Bunched Red Beets may be eaten raw, or cooked by roasting, steaming, boiling or baking. Use small, tender leaves in green salads; braise remaining greens, pinching off coarse stems. The lovely red color of beets will stain your hands, clothes and counter tops, wear gloves, apron and use a cutting board.
The secret to enjoying beets is to roast them like you would a baked potato. When they are cool enough to touch, don a pair of gloves and peel them. Now they are ready to use in a salad, in Harvard Beets, Pickled Beets, or served warm with butter, salt and pepper.
The wild beet ancestor of the Red Ace Beet is thought to have originated in prehistoric times in North Africa and grew wild along Asian and European seashores. The tribes that invaded Rome were responsible for spreading beets throughout northern Europe. Beets’ value grew in the 19th century when it was discovered that they were a concentrated source of sugar, and the first sugar factory was built in Poland. When access to sugar cane was restricted by the British, Napoleon decreed that the beet be used as the primary source of sugar, catalyzing its popularity. Around this time, beets were also first brought to the United States, where they are widely cultivated. The wildly creative energy of innovative chefs is revitalizing interest in what many of us still remember as an unappetizing canned vegetable. Beneath the beet’s unattractive hide is found a versatile flesh that may be served hot or cold, pickled, roasted, juiced, deep fried, mashed or eaten raw.