On the Beet Beat

Get your beets before they're out of season! Here's a fresh look at the humble beet. How do you select them? Store them? Prepare them? Read on to find out.

Peak Season: June through October.

Varieties: The most common is deep red, but you can also sometimes find golden beets, white beets and two-toned red and white beets.

Selection: Choose firm, smooth-skinned, small to medium beets. Those with scales or rough skins may be tough and strong-flavored; oversized ones may be woody. If greens are attached, they should be long, ruffled and brightly colored.

Storage: As soon as you bring beets home, cut off the tops, leaving 2 inches of stem on the root. Left attached, greens draw out moisture and wilt the root. Refrigerate unwashed roots and greens in separate plastic bags. The roots will keep for up to two weeks. The greens will keep for three to five days. Wrap them with a damp paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Preparation: Wash beets gently. If the skin breaks, beets lose color and nutrients. Boil or steam roots with the skin and about 1/2 inch of the stem intact. After they have been cooked, rub off the skin under running water or remove it with a paring knife. To avoid staining, use rubber gloves and don't place beets on porous surfaces. When serving raw beets, add them to a dish just before serving so they don't bleed onto other ingredients.

Nutrition: One medium beet has about 35 calories and 2 grams of dietary fiber. It's a good source of folic acid.

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