beets

The Fresh Spring Taste of Baby Beets

The Fresh Spring Taste of Baby Beets

By Judy Schultz

As our season of renewal stretches into early summer, we look forward to the first taste of baby beets. Beloved for their robust, earthy flavour, beets are easy to grow, whether round or cylindrical, red or golden, or the beautiful, candy-striped Chioggia. They’re also entirely edible at every stage, from the first tiny thinnings, washed and tossed raw into salads, to the tender, golf-ball sized baby beets that are so tender and naturally sweet. Beets are a forgiving vegetable with a relatively long storage life. Once you have them in the kitchen, clip the tops at about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm). Wash the tops and refrigerate until you need them, up to three days. Beet tops are good in salads or stir fries, and they give an extra edge to a pot of soup. Beet roots can be stored in your fridge for up to two weeks before cooking.

Roasted Beets in Dill Cream

Vegetable markets in Europe have always sold roasted beets. They’re handy for soups, salads or pickles, and once they’re baked, they keep well for three or four days. To roast young beets, clip the tops but do not remove the roots before putting them in the oven, folded snugly in a foil packet. They can be roasted along with any other oven dish, then cooled and refrigerated until you need them.

2 lbs (1 kg) small beets, scrubbed, tops clipped 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) aluminum foil
1 cup (250 mL) sour cream
1/2 cup (125 mL) mayonnaise
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh chopped dillweed
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped chives
salt and pepper

Wrap and seal the scrubbed beets in a double thickness of foil and place in a preheated 400 F oven. Oven-roast for about 50 minutes, or until easily pierced with a skewer. Remove from oven and open the foil. When beets are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off and cut in quarters. Fold together the sour cream, mayonnaise, dillweed and chives. Fold beets into the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve cool, as a salad, or heat gently and serve as a side dish. Serves 4 to 6.

Sweet-and-Sour Baby Beets

My grandmother, who grew everything and wasted nothing, cooked baby beets and tops together. This dish was her version of spring tonic, and I remember the delicious smell when she whipped the lid off the casserole. I make my own version, using balsamic vinegar, and mixing red and gold beets if possible.

2 lbs. baby beets, tops clipped, baked in foil
tops from beets, washed
2 green onions, diced
1 tablespoon (15 mL) liquid honey
1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter
2 tablespoons (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper

Slip peeling off cooled beets. Set aside.
Roughly chop beet tops and place in a buttered 10 inch pie plate or shallow casserole. Cut the cooked beets in 1/2 inch thick slices. Distribute red and yellow beets over the greens and sprinkle with diced green onions.In a small cup, melt honey and butter into balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over sliced beets. Season with salt and pepper, and bake, uncovered, at 350 F for about 25 minutes, or until greens are tender. Serve hot. Serves 4 to 6

Spring Borscht

On the prairies, there are as many recipes for borscht as there are cooks. I like this one for the clear flavour of the beets, heightened by the acid of tomatoes and the secret ingredient — a fresh lemon, including the peel. Note that the beets are not peeled. Do not substitute bottled lemon juice.

5 or 6 young, medium beets (2 lb/1 kg) with tops
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 small red cabbage, diced
4 cups (2 L) seasoned chicken stock
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) diced tomatoes
1 fresh lemon, well scrubbed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) sugar
fresh dillweed
sour cream (optional)

Thoroughly scrub the beets. Clip tops and coarsely chop the washed leaves. Trim toot ends. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, cut raw, unpeeled beets into thin julienne. Reserve.

Coat a Dutch oven with non-stick spray. Over medium heat, saute diced onion, carrot, celery and cabbage. Add julienned beets and stir-fry about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and tomatoes. Cut the well-washed lemon in four quarters. Squeeze the juice into the soup, and add lemon peel. Turn the heat up and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. Add the sugar and a hefty amount of freshly chopped dillweed. Fish out the lemon peel and discard it. Taste the soup and correct the seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold, with a dollop of sour cream. Serves 4 to 6.

Edmonton Frost Warning - What to Harvest, What to Cover, and What to Leave Alone

Edmonton Frost Warning: What to Harvest, What to Cover, and What to Leave Alone

A frost warning is in effect and we've received a lot of phone calls and emails from people asking about what can stay outside and what needs to come in.
Here's our quick guide:

 

  • Apples: A light frost will not affect the apples and may even make them sweeter. Barring a severe September storm, leave your apples on the tree until they are ripe (mid- to late- September for most late bearing apples).

  • Beans and Peas: Will not tolerate frost. Harvest these guys and eat them up!

  • Beets, Carrots, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes: Protected underground, these vegetables do fine in a light frost and their flavour will likely improve with the cold. That said, harvest them before the ground freezes.

  • Chard, Kale, and Cabbage: These plants should all survive a light frost. Cold temperatures will even intensify the colour and flavour of chard, and may sweeten cabbage.

  • Corn: Corn is frost sensitive. If your corn is ready, pick it now. If it is not yet ready to harvest, cross your fingers and hope for the best. A hard frost will reduce the shelf life of corn to 3 to 4 days.

