Is the beet a rather humble root vegetable? Perhaps. Is it destined to be forgotten in a fast-moving culinary world of exciting new ingredients and shiny, modern recipes? Not at all. In fact, these marvelously colored vegetables are enjoying something of a resurgence and are now a more on-trend food than they ever were (via The Herald). Even back in 2016, an article in the Los Angeles Times heralded the rise of beets as a superfood beloved by top athletes, with powders used as a nutritional dietary supplement and chefs creating beetroot dishes galore.
Beets, which are also called garden beets, beetroots, and red beets are root vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of dishes such as a roasted beet salad. They are truly a versatile ingredient. There are many health benefits associated with them as well. Beetroots contain nitrates which are converted into nitrate oxide by the body. Studies suggest that this compound can lower blood pressure by relaxing the arteries and dilating blood vessels. Beetroots are also rich in fiber, antioxidizing vitamin C, and folate for healthy cell function. Beets are low in calories, have a low glycemic load which makes them less impactful on blood sugar, and are purported to be good for cardiovascular health (via Healthline).
If you want to take advantage of beets’ many benefits, we can help. It’s time you explored the 10 best beetroot hacks everyone should try.
Enjoy easy stain-free beetroot prep
Purple, beetroot-stained hands can take ages to clean, and the color can get everywhere. There’s no doubt that prepping fresh beets can be messy, but there are some tips that can make the process easier. You may use a vegetable peeler to gently remove the skin from raw beets. A paring knife can be helpful for tougher patches of skin. You can wear gloves while peeling boiled beets with your hands, thus avoiding stains. Instead of gloves, you could also use a paper towel.
One great hack for peeling boiled beets with less staining is to put them into a bowl of cold water and peel them underwater (via Masterclass). You can also peel uncooked beets this way too, which blogger Helen Lehndorf suggests doing by putting the beetroots in a bowl of warm water and using a peeler to peel off the skins as they’re submerged. If any beet juice does get on your hands, rubbing your skin with lemon juice for a few seconds before rinsing can remove the color. If you’ve got stains on your chopping board then scrubbing it with salt prior to rinsing in soapy water can get rid of these.
Stop beets from ‘bleeding’ when you cook them
While you can cook beets in a number of ways and eat them in so many different dishes, a common problem when you’re cooking them is "bleeding." This is when the color seeps out, and it can really affect the look of a dish. In addition to this, the pigment that bleeds out of beets is filled with beneficial nutrients, so it’s best to try to retain as much of it as possible. This pigment is called betacyanin and is soluble in water, so it easily runs out when you boil beets. Leave your beets whole when cooking and leave the root intact to stop the bleeding. Beets bleed less when cooked with less contact with liquid and with less heat exposure. Try quickly steaming your beets for 15 minutes (via WH Foods).
You can also brighten up the color of beets with lemon juice, while baking soda or an alkaline element deepens the purple color. Even if you’re going to eat your beets raw, perhaps in a salad, it’s important to store them well. Take off the leaves to stop moisture from leaving the root, and don’t rinse the uncooked beets for storage. You also want to keep at least a 2-inch root in place to stop any color leakage. Store in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks in a plastic bag that’s tightly closed with as little air in there as possible.
Bring out the sweetness
Bringing out the sweetness of carbohydrate-rich beetroots is a wonderful way to enjoy them. The great news about these vegetables is that they’re non-starchy, unlike potatoes, which means they have a low impact on blood sugar (via SFGate). The best way to bring out the sweet flavor of beets is to roast them so that they become soft without becoming spongy. A roasted beet hack from celebrity chef Tom Colicchio highlighted in an article in Food52 is to roast beets in foil packets to lock in their moisture and intensify their sweet flavor.
To follow the roasting hack, trim your beets and scrub them clean. Place on a large enough piece of foil to make a little package, drizzle on olive oil, and season. Fold over the foil and gather the edges so that the beets are encased. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and the skin should just fall off afterward. On an episode of "Top Chef: All Stars L.A." in 2020, the famed chef revealed his love of beets in a challenge combining bitter and sweet flavors. The recipe he created on the show was a roasted beetroot salad with artichokes and radicchio (via Bravo TV).
Turn a winter soup into a cold borscht for summer
If you’ve always thought of borscht as one of those hearty, hot soups that’ll guard against brutal winters and warm you up against the cold, you’re right: This Eastern European classic is popular in Russia and Poland where it’s a traditional dish during the wintery festive season. It has its origins in Ukraine (via 196Flavors). However, a great hack for this beetroot broth from Lifehacker is to make a cold version for summer.
With its vibrant color and delicious taste, this has to be one of the best dishes for a hot day, and not only that, you can make it really quickly and easily and have it on hand in your refrigerator for when you want a nourishing, chilled soup. Cold borscht is also called chlodnik, and to make it cook around 1-2 pounds of beets, peel them, and then dice or grate them. Cover these beets with the liquid they were cooked in and season with salt, sugar, and vinegar or lemon juice. You want to achieve a pickled beetroot flavor. Chill in the refrigerator overnight and your cold borscht is ready. Serve with chopped-up dill, cucumbers, and green onions, with a spoonful of sour cream on top and some black pepper. You can also add halved, hard-boiled eggs.
Give your skin a rosy beetroot-inspired glow
There’s nothing that gives the impression of a youthful glow than gorgeously rosy cheeks. With its dynamic purple coloring, beet pigment can be a great natural way to give the skin a pink hue, while the nutrients in the vegetable mean that it’s also great for all skin types as well as being good for your skin in general. Turn this beautiful vegetable into your very own beauty product with some simple hacks revealed by Femina that you can easily do at home. It’s also an affordable way to pamper yourself too.
