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Raw Beet Salad

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Beet root salad

A great beet salad for summer: shred raw beets and toss with a vinaigrette and lots of chopped parsley.

Flavor. The sweet flavor of a beet’s root is affected by the speed of the plant’s growth. Beets that are allowed to mature more slowly in cooler soil and weather will be sweeter than those that rush to maturity as the summer and soil grow warmer and warmer.

Choose. What should you look for when choosing beets? The root should be smooth and firm. The leaves or tops (which can be served raw as a salad green) should look fresh. Small beets will be young and tender. Large, mature beets can be tough and have a woody texture. Whatever the size, avoid beet roots that are soft and flabby or rough and shriveled.

Tasty round, red beets include Crosby’s Egyptian (an old favorite), Early Wonder, Ruby Queen and Little Ball. Perhaps more tasty but long rooted is a variety called Cylindra, which is also long keeping. If you are looking for both root and greens, try Lutz Green Leaf. And if you are a beet contrarian, choose golden rooted beets. Their taste is sweeter and more delicate than any red beet you are likely to try.

A nice beet salad for summer: shred raw beets and toss with a vinaigrette and lots of chopped parsley.

Cook. Beets cook best in their skin. At the end of cooking (about 30 to 40 minutes in boiling water) the skins will slip off easily. For a simple serving of hot beets, add a little butter, lemon juice and seasoning.

Store. As for storage, beets will keep in the refrigerator for one to three weeks; beet greens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.

A whole raw beet (about 5.7 oz) contains 70 calories, a trace of fat, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 126 mg of sodium and 530 mg of postassium. A whole cooked beet contains 44 calories.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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