Lasting from late May through early March, beet season is one of the longest seasons at our farm. Beets are a long season crop because of their excellent storage capabilities. We harvest beets fresh for most of the warm summer season and tend to leave the greens on when we do. In the fall we bulk harvest beets, removing the tops for optimal storage.
Beets can be found at our farmers’ market stand and in our online store for much of the year, and CSA members can expect them 5-6 times each season with the most arriving in early summer and late fall.
What we grow
We grow a wonderful variety of beets. Here’s a bit more information about each beet we grow.
- Standard Red: traditional beet with dark red flesh and skin, and an earthy flavor.
- Chiogga: a red and white striped beet that originated in Italy. Sometimes called candy cane or candy-striped beet.
- Golden: a beet with golden flesh and skin that tastes a little sweeter than traditional red beets and has the least amount of earthiness or dirt-like taste.
- Evansville Ember: a candy striped beet bred at UW Madison that comes in a range of shades and colors.
- Blushing Not Bashful: a white beet with a pinkish skin bred at UW Madison that is best for fresh eating.
Fun fact: There’s a reason beets taste like dirt to many people
Have you ever heard the complaint that someone doesn’t like beets because they taste like dirt? Or maybe experienced it yourself and wondered why these beautiful candy-colored vegetables have such an earthy quality?
That dirt-like, earthy flavor comes from a chemical compound found in beets called Geosmin. It is actually the same compound that is released by dry soil when rain hits, giving us that beautiful “just rained smell” when we walk outside after a storm. Some people love this earthy flavor found in beets, but others really struggle to get past it.
Luckily, the compound is found in differing quantities across the beet family, with the most being present in traditional red beets (which have the deepest, earthiest flavor). Chiogga or candy-striped beets also have a large amount of geosmin. Golden beets have the least amount, making them the best bet for people who don’t enjoy the earthiness traditionally found in beets.
Geosmin is also located right under the skin so if you want to remove this part of the beet taste profile, you can easily do so by boiling beets and removing the skins.
Why we include beet greens
We leave beet greens on as much as possible when we are harvesting beets fresh. We do this because beet greens are, biologically speaking, the same as leaves of their vegetable swiss chard (which has been bred to have a thicker stem, broader leaf and smaller root). Beet greens are a delicious vegetable in themselves and should be used when quality allows for their harvest. You can find more on how to cook with beet greens below.
When stored correctly, beets have a superb storage capability. We recommend you store them in the produce door of your fridge, preferably in a plastic bag, for the best long-term storage. They will last weeks to months there, getting softer as time goes on, but remaining perfectly usable.
Beet greens have a much shorter shelf life than beet roots, and MUST be removed. Beet greens should be cut from the beet roots, unbanded and stored in a loose plastic bag. Removing the greens from the roots will also keep the actual beet roots from wilting. Try to use the beet greens within 3-4 days for best flavor and quality.
Because beets store so well in the refrigerator they aren’t always a huge priority for us in terms of longer-term preservation. However, beet pickles and beet relish are a great way to enjoy beets as a condiment and experiment if you are still learning to enjoy their flavor.
Pickled Beets: there is no shortage of pickled beet recipes online and in produce-forward cookbooks. Some will be for quick pickled refrigerator beets and others will ask you to can the pickles for longer-term shelf storage. Some are sliced and others are cut into bite-size chunks. Regardless of the recipe, you can’t really go wrong here. If you enjoy pickled beets this is a fun place to experiment and play with different flavor combinations (add dill, fennel, coriander or citrus peels for a different brine). Serve them as an appetizer, add them to salads, and use them to add color, interest, and flavor to charcuterie spreads.
Homemade Beetroot Relish: use this much like you’d use a jam or chutney– for making burgers and sandwiches more interesting, spicing up cheese boards, and as condiment alongside grilled red meats. This also freezes well if you are looking for a great way to freeze beets.
Beets are an incredibly versatile vegetable that can be eaten, cooked, and served in a myriad of ways. We highlight several of these methods in recipes below, but thought we’d take a second to share a few of our favorite preparations:
- Shredded (or grated) and eaten raw on salads
- Shredded (or grated) as a base (or component in) coleslaw
- Spiralized and eaten raw as the base for a coleslaw or salad
- Spiralized and gently sauteed or roasted
- Thinly sliced and added to salads or sandwiches
- Thinly sliced and baked into chips
- Boiled until tender so the skins are easy to remove and then sliced, diced, mashed, or prepared however you like
- Cooked with herbs in a skillet for a quick side
- Salt-roasted to keep flavors intact and keep the beets from bleeding when cut
- Roasted in a foil packet (to steam and make the skins easy to remove) before slicing, dicing or mashing
- Shredded into a soup (like borscht)
Cooking with beet greens
Like we said earlier, we often leave the greens on our beets at market and in the CSA. These may be a new-to-you item but they really aren’t hard to use. Beet greens can be used as a substitute for spinach or chard in any dish. We like to chop them up and quickly blanch them right away to use in eggs, pasta or other dishes during the week. We also love to cook them with garlic and olive oil before adding to lasagna or other pasta dishes, eat them creamed like creamed spinach, or even add them to our smoothies.