Grate beetroot, mix in with sugar, and voila, you’ve got an instant scrub. Rub it around your cheeks for a minute, boosting the circulation, and leave it on the skin for the same amount of time. Rinse off and you’ll be left with a rosier complexion. You can also exfoliate your lips with a scrub by mixing beetroot juice with sugar and some drops of jojoba oil. Create a beetroot tint by mixing almond oil with beetroot powder and giving your lips, cheeks, and eyelids a blush coloring without any additives or chemicals.
Dye your hair red with beets
While you may appreciate the talents of a salon hairstylist, getting your hair professionally dyed can be expensive, not to mention time-consuming and often difficult for you to fit into a busy schedule. There’s also the issue of allergies and skin reactions to dyes that are on the market as well. With so many hacks out there that offer alternative beauty solutions, it might be worth taking a look at the coloring potential of beetroots. There’s more to gorgeously purple beets than being a healthy vegetable. They can also be used as a natural dye for your locks, according to Beauty Glimpse, at least if you want to be a redhead.
You can combine beet juice with coconut oil to dye your hair, while carrot juice and sugar can boost the color. The combination of beet, ginger, and olive oil is good for the scalp, while rose water and black tea can help maintain your dyed hair for longer. You can even add beet juice to a mild herbal shampoo, which can be used regularly. Regulate your hair color by using less or more of the beet juice. Beetroot’s also good for giving your tresses a super shine.
Make your own beetroot powder
Beetroot powder, made from, you guessed it, powdered beets, is gaining traction as a natural superfood product, according to WebMD. You can add it to plenty of recipes from sauces to baked dishes, and you can also sprinkle it over oatmeal or use it to make drinks such as smoothies. As well as being nutritious, beets add great color to dishes and a wonderfully earthy flavor. Add beet powder to water to make beetroot juice, which studies suggest could be good for your blood sugar. Beet juice is a good source of iron, potassium, and calcium, as well as magnesium. Since it’s so popular, you may want to give making your own beet powder a go.
While traditionally, beets were dried in the sun, the oven is easier and quicker. Grate uncooked beetroot on a lined baking tray and bake in an oven at 350 F for 15-18 minutes. Stir at just after the halfway point so you get good all-over drying. Turn off the oven, open the door, and leave the tray inside for another 20 minutes. Grind your dried beets finely to make your beetroot powder. Store this in an airtight glass jar and use it when you need to. You don’t have to store it in the refrigerator (via From Bowl to Soul).
Oven-baked beet chips are super craveable
No matter how healthy your diet might be, there’s no doubt that you sometimes want the instant gratification that comes from munching on some crispy chips. A great hack is to ditch starchy potatoes and the deep-fryer and switch up this tasty treat by making chips in the oven from beetroot instead. Served with sea salt and chives, the deliciously crunchy, sweet baked beet chips by Simply Beyond Herbs are a must and easy to do yourself.
Try out this recipe with everyday beets, sweet Chioggia beets from Italy, and milder-tasting golden beets. A combination of beets creates a colorful array of chips too. Cut washed, unpeeled beets into slices either by hand or, for thinner chips, using a mandoline. A good tip is to wait a little before baking thick chips so that some of the moisture comes out. Next, lay out the beetroot slices on a lined baking tray, brush each chip with olive oil on both sides, and sprinkle with sea salt and chives. The beets should cook in the oven in about 15 minutes, but it depends on the thickness, so check as they crisp up. Once done, you can store your chips for a couple of weeks. Another baked beetroot alternative is to cut the vegetable into wedges instead, while basil, cilantro, and sage also work well to enhance the flavor.
Liven up homemade lemonade with beets
Nothing is better on a hot day than the taste of homemade lemonade, right? Well, you can add a fun twist to this soft drink classic by making and adding your own beetroot concentrate. Of course, since beets are packed full of vitamins, you’re also powering up the nutrition of this thirst-quencher too.
Melt sugar and water together in a pan to make simple syrup. While you’re doing this, juice your citrus. Add a peeled and chopped beet into a blender along with 2 tablespoons of water. You can strain this beetroot pulp so that you end up with juice. Mix the beet juice with the citrus juice and syrup in a pitcher. Add some ice cubes and your beet lemonade’s ready to serve. You can use a juicer for this Healing Tomato recipe, which is quicker than using a strainer, and a great tip is to use limes as well as lemons to add different levels of tanginess.
Beets transform chocolate cake
Just when you think you know what to do with beetroot, along comes a recipe idea that’s totally and utterly different. Eco-chef Tom Hunt, who’s on a mission to create planet-friendly cuisine, transforms beets into a delicious chocolate cake. This pairing may not seem immediately obvious, but the chef believes that bittersweet chocolate complements the sweet, earthy flavor of beetroot.
First cooked at a sustainability event, this cake can be decorated with beet skin powder as well as candied stalks. Blend boiled beets into a puree. Whisk eggs and sugar together, then melt chocolate with butter in a bain-marie. Add the beetroot to the chocolate mixture, then fold in the egg mix. Bake at 325 Fahrenheit in a lined cake tin set in a larger baking dish with boiling water. The cake’s easier to cut once it’s cooled down. Serve in wedges with creme fraiche (via The Guardian). Beetroot never tasted so good!