All about beetroot
Beetroot is a healthy a delicious vegetable that has enjoyed a surge in popularity over the last 10 years. Different formats and flavours to choose from, cookery shows on TV and social media and well documented health benefits have all contributed. Beetroot is a world away from a pickled slice with a dollop of salad cream and droopy salad.
Beetroot is a strong and resilient crop that mostly looks after itself. Because it doesn’t need many inputs from the grower, beetroot is easier to farm in a way that is sustainable and works with the environment.
Beetroot is the taproot part of the beetroot plant. The whole plant is edible although the leaves and stems are best enjoyed when the plants are young. The red beetroot we eat is one of a number of varieties of Beta Vulgaris which also include sugar beet from which sugar is processed.
In the UK, beetroot is grown on the fertile soils of the Cambridgeshire Fens – a traditional salad and vegetable growing area in the East of England. The Fens provide the perfect combination of fertile soil, sun and water to produce a sweet, full-flavoured veg. Beetroots need plenty of sunshine to get the sweet taste they are renowned for.
Beetroot is grown from seed sown in May. The crop is ready to harvest from early July up to October.
At home in the North
Although, like so many crops, beetroot was originally domesticated in the Middle East, the vegetable is best suited to the cooler growing conditions found in Northern Europe.
As a result, beetroot is an important part North and Eastern European cooking in Polish soups, Barszcz Zabielany or Barszcz Czysty Czerwony and Lithuanian cold soup for summer šaltibarščiai. Here are the Top 9 Eastern European Beetroot Recipes.
The cooked beetroot products available on our supermarket shelves are harvested when the beetroot is small to medium size. It is graded into different sizes and cooked in small batches to ensure quality. Medium sized beetroot are carefully selected and vacuum packed before being steam cooked to keep in the freshness.
The baby and rosebud beetroot take a different path. Following a Mrs Beeton recipe, some get a dash of specially selected mild malt vinegar to enhance the flavour and extend their the keeping qualities in your fridge. The rest of the sweetest baby beets are infused with quality vinegars and natural flavours such as sweet chilli.
To juice or not to juice?
Did you know that eating 200g of cooked beetroot provides the same health benefits as drinking 500ml of juice? So whether you are juicer or a snacker you can easily get your 5-a-day with beetroot!
In the mood
One of the earliest known benefits of beetroot is its use as an aphrodisiac during the Roman times. And it wasn’t all just folklore. It has since been found to contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
Head and shoulders
If you boil beetroot in water and then massage the water into your scalp each night, it works as an effective cure for dandruff. This may be because your head turns pink so no one notices the dandruff.