Roots in the Spotlight: Beets

Looking to add some colorful flair to your restaurant dishes? Look for beets! These vibrant little root vegetables with a unique texture and taste are a real star among summer crops. They’re extremely versatile in the kitchen, lending themselves very well to a variety of recipes, from salads and side dishes to dips, soups or even desserts.

What are beets?

Beets are root vegetables that come in the shape of a bulb growing below the soil. From root to stalk, every part of the plant is edible. When bought fresh, they store well in the fridge for several weeks, with the stems cut off.

The Mediterranean coast is said to be the place of origin for the beets, where the Ancient Greeks cultivated and consumed them mostly for their leaves. By the 15th century, beets made their way to Europe, where people discovered that the roots were also worthy of culinary consideration. Beets reached America through European immigrants, like many other vegetables.

When are beets in peak season?

The best time for buying beets fresh is mid-summer to late fall. They’re cool weather crops, so they’re usually planted in early spring or late summer, depending on the time of the harvest. Because they store well, they are available all year round but they’re in the best shape between June and October.

Where to buy beets wholesale?

Trying to figure out the best way to keep your kitchen well stocked with plenty of fresh beets for your culinary endeavors? Get in touch with a reliable produce wholesaler like Valley View Produce. We carry a large variety of farm-fresh produce, including beets, that will cover all your restaurant’s needs.

How many types of beets exist in the U.S.?

Contrary to popular belief, beets come in more than one shape or color. Although deep red beets are by far the most common variety and the first one to pop in people’s minds, there are actually a couple of other types of beets available in the U.S. Here’s a round-up of the three main types of beets:

  • Red beets – The quintessential beet with a deep red color and a unique sweet earthy flavor. They can be cooked and served in any number of ways but the best way to maximize their potential is to roast them or toss them in a soup, borscht-style.
  • Golden beets – Red beets’ paler cousins, the golden beets, have an overall slightly milder flavor. They’re a great alternative for people who have not yet adjusted to the red beets’ intense taste.
  • Chioggia / Striped beets – Chioggia beets stand out through their candy cane-like stripes, but the flavor is similar to that of golden beets: mildly sweet and earthy. They can be cooked in much the same way as other types of beets.

What do beets taste like?

Flavor is a slightly controversial aspect when it comes to beets. Red beets are known to have an intense earthy flavor – too intense for some people. However, if the vegetables are properly washed and prepared, the earthiness can be reduced significantly and that will make way for other flavors to manifest themselves. Beets are also naturally sweet, and that sweetness can be made more potent through cooking.

What kind of recipes are beets used for?

Like we said, beets are an extremely versatile vegetable to have in your kitchen. Apart from their interesting flavor profile, they will undeniably add a pop of color to any dish you prepare – particularly if you’re using red beets.

Let’s start with the basics. Beets can be eaten raw, so you can safely shred or chop them and serve them as a fresh beet salad, thoroughly seasoned with herbs, olive oil and vinegar. The color alone will surely capture your guests’ attention and will turn even the most hardcore beet skeptics into fans.

Once you apply heat to beets, you unlock a whole new world of possibilities. The heat intensifies their sweetness and overall flavor, maximizing their potential. Beets can be grilled, roasted, steamed or boiled. Roasted beets make for delicious side dishes, that pair wonderfully with pork chops and grilled chicken. The secret is to let your beets cook enough for their natural sugars to caramelize.

If you’ve exhausted all traditional recipes or simply want to spice things up, it might be time to take some inspiration from foreign cuisines. Why not try beet hummus? Follow the standard recipe for hummus but add a reddish-purple twist to it.

Mix roasted or boiled beets with the other ingredients and impress your guests with an eccentric-looking dip. Alternatively, tap into a centuries-old Eastern-European cooking tradition and serve an authentic beet soup called borscht.

Let’s not forget about desserts. Beets are a popular ingredient in a variety of desserts due to their eye-catching color. They can be made into ice cream, cinnamon rolls, muffins or pudding, just to name a few.

No matter what the skeptics say, beets add a tremendous amount of character to your dishes, both inside and out. Their dense earthy flavor is a statement in itself, and their vibrant color is the proverbial cherry on top.