Bountiful Beets

A good scrub reveals the delicious beauty of the beet.

By Jessica Walliser

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How to grow organic beets.Recommended Beet Varieties

‘Early Wonder Tall Top’. A particularly good variety for greens production, this heirloom selection is very early and has large, green leaves with red mid-ribs. It goes on to form 3-to-4-inch globular roots that are fast growing, even in cool soils.

‘Detroit Dark Red’. An open-pollinated selection from the late 1800s, ‘Detroit Dark Red’ is descended from the now-rare variety ‘Early Blood Turnip’. Its roots grow to 3 inches in diameter and store well. It’s also ideal for canning and roasting.

‘Golden’. An 1800s introduction, ‘Golden’ has yellow-fleshed roots with brilliant orange skin. “It’s a gourmet favorite, with buttery, sweet-flavored roots,” says Coulter. “But the seeds don’t always germinate reliably, so plant extra, just in case. The skins slip off easily after they’re cooked, so you don’t have to worry about peeling them first.”

‘Albino’. This surprising heirloom gem is prized for its snow-white roots. Cooks love it because it doesn’t “bleed” crimson but still has a deliciously sweet beet flavor. To prevent the shoulders of ‘Albino’ and other white-fleshed beets from turning green, hill soil up around the plants to cover any exposed root tops.

‘Bull’s Blood’. With deep scarlet leaves and equally vivid roots, ‘Bull’s Blood’ might not have an enticing name, but it sure has appeal in the kitchen. This heirloom is remarkably sweet and is grown as much for its greens as it is for its roots.

‘Chioggia’. “This pre-1840s Italian heirloom is another of my favorites,” says Coulter. Alternating rings of white and rosy pink are found in every slice, giving ‘Chioggia’ its nickname: the candy-cane beet. Because of its sweet, mild flavor, this variety is great for eating fresh, pickling, and baking, and the beautiful coloration doesn’t disappear when the root is cooked.

‘Cylindra’. This Danish heirloom looks more like a wine-colored carrot than a beet. Jett praises ‘Cylindra’ for its 6-inch-long, 2-inch-wide root and the uniform round slices it produces.

 
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