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I *heart* beets! They’re delicious, nutritious, easy to grow, and oh so colorful. If you’ve never tasted a homegrown beet roasted in olive oil and a dusting of sea salt, then you’ve never really tasted a beet. Their rustic, earthy flavor is a special delight during the winter months, when few other crops can still be harvested from the garden. I love heading out to my veggie patch on a cold January day, pulling a plump root from the soil, brushing off the dirt, and taking it straight into the kitchen for roasting. I’m especially fond of unusual beets – you know, the ones you don’t see everyday.
Related post: Root crop harvest
I’d like to introduce you to the three unique beets I used to make the heart in the feature photo. While I always grow traditional red beet varieties, like ‘Detroit Dark Red’ and ‘Red Ace’, I also like to grow different colors and shapes, too.
These are three of my favorite beets:
‘Golden’ – An 1800’s introduction from the W. Atlee Burpee seed company, ‘Golden’ has rotund, yellow roots encased in brilliant orange skin. It’s a gourmet favorite, with buttery, sweet-flavored roots. But, the seeds don’t always germinate reliably, so I always plant extra seeds of this unusual beet, just in case. The skins slip off easily after they’re cooked, so you don’t have to worry about peeling them first.
‘Chioggia’ – This pre-1840s Italian heirloom is another beet worth adoring. Alternating rings of white and rosy pink are found in every slice. Even the green stems have pale pink stripes, which helped ‘Chioggia’ earn the nickname the “candy cane beet.” This variety is great for eating fresh, pickling, and baking because of its sweet, mild flavor. And the beautiful coloration doesn’t disappear, even when the root is cooked.
‘Cylindra’ – This Danish heirloom looks more like a wine-colored carrot than a beet. Its six-inch long, two-inch wide cylindrical root produces uniform, round slices. The easy-to-peel, smooth skin is an added bonus. I find this beet to be the best choice for making pickled red beets because the slices are very uniform in size.
Have you grown any of these varieties? Tell us about your favorite beets in the comment section below.