  • Lettuce and Salad Greens: Cold will affect the look and texture of lettuce and salad greens, but they can survive a light frost. If you’d like, harvest the tops of the lettuce and see if they come back afterwards.

  • Strawberries: If they're ready: harvest them, if not: cover them. Frost can affect the texture of the berries.

  • Tomatoes and Peppers: Harvest any ripe tomatoes and all peppers. Unripe tomatoes are bit more complicated. If you’re feeling cautious and would rather not deal with any stress, harvest them all now—ripe or not.

    If your tomatoes are in containers and you’re feeling daring (and if the forecast cooperates), you may be able to get away with moving and covering your tomatoes. Bring the tomato vines close to the house (preferably on the south side of the house) and cover them with some light fabric to protect them from the frost.

    However, if the forecast dips below -2°C, the tomatoes will probably end up covered in frost anyways even with these precautions. Keep an eye on your local temperature, and harvest the unripe tomatoes if necessary. Green tomatoes can be ripened inside on sheets of newspaper.

  • Pumpkins, Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers: Cucumbers, zucchini, and summer varieties of pumpkin and squash should be harvested now, wiped dry, and cured in a hot, dry room for a few days to improve shelf life.

    Properly cured, they may store for a few weeks. Avoid storing these fruits on concrete or metal surfaces as it can cause them to rot.

    Thin skinned cucumbers will not store as well and should be eaten within a few days.

    Some pumpkins and squash are "winter varieties" and can store very well if properly cured. Harvest any mature “winter variety” gourds before a frost (they will have a nice tough skin when mature) and do your best to protect the immature ones by covering them with a sheet. Immature gourds will not ripen off the vine or once the vine has died, so protecting them and hoping for the best is the best strategy. Be careful not to crush the vines.

NuVue_Insulating_winter_garden_blanket_frost_protection_cover.jpg
DeWitt_N-sulate_frost_crop_cover.jpg

For protecting your plants, our best product recommendation is frost protection blankets. NuVue's Insulating Winter Blanket is great for long garden rows as it is already cut at 42 inches by 25 feet.

For square & rectangular gardens, use DeWitt's N-Sulate Frost Protection Blanket which is 12 feet by 10 feet. 

You can also use Crop Cover Fabric to protect sensitive plants. While lighter weight, Crop Cover Fabric protects against insects, freezing rain, frost and snow damage, while allowing air and moisture to reach the crop.

Frost Warning: What to Harvest, What to Cover, and What to Leave Alone

One of our customers woke up to this today! Did you get snow in your area?

One of our customers woke up to this today! Did you get snow in your area?

A frost warning is in effect and we've received a lot of phone calls from people asking about what can stay outside and what needs to come in. Here's our quick guide:

  • Apples: A light frost will not affect the apples and may even make them sweeter. Barring a severe September storm, leave your apples on the tree until they are ripe (mid- to late- September for most late bearing apples).
     
  • Beans and Peas: Will not tolerate frost. Harvest these guys and eat them up!
     
  • Beets, Carrots, Onions, Potatoes: Protected underground, these vegetables do fine in a light frost and their flavour may even improve with the cold. That said, harvest them before the ground freezes. 
     
  • Chard, Kale, and Cabbage: These plants should all survive a light frost. Cold temperatures will even intensify the colour and flavour of chard, and may sweeten cabbage.
     
  • Corn: Corn is frost sensitive. If your corn is ready, pick it now. If it is not yet ready to harvest, cross your fingers and hope for the best. A hard frost will reduce the shelf life of corn to 3 to 4 days.
     
  • Lettuce and Salad Greens: Cold will affect the look and texture of lettuce and salad greens, but they can survive a light frost. If you’d like, harvest the tops of the lettuce and see if they come back afterwards.
     
  • Tomatoes and Peppers: Harvest any ripe tomatoes and all peppers. Unripe tomatoes are bit more complicated. If you’re feeling cautious and would rather not deal with any stress, harvest them all now—ripe or not.

    If you’re feeling daring and if the forecast cooperates for the next day or two, you may be able to get away with bringing the tomato vines close to the house (preferably on the south side of the house) and covering them with some light bed sheets to protect them from the frost.

    However, if the forecast dips below -2°C, the tomatoes will probably end up covered in frost anyways even with these precautions. Keep an eye on your local temperature, and harvest the unripe tomatoes if necessary. Green tomatoes can be ripened inside on sheets of newspaper.
     
  • Pumpkins, Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers: Cucumbers, zucchini, and summer varieties of pumpkin and squash should be harvested now, wiped dry, and cured in a hot, dry room for a few days to improve shelf life.

    Properly cured, they may store for a few weeks. Avoid storing these fruits on concrete or metal surfaces as it can cause them to rot.

    Thin skinned cucumbers will not store as well and should be eaten within a few days.

    Some pumpkins and squash are "winter varieties" and can store very well if properly cured. Harvest any mature “winter variety”  gourds before a frost (they will have a nice tough skin when mature) and do your best to protect the immature ones by covering them with a sheet. Immature gourds will not ripen off the vine or once the vine has died, so protecting them and hoping for the best is the best strategy. Be careful not to crush the vines.