Why some people don’t care for beet greens is beyond me, But, I’m OK with it. Just leaves more for me.
When I go to Allard’s vegetable stand at the Home of Economy I almost always come away with free beet greens. That’s because some people ask to have the leaves removed from the beets they buy and the gals at Allard’s save them for me. Lately I’ve been encouraging people to try the greens, too. If you like spinach, if you like Swiss chard, you will LOVE beet greens.
Beets and their greens have long been a favorite of mine. This week I consumed some of both and they consumed me.
Our good friends, Jeannette and Harold Tanke gifted me with a big black garbage bag full of beets and greens gleaned from their lovely Grand Forks garden. I was going to preserve the beets by canning them in pint jars until two people told me they freeze their beets. Online I also learned you can freeze the greens as well.
I’m happy to report that as this week nears its end, all those beets and all those greens are in bags tucked away in our freezer just waiting for winter.
Here’s how to prepare beets for the freezer:
1. Trim all but 1/2-inch off the top of the beet. Leaving that ½-inch prevents the beet from bleeding its redness. Also leave the root intact. Wash with a vegetable brush or a cloth.
2. Sort by size and put beets in a large kettle. Add water to cover and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beets are tender; about 20 minutes for small beets, 45 minutes for larger beets. They have cooked sufficiently when you can pierce them with a fork.
3. Drain cooking water and place beets in ice water for about 10 minutes or until they are cool enough to handle.
4. Slice off the top of the beet and by rubbing your hands against the beet slip off the skin.
5. Either slice or dice the beets. Do not leave whole as I’m told whole beets don’t freeze well.
6. Place beets in quart-size zip-lock freezer bag and label content and date.
7. To avoid freezer-burn, the air inside the bag should be expelled. I don’t have a vacuum sealer so I inserted a straw at the end of a bag, sealed it up to the straw, sucked the air out through the straw then quickly sealed the tiny opening. Works like a charm.
Now for those yummy greens:
I was so delighted to learn that beet greens freeze beautifully as they are a great addition to soup, stews and omelets.
I cut the stems off the leaves, gave them three washings in cold water and watched them perk up right before my eyes.
I blanched the greens in boiling water one to two minutes, drained them, tossed them in an ice bath and swished them around a bit. Then I squeezed the water from the greens and put them in freezer bags once again expelling all the air with a straw.
The greens hang onto their vibrant green color. They have a wonderfully earthy flavor that is hard to describe. I like to serve them with a bit of bacon grease (adds a smoky flavor), salt, pepper and vinegar. My husband, Jim, loves vinegar on many things. In fact, he puts vinegar on his hot buttered beets and imagines them as beet pickles, which we also love.
Here’s what they say about beets and their greens:
Beets contain valuable nutrients that may help lower blood pressure, fight cancer and inflammation, boost stamina, and support detoxification
Beet greens are equally, if not more, nutritious with nutrients that may strengthen your immune system and support brain and bone health.
Just so you know — if you only eat beets and chuck their greens you may be doing yourself a disservice. Research shows that the greens also may help ward off osteoporosis by boosting bone strength and they may fight Alzheimer’s disease.
Yes, the beets, the greens and I consumed each other this week, but I’d take another big black garbage bag full any day.