The Love & Lemons cooking blog also has a ton of basic information on beet greens and how to use them. Visit their blog post to learn more.
Recipes for beet lovers
Roasted Beets with Shallot & Mustard Vinaigrette
Recipe by Irena Macri
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
4 medium to large raw beets, peeled and cut into small wedges (about 6–8 per beet)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted or roasted almonds or other nuts, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped coriander/cilantro or parsley
1/2 red onion or 2 small shallots, finely chopped (the smaller the better)
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard (Dijon is also fine)
1 clove of garlic, grated or finely diced
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
8 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Peel the beets (I do this under running water or you can use some gloves) and cut off the hard ends. Cut them into small wedges (about 6-8 per beet) and I suggest doing it on a piece of baking paper over a chopping board as to not stain the wood.
- Transfer the beets to a bowl and toss with olive oil, cumin and salt. Transfer onto a flat baking sheet lined with baking paper or grease with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes, rotating the tray and flipping the beets over half way.
- In the meantime, prepare the dressing by mixing all of the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside to marinate.
- If using raw almonds, you can then also toast those in a pan or in the oven at the same time.
- Once cooked, transfer the beets to a large plate and drizzle all over with the shallot dressing. You can use half, to begin with, and serve the rest on the table. Sprinkle with crushed nuts and chopped herbs.
Marinated Beet & Bread Salad
Recipe by Dishing up the Dirt
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
1 1/2 pounds beets, sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces (no need to peel)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 loaf of sourdough bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup torn fresh herbs (dill, parsley, basil)
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Place the beets in a large pot with enough water to cover them by at least 1 inch. Sprinkle them with a hefty pinch of salt and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the beets until they are tender, 12-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain.
- Place the beets and onion in a large bowl. On a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, and olive oil with a hefty pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle half the mixture into the bowl with the beets and onion. Toss to coat and set aside.
- Place the torn bread on a baking sheet and drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake until the bread is golden brown and crisp, 8-10 minutes tossing halfway.
- Add the bread to the bowl with the beets and onion. Drizzle in more of the dressing to taste and top with the goat cheese and fresh herbs. If need be, sprinkle with more salt to taste and a drizzle of olive oil.
Rainbow Beet Salad with Feta & Mint
Recipe by Monday Sunday Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 55 minutes
4 medium/large beets (2 yellow, 2 red) cooked and peeled
1/2 cup feta sliced
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup mandarins (about a dozen or so wedges) I used canned
1/4 cup mint roughly chopped plus extra leaves tossed about to garnish
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Lemon mint dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
A good pinch of kosher salt
Fresh pepper to taste
- Cook four medium to large beets using your preferred method (steamed, boiled etc.) See the notes below on how I cook my beets. Once cooled, slice beets into 1/4 inch thick rounds and place on the serving dish in rows, alternating the colors (one yellow row, one red row) — slightly overlapping the slices.
- While the beets are cooking, in a small, dry pan (over medium heat) lightly toast the pine nuts until fragrant and lightly browning — no more than five minutes. Set aside.
- Slice your block of feta into 1/4 inch wedges and tuck them in between the beet slices.
- Top with mandarins, chopped mint, toasted pine nuts, a few generous pinches of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
- In a small food processor or blender, blitz oil, lemon, yogurt, mint and salt and pepper. Serve over salad. * Alternatively, finely mince mint leaves, combine with other ingredients and shake in a sealed mason jar until well combined.
- Drizzle with lemon mint dressing, reserving the rest for the table (so dinners can add extra dressing as they please).
Recipes for beet haters
Beet chocolate cake
Recipe by From Asparagus to Zucchini Cookbook
Yield: 10 servings
Time: 1 hour
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3-4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup oil
3 cups shredded beets
- Heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease two 9-inch cake pans.
- Whisk dry ingredients together.
- Melt chocolate slowly over low heat or in a double boiler.
- Cook chocolate; blend thoroughly with eggs and oil. Combine flour mixture with chocolate mixture, alternating with beets. Pour into pans.
- Bake until fork can be removed from center cleanly, 40-50 minutes.
Recipe by Love & Lemons
Yield: 1 1/2 cups hummus
Time: 50 minutes
1 medium or 2 small red beets
2 garlic cloves
1½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons warm water
½ teaspoon each of cumin and coriander (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small baguette, sliced and toasted
Radishes, sliced in half (or other raw veggies)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon pine nuts
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Drizzle the beet with olive oil and then wrap the beet and garlic together in foil. Place on the baking sheet and roast 30 to 40 minutes, or until the beet is fork-tender.
