Botanical Names: Beta vulgaris
Short Term Storage:
If you have just recently purchased beet or beetroot at your grocery store or farmer’s market, they can keep for up to 2 to 3 weeks if stored properly. First, give the leaves and roots a good washing. Let air dry or make sure to completely dry before putting in refrigerator. Remove the greens, by leaving about 2 inches of stem attached to the root, so that bleeding does not occur. This is only necessary with red or purple beets as it does not occur with yellow and white varieties.
The greens can be wrapped in paper towel and placed in a Ziploc bag where all the air has been removed. Beet greens stored in this fashion will last 2 to 5 days after purchase. Use greens in place of spinach, Swiss chard or kale in favorite recipes. Many like the greens served raw with lettuce in salads. The greens are packed full of nutrition value and should not be discarded. When purchasing, make sure the greens are have no yellowing and are not limp.
The root should be completely dry before storing. Place in a large Ziploc bag and remove all air. Then place in the crisper drawn of your refrigerator. With this preparation and care, the roots should last at least 2 to 3 weeks.
Long Term Storage:
If you are harvesting beets from your garden and have a good amount to store here is the best storage options. There are several different options to pick from depending on your space and use.
Root Cellar – For best results, your root cellar should be at a temperature of 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 95% humidity. Beets can be store either in sand, sawdust or peat moss that is damp. Using a container that has a lid such as a garbage can will help to retain moisture. The beets need to be prepared being storing. Greens should be removed; leaving about 2 inches of stem to avoid any bleeding of the root. Greens can be easily frozen for later use in dishes (link to how to buy, store and freeze beet greens). As you harvest from your garden, layer beets within your storage unit. Making sure the soil, sawdust or peat moss is continually damp. Beets will last for 2 to 3 months using this method.
Freezing – Freezing and canning beets can be the best way to store if use will not occur for some time. To freeze beets, wash and remove stems leaving about 2 inches of the stem to prevent any bleeding. Next, boil the beets until they are of the consistency that you prefer. This can typically take about 20 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the beets and variation. Smaller usually take 20 and large 45 minutes. You should be able to press into the beet with a fork. Once cooking is done, beets can either be placed in the refrigerator for cooling so that they can be handled or placed in an ice bath. After the beets have cooled and you are able to handle, remove skins and cut in slices, diced or desired shape. It is best to use a dark plastic cutting board and dark towels to staining anything with beet juice. Place beets in freezer bags and label with the month and year. With this type of storage technique, beets can last up to 8 to 12 months. Freezing raw beets is not recommended as it can change the texture and taste of the beet.
Canning or Pickling – Canning and pickling beets take several more steps that freezing them. For full instructions on canning, read the article “How to Can Beets” (link to article). Canned or pickled beets can typically last 12 months or a bit longer.
Whether it is short term or long term storage, there is always a solution for preserving vegetables from your garden.