Botanical Names: Beta vulgaris
This article is to define the different types of beets when it relates to shape or color and includes varieties or cultivars for that specific type.
Common Garden Beets:
Also referred to as table beets or beetroot. This category can be broken down by color:
Red Beets – People are most familiar with red or purple beets, often as children we experience canned beets from the grocery store. Please do not let this be your only taste experience with beets because it is completely wrong. Give beets a try again, I promise they will taste completely different than you remember. Roasted beets are absolutely delicious and when they come straight from the garden they are amazing. Beets are similar in potatoes where they almost will take on qualities of whatever you pair with them such as cooking them au gratin replacing the potatoes with beets. Delicious! Varieties to consider include: ‘Detroit Dark Red’, ‘Crapaudine’ and ‘Crosby Egyptian’.
Golden Beets – Golden or yellow beets have a mild flavor compared to their counterparts. Many people are still becoming familiar with this color even though the first golden beet was introduced in the 1820s or earlier. Golden beetroot is a great way to introduce this vegetable into your family meals with its colorful appeal. With their mild and sweeter flavor, their taste is intensified when roasting. Some cultivars to consider growing: ‘Burpee’s Golden’, ‘Golden’ and ‘Golden Detroit’.
Striped Beets – these varieties are called Chioggia or Bassano Beets. The striping occurs on the interior of the vegetable and gives it a candy-cane pattern. This heirloom variety was first introduced to the American public in the late 1840. It was named after a fishing village in Northern Italy where it had been first cultivated in the early 1800’s. It can also go by the names: Candy Stripe or Bull’s Eye Beet.
‘Cylindra’ Beets – Want to impress your guests at your next dinner party? Serve your guests ‘Cylindra’ beets, which look more like a carrot than a beet. This Danish heirloom variety dates back to the 1880s and goes by two other names including ‘Formanova’ and ‘Butter Slicer’. The latter name is due to its soft and desirable texture. The almost burgundy long, cylindrical shape is where the name obviously stems. At full growth after 60 days, most measure out at being typically 6 to 9 inches long.
Mangel-wurzel Beets – Also referred to as mangold. This type of beet was often used for animals in the 1800s, but it has grown in popularity over the ages with gardeners. The shape looks more like a cross between a carrot and beet creating a fat, top-heavy carrot. Varieties such as ‘Mammoth Red Mangel’ can have beets that reach 20 pounds each! Many gardeners prefer to pick this variety when it is immature and smaller in scale. ‘Yellow Cylindrical’ is another mangel variety that is a rare European heirloom having golden-yellow color with a sweet flavor profile.
Sugar Beets – Sugar Beets look more like a turnip than a beet. Their coloring is off-white and conical in root structure. About 20% of the world’s sugar production is from sugar beets and the other 80% coming from sugarcane. The sucralose level is extremely high and most people do not eat these beets as they would with the yellow, red, or white varieties. Sugar beets are typically only grown as a commercial crop. However, growing your own sugar beets would be a great project for children of all ages as the greens could be used like spinach or Swiss chard and the root could be used to produce sugar- teaching on multiple different levels about gardening and food.
Have fun with your garden and grow a different type and variety each year!