What's In Season: Beets!
Eating seasonally is a wonderful way to stay connected to nature and our local environment. Vegetables grown and harvested in peak months produce better tasting food and also provide us with many health benefits like vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants. This brings us to beets, which are currently in season in Central Texas. Unfortunately, beets are often unfairly characterized as ‘dirt-like,’ even provoking in some looks of disgust and flat out refusals. However! Beets are a prime example of food that is truly exceptional when grown and harvested in season.
photo courtesy of Love and Lemons
Soil temperatures are currently low, resulting in a phenomenon known as cold sweetening. When some veggies (think: broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes) reach lower temperatures, they convert their energy stores into ‘free’ sugars, such as glucose and fructose. This activated sugar content both makes the vegetable less susceptible to freeze damage, and makes them delicious and incredibly sweet. Science! So, if you have been intimidated in the past by the pronounced earthiness of beets, now is the time to try them when they are nearly candy-like. Experiment with them roasted, pureed into a hearty winter soup, or sliced raw for a bright and citrus-y salad. Use a combination of golden, red, and Chioggia beets for a rainbow of color!
Shown here: Eliana Dinner Plate
You can find beets at your local grocery store, but we recommend heading to a farmer’s market nearby and connecting directly with your food producers. A favorite in Austin is the Sustainable Food Center’s Downtown Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Here are some choice recipes, from accessible to a bit more ambitious: