How to Store Beetroot

Beetroots are a nutritious and versatile root vegetable often enjoyed for their earthy taste and vibrant color.

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Storing beetroots properly is crucial to maintaining their quality and freshness.

Whether you’re an avid gardener with a bountiful harvest or a consumer with a bulk purchase, knowing how to store beetroots can prolong their shelf life and ensure you get the most out of this vegetable.

Beetroot stored in a cool, dark place. A wooden crate filled with fresh beetroot. Some beetroot wrapped in paper to keep them fresh

When you bring fresh beetroots home, your first step should be to prepare them for storage.

This involves removing the green tops, leaving about two inches of the stems intact to prevent the roots from bleeding.

Beets should be kept dry since moisture can lead to premature spoilage.

Store them in a cool, dark place if you plan to use them within a few days.

However, for longer storage, the refrigerator provides the optimal environment.

Here, placed in the crisper drawer, beetroots can stay fresh for several weeks.

Should you have an abundance of beetroots or a need to keep them for extended periods, freezing offers an excellent solution.

After washing and cooking the beets until tender, cool them in an ice bath, peel, then slice or dice before spreading the pieces on a lined sheet pan.

Freeze until solid and transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container, making sure to label it with the date.

This method preserves the beets for months while retaining much of their taste and nutritional value.

Selecting the Best Beets for Storage

When looking for beets to store, it’s important to choose ones that are fresh and will remain hardy throughout their storage life.

Identifying Fresh and High-Quality Beets

To ensure you’re selecting the freshest beets for storage, look for beets with unblemished skin and a vibrant color.

The skin should be smooth and devoid of cuts or soft spots.

A fresh beet will be firm to the touch; if it yields under slight pressure, it may already be past its prime.

The beets should still have their stem and taproot intact, which are indicators of freshness and help in prolonging their shelf life.

Here’s a quick checklist for selecting fresh beets:

  • Skin: Check for unblemished, smooth, and vibrant skin.
  • Firmness: Press gently to ensure the beet is solid and firm.
  • Stem and Taproot: Ensure both are still attached and look healthy.

Understanding the Impact of Beet Size on Storage

The size of the beet can influence how well it stores.

Smaller beets tend to store better and for longer periods due to their denser structure and the fact that they typically contain less moisture than larger ones.

On the other hand, large beets are often more mature and may not last as long when stored.

When selecting beets for storage, aim for a consistent size to facilitate even storage conditions.

A beet that is too large or too small compared to the others might not store similarly and could affect the batch.

Key considerations for beet size:

  • Consistency: Choose beets of a uniform size for even storage results.
  • Density: Smaller beets are denser and often store better.
  • Moisture Content: Larger beets may have more moisture, which can shorten storage life.

Pre-Storage Preparation

Proper preparation of beets for storage is crucial to maintaining their freshness and flavor. Ensuring that beets are adequately cleaned and trimmed, and their greens separated, can significantly extend their shelf life.

Cleaning and Trimming Beets

Firstly, you will want to remove any loose dirt from your beets.

To do so, gently wash the beets under cool running water, making sure not to bruise the skin.

Use your hands or a soft brush to clean off the soil carefully.

It is important to wash the root vegetables thoroughly since any remaining dirt can hasten spoilage during storage.

Do not soak the beets, as excessive moisture can lead to rotting.

Once they are clean, trim the roots, cutting off any long, thin root tails.

However, be careful to keep about 2 inches of the top stem intact to prevent the beets from “bleeding” during storage.

Separating Beets from Their Greens

After you have cleaned the beets, you need to separate the beet greens from the root.

Cut the leaves, leaving about 1-2 inches of the stem attached to the root to minimize moisture loss and bleeding.

You should do this because the greens can draw moisture out of the beetroot, which can compromise its firmness and taste.

The removed beet greens can be stored separately and are quite nutritious.

They can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for a few days.

Wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them inside a plastic bag with some air holes for the best results.

Storing Beets in the Refrigerator

When you store beets in your refrigerator, it’s crucial to take advantage of the crisper drawer and regulate moisture and air circulation to extend their shelf life.

Using the Crisper Drawer for Fresh Beets

Your refrigerator’s crisper drawer is designed to keep your vegetables fresh for a longer period.

For beets, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the tops: Trim the beet greens, leaving about 2 inches of stem to prevent the beets from bleeding out.
  2. Prepare a bag: Place the beets in a perforated plastic bag to protect them from becoming soft and dry.
  3. If you don’t have a bag with pre-made holes, make several small holes yourself to allow moisture to escape.
  4. Crisper placement: Store your bagged beets in the crisper drawer away from fruits to prevent over-ripening caused by ethylene gas.

Optimal Moisture and Air Circulation

Managing moisture and air circulation is essential for prolonging a beet’s freshness:

  • Avoid high moisture: Too much moisture can lead to rot. Ensure your perforated bag isn’t sealed to discourage condensation.
  • Maintain air flow: The holes in the plastic bag permit air to circulate around the beets, which helps to prevent the accumulation of excess moisture.
  • Regular checks: Examine your beets periodically while in storage and remove any that show signs of spoilage to maintain the overall health of the bunch.

Storing Beets at Room Temperature

Beets sit on a kitchen counter, away from direct sunlight. A bowl of water nearby keeps them hydrated

When you plan to consume your harvest beets within a few days, storing them at room temperature is a suitable option.

This can help retain their freshness without the need for refrigeration, especially during the cooler months of winter.

Ideal Conditions for Room Temperature Storage

To ensure that your beets remain fresh while stored at room temperature, it’s important to create an environment that mimics a cool, dry winter day. Follow these specifics:

Location: Select a cool, dark place away from sunlight and heat sources. A pantry or cellar may be ideal.

Temperature: Ideally, maintain a temperature between 50-60°F (10-15°C). If the room is warmer, the beets may not last as long before they start to wilt.

Humidity: A moderate humidity level is preferred. Excess moisture can lead to rot, while too dry conditions can dehydrate and shrivel your beets.

Air Circulation: Ensure there is ample air circulation to prevent moisture accumulation. Do not cover the beets with airtight materials.

  • Note: If you’re using beets within five days, they can be left out at room temperature. If it’s warmer than usual or if you need to store them for slightly longer, consider alternative storage methods to preserve their freshness.

Long-Term Storage Solutions

For effective long-term storage of beets, you need a storage method that maintains their freshness by balancing temperature and humidity while preventing rot.

Using a Root Cellar for Beet Storage

Your root cellar is an optimal place for long-term beet storage, leveraging cooler temperatures and high humidity to keep your beets fresh.

Ensure temperatures range between 32°F (0°C) and 40°F (4°C) and maintain a humidity level of approximately 85-95% to mimic beet’s natural storage conditions in the ground.

Store your beets in crates or wooden boxes to facilitate airflow and avoid spoilage. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Clean your root cellar: Make sure it’s free from mold and pests.
  2. Organize your beets: Avoid damage by not stacking them too deep.
  3. Monitor conditions: Check periodically for signs of spoilage or temperature changes.

Storing Beets in Sand or Sawdust

If a root cellar is not available, using sand or sawdust provides a buffer for your beets, maintaining moisture levels and preventing shriveling during long-term storage.

Utilize a cool and dry area, such as a basement, where it stays consistently cool but does not freeze.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Choose your container: A wooden box or bin works well.
  2. Layer sand or sawdust: Start with a layer at the bottom of your container.
  3. Place the beets: Ensure they are not touching to prevent rot.
  4. Cover with sand or sawdust: Continue layering until the container is full or all beets are stored.
  5. Keep cool: An area that emulates cooler conditions of a root cellar is ideal.

Be sure to check beets stored in sand or sawdust routinely for any signs of spoilage to maintain the quality of your long-term storage.

Freezing Beets for Extended Preservation

Freezing beets is a reliable method to extend their shelf life while maintaining their nutritional quality and taste.

Proper preparation and vacuum-sealing are critical for achieving frost-free storage.

Preparation Steps for Freezing Beets

Before freezing your beets, it’s important to clean and blanch them to preserve their color and texture.

  1. Wash your beets thoroughly to remove dirt.
  2. Trim the tops, leaving about 2 inches of the stem to minimize color bleeding.
  3. Blanch the beets in boiling water for 3-5 minutes depending on size.
  4. Cool them immediately in an ice water bath.
  5. Once cooled, peel the beets and cut them into preferred sizes.

Note: Smaller pieces will freeze more uniformly and thaw quicker.

Vacuum-Sealing for Frost-Free Storage

To protect against freezer burn and frost, vacuum-sealing your beets is ideal.

  • Place the prepared beet pieces on a baking sheet and freeze until solid (6-8 hours).
  • Once frozen, transfer the pieces into a vacuum-sealable bag.
  • Vacuum-seal the bag, removing as much air as possible to prevent frost and freezer burn.

Reminder: Clearly label your vacuum-sealed bags with the date of freezing. Vacuum-sealed beets can be stored in the freezer for up to a year.

Maximizing Beet Quality and Nutrition

A clean, organized kitchen with a refrigerator and storage containers for beetroots. Properly labeled containers indicate different storage methods such as refrigeration, freezing, or canning

Beets are a nutritious addition to your diet, whether as a salad or a side dish. Preserving their quality and nutrients is key to enjoying their health benefits.

The Best Methods to Maintain Nutrients

Roasting: Preserve vitamins and minerals by roasting beets in an oven at a moderate temperature. This method retains the vegetables’ integrity and concentrates their natural sugars.

  • Boiling: If you choose to boil your beets, keep the skin on during the process to minimize nutrient loss.

Cold Storage:

  • Refrigeration: Store beets in a crisper drawer to maintain freshness.
  • Freezing: Cooked beets can be frozen, ensuring dryness to prevent ice crystal formation.

Health Benefits of Properly Stored Beets

Nutritional Value: Beets are packed with betalains and antioxidants, which support your body’s defense against oxidative stress and inflammation.

Health Impact:

  • Blood Pressure Management: Consuming beets may help in regulating your blood pressure.
  • Anti-inflammatory Properties: Properly stored beets retain anti-inflammatory compounds that can contribute to overall wellness.

Utilizing Beets in Cooking and Recipes

Beets, with their natural sweetness and earthy flavor, provide a versatile ingredient for both cooked and raw dishes, offering a nutritious boost to your meals.

From blending into smoothies to featuring in hearty soups, beets can truly transform your cooking.

Creative Ideas for Cooked and Raw Beets

Cooked Beets:

  • Roasted Beets: Enhance their natural sugars by roasting beets in the oven at 400°F for 35-40 minutes. They make a wonderful addition to salads or can stand alone as a flavorful side dish.
  • Beet Soup: Beets are a key ingredient in borscht, a traditional Eastern European soup known for its vivid color and deep taste.
  • Beet Hummus: For a vibrant twist, blend cooked beets into your hummus to add sweetness and a pop of color to the spread.

Raw Beets:

  • Beet Salad: Thinly slice or shred raw beets for a crunchy component in salads. Dress with a citrus vinaigrette to complement the beet’s flavor.
  • Smoothie: Incorporate raw beets into a smoothie for a nutritious, energizing start to your day. Their subtle sweetness pairs well with berries and bananas.

Preserving the Texture and Flavor in Dishes

  • Cooked Beets: Properly cooked beets should be tender but retain a slight bite, a balance best achieved through boiling or steaming until just fork-tender.
  • Add to Soups and Stews: To maintain their texture and vibrant hue in dishes, add cooked beets at the final stages of your recipes.
  • Sautéed Beets: Quickly sautée beet slices with a bit of oil over medium heat to preserve their toothsome texture and concentrate their flavor, which can then be tossed into salads or served as a stand-alone side.

Proper Labeling and Monitoring

Beetroot stored in a labeled container with a lid, placed in a cool, dark area. A thermometer monitors the temperature

In preserving the quality of your stored beets, it is crucial to label correctly and continuously check for signs of spoilage. By doing so, you protect your beets against premature spoilage and waste.

Tips for Labeling and Dating Stored Beets

When you store beets, whether they are fresh or processed, use a permanent marker to clearly label each container or bag. Here’s what you should include:

  • Name of the product: “Beets” or “Pickled Beets”.
  • Date of storage: Write the date of when you placed the beets into storage.
  • Use-by date: Based on the storage method you are using, indicate an approximate use-by date for quality.

Example of a label:

Stored: 04/24/2024
Use by: 08/24/2024

Checking for Signs of Spoilage

Regularly inspect your stored beets for signs of spoilage. Here’s what to look for:

  • Discoloration: Any drastic changes in color may indicate spoilage.
  • Odor: A sour or off smell is a sign that your beets are spoiling.
  • Texture: Beets that begin to shrivel or become soft are losing freshness.
  • Mold: The presence of mold suggests that the beets are no longer safe to consume.

Inspect your beets at least once a week to ensure they remain edible and to enjoy their earthy flavor for as long as possible.

Harvesting and Storing Garden Beets

Successfully harvesting and storing garden beets ensures that you can enjoy this root vegetable’s earthy sweetness long after you’ve picked it. Timely harvest and proper storage can maintain the beets’ freshness and nutritional value.

Techniques for Harvesting Beets

To harvest beets from your garden:

  • Timing: Beets are usually ready for harvest around 50-70 days after planting. The maturity of beetroots is evident when their shoulders start to protrude above the soil surface.
  • Method: Grasp the beet tops close to the root and gently wiggle to loosen the soil before pulling. Avoid excessive force to prevent damage to the beetroot.
  • Post-Harvest Handling: After harrowing, brush off excess soil without washing the roots to minimize the risk of spoilage. Keeping the roots dry is crucial at this stage.

If you’re sourcing beets from a farmer’s market or a farm, check for firmness and a vibrant color, which are indicators of fresh, recently harvested beets. Look for offerings that still have their greens attached, as university guidance suggests this is a sign of freshness.

Storing Fresh Garden Beets

For storing beets:

  • Temperature and Humidity: Keep the harvested beets in a cold and moist environment, ideally between 32°F and 40°F (0°C to 4°C) with 95% relative humidity. These conditions are best replicated in a refrigerator or a root cellar.
  • Preparing for Storage:
    • Remove the beet greens, leaving about two inches of the stem to prevent the roots from bleeding.
    • Place the unwashed beets in a perforated plastic bag to allow some air circulation and to prevent excessive moisture buildup.
  • Placement: Store your beets in a less-trafficked section of the refrigerator, such as the back part of the lowest shelf, to reduce the chances of bruising and ensure consistent temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find targeted answers to common queries on how to maintain the freshness and quality of beetroot through various storage techniques.

How can I store beetroot without a refrigerator for optimal freshness?

To keep beetroot fresh without refrigeration, store them in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated place like a root cellar or basement.

The ideal temperature is between 32-40°F (0-4°C), with a high humidity level of 90-95%.

What are the best methods for preserving beetroot long-term?

For long-term preservation, freezing is an excellent option. Blanch the beets in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then transfer them to ice water to cool.

Dry the beets completely and store them in freezer-friendly bags for up to 6 months.

Can you provide tips for storing beetroot in the refrigerator effectively?

To store beetroot effectively in the refrigerator, place them in the crisper drawer to maintain a temperature between 32°F and 40°F.

Keep the humidity high, and store them away from fruits like apples and pears that emit ethylene gas.

What techniques are recommended for keeping beetroot during winter?

During winter, the key is to mimic cold, damp cellar conditions by storing in an unheated garage, shed, or buried in boxes of moist sand or peat moss to prevent drying out and freezing.

What is the correct procedure for freezing beetroot to maintain quality?

For freezing, first clean and trim the beetroot, leaving about two inches of the stem.

Blanche and shock in ice water to preserve color and flavor. Dry thoroughly before placing in airtight, freezer-safe bags.

How should cooked beets be stored to maximize their shelf life?

Store cooked beets in airtight containers within two hours of cooking, and place them in the refrigerator.

They can last for about one week when properly stored.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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