- When cool enough to handle, peel the beet skins under running water using your hands. Chop the beet and place it in a blender. Add the roasted garlic, chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and water and blend until smooth. Add cumin and coriander, if you like. Chill until ready to use.
- Slather onto baguette and garnish with sesame seeds, pine nuts and parsley (all optional), or serve with crispy raw veggies.
Roasted Beet and Chickpea Tacos
Recipe by Live Eat Learn
Yield: 2-3 servings
Time: 55 minutes
2 red beets
3 tablespoons olive oil divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
2 ounces feta (or soft cotija)
1/4 red onion, sliced
Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
- Roast Beets: Preheat oven to 365°F (185°C). Trim, peel, and chop the beets into wedges. Set on aluminum foil, drizzle with 1 Tbsp oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Toss to coat then fold and seal the aluminum foil to form a pouch. Bake for 50 minutes, or until beet is fork-tender.
- Roast Chickpeas: Meanwhile, pat chickpeas dry with paper towels and spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Add 2 Tbsp oil, 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper, paprika, and cumin. Toss to coat, then add to the oven when the beets have 25 minutes left of cooking. Cook until a bit crispy.
- Assemble: Spoon beets and chickpeas into tortillas, piling on toppings and drizzling with lime juice.
Recipes for those who are beet curious
Beet & White Bean Burgers
Recipe by The Leek & The Carrot
Yield: 6 burgers
Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes (most of it inactive)
2 medium to large beets, about 3 cups
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup pecans
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons flex seeds
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup white beans
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
Burger buns, optional
Sliced cucumber, optional
Sliced red onion, optional
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Shred beets using food processer attachment or a hand-held shredder. Dump into a large bowl. Change out food processer blade so that the S-blade is ready to chop. There may be some residual beets in there. Don’t worry about it. We’ll be mixing everything together anyway.
- Add oats, pecans, sesame seeds, flax seeds, garlic, salt, and cinnamon to bowl of food processor. Process until the mixture forms a coarse flour. Add beets back in along with beans and tamari. Process until the mixture comes together, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. There will likely be some lumps remaining. This is fine. The mixture will also look wet, more like a thick beet hummus than a burger mixture. This is also correct.
- Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, scoop beet mixture and turn out onto prepared baking sheet. You should wind up with six patties. Cover the patties with parchment and press down gently with your hand or the flat bottom of the measuring cup. They should be 3/4 to 1-inch thick.
- Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Flip and bake 20-30 minutes more, based on your preference. The longer you bake them, the firmer/ drier the patties will be.
- Serve on a toasted burger bun with mayo, cucumber, red onion, and microgreens.
Easy Roasted Beets
Recipe by Spend with Pennies
Yield: 4-6 side dish servings
Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
6 fresh beets (or as many as desired)
1 tablespoon olive oil (about 1 tablespoon for every 4-6 beets)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Wash beets under cold water and cut off the top and bottom. Cut beets in half and toss with olive oil, salt & pepper.
- Lay out a large piece of tinfoil, top with a piece of parchment paper. Wrap and seal beets. (Or place beets in a greased baking dish and cover).
- Roast the foil package for 1 hour or until beets are tender when poked with a fork.
- Using rubber gloves or paper towels, rub the beets and the skins will just slide right off.
- Serve warm with butter or chilled in salads.
Roasted Beet Sandwich With Fennel Salad & Feta
Recipe by: Edible Madison
Yield: 4 sandwiches
Time: 40 minutes
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large beets (or 3 medium), peeled and cut into ¼-½-inch slices
1 tsp Kosher salt, divided
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced, divided
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp Kosher salt, divided
1 medium fennel bulb with fronds
2 Tbsp capers, finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
8 slices sourdough bread, toasted
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ pound feta, sliced
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Heat oil in a large cast-iron (or other heavy, oven-proof) skillet over medium heat. Add beets in a single layer, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper; cook for 3 to 4 minutes without moving until beets are seared and browned, but not burnt.
- Gently flip beets and place in a preheated oven. Cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes . Unless your skillet is very large, you will do this in two batches or in two skillets.
- Meanwhile, prepare your fennel salad. Mince half the red onion and combine with lime juice and remaining ½ teaspoon Kosher salt in a medium bowl.
- Separate the fennel fronds and bulb. Finely chop about half the fronds (you want ¼ -½ cup total). Core and thinly slice bulb. Toss the fronds, bulb, remaining sliced onion, capers and olive oil with the onion-lime mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and toss once more.
- Spread mayonnaise on half the pieces of toast. On the other half, equally divide the feta slices onto the bread. Top feta with sliced beets and pile on the fennel salad. Top sandwiches with mayo toast.