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There is a wide variety of beets; however, the most popular type is the Beta vulgaris, ranging from dark red to deep purple. Beets are believed to have been developed from a prehistoric North African root resembling a parsnip; however the similar bulbous shape didn’t appear until the end of the 1500s in Europe. Beets are famous for having been grown in the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Both the beetroot and leaves are edible, even though historically only the leaves, known as beet greens, were consumed, while the beetroot was used medicinally for digestion. Beets are an excellent source of vitamin A, B-6, C, calcium, iron, folate, fiber, copper, phosphorus, manganese, potassium and magnesium, and are full of powerful antioxidents called betalains, which give beets their deep red color and helps prevent cancer, boost energy, cure anemia, lower blood pressure and cleanse the liver. This sweet vegetable does contain the highest sugar content out of all the vegetables; however, beets have amazing health benefits and have been known to improve cataracts and prevent macular degeneration, increase circulation and respiration, heal skin issues, and stimulate the immune system.
The healthiest way to consume beets is to juice it. Since the flavor can be rather strong, beet juice is usually mixed with tastier fruits and vegetables. The roots can be combined with Goat Cheese, pistachios or barley to make fabulous salads, blended with yogurt and hummus, made into ghanoush or soup, pickled, fried, boiled or roasted. Beets can also be blended with ice cream, jam and desserts to enhance their color and flavor.
Beets love cold weather below 75°F, and are hardy enough to survive frost, which make them a favorite for gardeners in northern regions. Plant your St. Clare Heirloom beet seeds as early as March to April, and for later crops from June to September.
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