What’s the best way to eat beets? Not a very popular vegetable; but there are several ways to cook beets that make them surprisingly scrumptious. I have a few fresh beets growing in my garden this winter. I’m using them in a very simple and healthy recipe for pickled beets and ginger. The ginger adds a pungent surprise to this dish.
Who likes beets? I never cared for beets when growing up. I found it to be a distasteful chore to eat the beets–but nothing was ever left on our plates. That often meant sitting at the table for a long time to get up the courage to eat the beets. But we just ate the beets boiled; recipes for pickled or marinated beets gives another life to this vegetable. This recipe uses plain vinegar. Another great taste is to use orange juice in the marinade.
Do beets grow in a Louisiana garden?
Beets are known botanically as Beta vulgarisone. They are in the same family of vegetables as Swiss chard, spinach and quinoa. The beet is one of the vegetables that I’ve been successful at growing in my garden. I planted the the young seedlings in the fall; they grew all winter. My beets didn’t become very large in size; but they were delicious. Don’t know if it is the variety or if they were just really fresh; but the beets from my garden tasted much better than canned beets. They survived the freezing temperatures, too.Here is my crop of beets. Yes, it’s a small crop. I’m learning and next fall I’ll plant quite a few more beets. In addition to the beet roots, the greens can be cooked, too.
Nutritional Value of beets. The bright red color in beets is a rich source of phytonutrients called betalains. This phytonutrient has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which are of interest in detoxification, cancer prevention and cardiovascular health. The pigment is water soluble, so don’t steam beets longer that 15 minutes.
Nutritionally beet roots provide fiber, B-complex vitamins, and minerals such as potassium, iron, manganese, copper and magnesium.
The downside of consumption of large amounts of beets is beeturia, a harmless passing of red or pink color urine after eating beets and greens in some people. Beet greens contain oxalic acid which can crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract in susceptible people.Here is a pound of small beets from the market. Sugar beets, a different variety from garden beets, are used commercially to produce table sugar. Extraction of sugar from these beets was developed in the 1700’s in Prussia. In the United States, genetically modified sugar beets have been developed–that’s another blog post.
The surprise ingredient in this recipe is fresh ginger which is cut into thin slices. The recipe is from my mother-in-law. She likes to peel and thinly slice the ginger crosswise–about the size of a thumbnail–then eats the fresh pieces along with the pickled beets. If you love ginger, this recipe is for you.
Ginger is one of those herbs from ancient times and was often used in folk medicine with several medicinal properties. It originated in the Indian subcontinent of Asia and made its way to Rome with the spice trade.Ginger is a member of the Zingiberaceae family, along with turmeric and cardamom. It grows as a perennial. The plants die back in the winter, but shoot up each spring to about 3 to 5 feet tall with narrow green leaves and beautiful fragrant white flowers. In our part of the country, ginger is used as a landscape plant and I have several varieties growing in my yard. I doubt that this the edible variety; I don’t want to pull up the plants anyway.
Ginger can be used fresh or dried. The fresh rhizomes or roots have a slightly different taste than the dried powdered ginger. The pungent spice is used extensively in cuisines all around the world, too long to list in this post.
Health properties. Ginger has several medicinal properties including treating nausea due to morning sickness, chemotherapy and seasickness. It is also used to treat gastric motility problems and dyspepsia and it is used to treat arthritic pain.
However, be aware that there are side effects and herb-drug interactions before you blissfully begin consuming ginger in large quantities as a medicine. Ginger interacts with the anticoagulant, warfarin, to change bleeding times and it also interacts with the cardiovascular drug nifedipine. Ginger may have side effects; for example, it can result in gas, bloating and heartburn–especially in those with gallstones. There was I time when I had to stop eating ginger for this reason.
Research on ginger. US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is a branch of the National Institute of Health in the US. Dept of Health and Human Services. NCCIH is a wonderful clearinghouse for the latest research being done on the medical properties of herbs — including ginger. Their research listings are very extensive and there are many interesting and promising studies being conducted on ginger.
Making the Recipe
Select small beets. Scrub, peel and steam beets up to for 15 minutes until tender. If using large beets, quarter them prior to steaming.
Weight down with a plate to submerge the beets. Refrigerate and pickle in the brine for several hours to overnight. When ready to serve, remove the beets, ginger and some of the onions to individual serving plates. If you finish all the beets and ginger before the onions, just replenish the beets and ginger in the brine!
Simply Pickled Beets and Ginger by MayleesKitchen
- 2 lb small, fresh beets (about 8 beets)
- 1 large white onion
- 1/3 cup ginger (about 2 oz ginger)
- 2 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
Method and Steps
- Scrub, wash and peel the beets, cut off the beet tops (use in another recipe) and tap roots. If using large beets, quarter first.
- Bring a cup of water to a boil in a large pot. Add beets, reduce temperature to medium-low, cover tightly and steam for 15 minutes.
- Remove beets from water, drain.
- Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice white onion. Set aside.
- Peel and slice the ginger crosswise in thin pieces about the size of a thumbnail. Set aside.
- Add the vinegar and brown sugar to a large non-metallic bowl and stir to combine the brown sugar.
- Add in the sliced onion and ginger. Slice the beets crosswise and add to pickling brine. Weight down with a plate and refrigerate for several hours to overnight.
- When ready to serve, remove beets, ginger and onions to individual plates.
- If you eat all the beets and ginger first, replenish the brine and onions with more fresh steamed beets and ginger slices.
Beetroot, Wikipedia. //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beetroot
Beets. The Worlds Healthiest Foods. The George Mateljan Foundation //www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49
Beet Nutrition Facts. //www.nutrition-and-you.com/beets.html © copyright 2009-15 By Umesh Rudrappa.
Ginger. Wikipedia. //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginger
Ginger, NCCIH ://nccih.nih.gov/health/ginger. NCCIH Publication No.: D320 Created: May 2006 Updated: April 2012