Cooking Fresh Beets

Boiling is the most basic and simplest way of cooking fresh beets. The following rough guide will give you some ideas how to do it right without sacrificing beets quality and flavor.

To prepare beets for cooking, separate the roots from the greens leaving 1 or 2 inches of stem on the beets.

Cooked beetroot

Leave the tap root intact. Save the greens for another use if they are crisp and healthy.

Wash the beets gently trying not to break the skin. Beet cooking water is usually discarded, so the beets do not require vigorous scrubbing anyway.

Place the beets in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to boil. Cooking time depends on the size of beets, and if the beets are fresh or have been stored for a while.

Young, small beets will need 30-40 minutes to cook. Large and storage beets require 1 hour or more. When the beets are done, plunge them in cold water, and rub the skin off with your hands, or peel using a knife.

Boiling Beets Do’s and Don’ts


    Cook beetroots in a covered pan, in slow boiling water over medium heat. Beet leaves, on the other hand, are best cooked with the lid off, should be boiled very fast, and never allowed to go off the boil.

    Change the water during the cooking If you don’t like the unpleasant smell going on from boiling beets, but by doing so you will waste a good deal of the minerals. A better plan is to follow advice of our grandmothers, and put a piece of toasted crust in a little muslin bag, along with the beets.

    Be sure to drain the beets thoroughly after cooking, and as quickly as possible. Drop them into cold water for a minute, or use running water, to make them easier to peel, but do not leave in the water to cool.

    If you are planning a hot beet dish, take care to serve beets hot in a hot bowl with a hot cover. Nothing is more unappetizing than cold or lukewarm vegetables in a dish that is supposed to be hot.


    Don't boil the beets if you can steam or bake them.

    Don't use any more water than you can possibly help if you must boil the beets: let them cook in their own juices as far as possible.

    Don't throw away the water from cooking fresh beets - it contains much of the essential salts of the vegetable. Use it to make a beet soup that same day if you can.

    Don't peel the beets before boiling except for some borscht recipes.

    Don't dump the vegetable into the dish all wet. Strain and drain out the moisture as completely and as quickly as you can, taking care not to spoil the shape and appearance of the beets, or to let it get cold.

    Don't put hot boiled beets into a cold dish if it is to be served cold. Let them cool first. A hot thing put into a cold dish is one of the most unpardonable crimes in cookery and it is "worse than a crime — it is a blunder," likely to undo all your trouble and spoil the whole thing.

    Don't discard any left-over beets, however small. They can all be used up for salads, garnishes, or soups: just don't leave them to become stale or sour, especially if they have been served in sauce.

Click here for more methods and advice on how to cook beets.

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