the best flavor.

Preparing: When you are ready to cook with your beet greens, remove from plastic bag. If the leaves are yellow, limp or wilted discard to the compost pile. Remove the center rib, similar to how Swiss chard or kale is prepared. This rib can be added to your compost pile as well. Wash, dry and cook.

Freezing: If you would prefer to freeze your beet greens for later use the process is quite simple. Once your greens are prepared as instructed above, place in a boiling pot of water for 1 to 2 minutes – this process is called blanching. After cooking, immediately place the greens in an ice bath (bowl full of ice and water). This will stop the cooking process. Place on paper towel or cheese cloth to squeeze out all excess water. Then transfer to a freezer bag and your greens are ready to use at any time of the year. Beet greens typically last 10 to 12 months in the freezer when prepared in this method.

Recipes: As mentioned above, beet greens can be used in lieu of spinach, Swiss chard, or kale. Many fans of beet greens state that their favor, texture and taste are most similar to Swiss chard. There are several different recipes when it comes to cooking with beet greens – they are used rare or cooked. It has become very popular to use the immature greens to top salads, which is a great way to use those beets that are thinned out during gardening.

Next time you buy beets, remember not only the root is edible and delicious, but so are the leaves. Participate in the root-to-leaf food movement today!

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