Steaming Vegetables

Healthiest way to cook beets

Steaming vegetables - beets and all, as well as boiling, are the simplest methods for cooking vegetables.

You don't need to make any decisions about the cooking temperature. The temperature of boiling water, whether on high heat or low, is always 212° F/100° C (at sea level, lower at higher elevations).

Hot water and steam are excellent carriers of heat making both, steaming and boiling, efficient methods, as well.

Steaming and boiling are also ideal for the rapid cooking of green vegetables which minimizes their loss of color.

Boiling will soften vegetables faster and more thoroughly.
However, with steaming, vegetables are not exposed directly to turbulent water, which helps retain their flavor, color and nutrients.
That's why most of healthy cooking recipes call for steamed vegetables, rather than boiled.

Steaming leaves the food tasting exclusively of its cooked self. Steaming beets will fill your kitchen with rather strong earthy-sweet aroma of cooked beets. But you can easily aromatize the steam by the inclusion of herbs and spices.

To steam whole beets, use small vegetables of uniform size.

Otherwise, steaming will take longer, and you risk overcooking the beets while trying to cook them evenly. Baby beets are great for steaming, and you can put them in the steamer along with their greens.

Washing beets

When you steam vegetables, it's hard to control saltiness or acidity. You also want to make sure the veggies are cooked evenly.

Arrange the pieces or whole vegetables in a single layer or a loose pile to allow the steam access all food surfaces.

Separate the beetroot from the green tops leaving about ½ inch of the stalk. You can leave the root end intact. I usually do.

If the greens look fresh, wash them thoroughly and either add to the steamer for the last 4 minutes of cooking time, or set aside and cook the greens separately.

Wash the beets gently and place them in the inner pan (or basket) of the steamer arranging the beets in a single layer. (With some steamers, you might need to put the steamer in the pot first and, then, carefully add the vegetables. Remove in the reverse order: vegetables first, then remove the steamer).

Add 2 inches of water to the steamer and bring to boil.

Place the basket in the steamer pot and steam at a rolling boil until the beets are tender.

Always cover the pot when steaming vegetables, and check the water level periodically. Some recommend putting marbles in the water - if they stop rattling, then all the water steamed away, and you have to add more.

  • It will take about 35-50 minutes to steam two pounds of fresh beets depending on their size. The beets are done when they can be easily pierced to their center with a sharp knife.
Plunge the beets in cold water, and peel when they are cool enough to handle, but still warm. Then, the skins will slip easily.

Steaming vegetables

To steam beets fast, wash, peel and cut the beets into ½-1 inch slices, wedges, or cubes.

  • Add 1 inch of water to a large pot and bring to boil.
  • Place sliced beets in a steamer basket, lower heat and cover. Steam until vegetables are crisp. Do not overcook, or they lose their potency. Try 7-10 minutes and check for tenderness. The amount of time will depend on how thick you sliced the beets, how tender you want them to be, and whether your beets are fresh or have been stored for awhile.
  • The cooking water from steaming vegetables contains minerals and water-soluble vitamins. Use it in cooking of soups or preparing other foods.

The steamer that I like and use most often - you see it in the picture - is a VeggiSteam Silicone Steamer.

Available from, it is also very convenient to use for steaming vegetables in microwave.

Serve steamed beets simply: with a little butter and lemon juice as a side dish, with grains for complete nourishment, to complement roasted meats, or to make beet salads.

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