Have more beets than you could possibly eat right now? Freeze some of your excess to enjoy later in the year. Here's how to do it well, and with minimum mess.
What You Need
- A cutting board
- A knife
- A large pot
- Gloves (optional, but a good idea)
How to Prep Your Beets for Freezing
- Choose bright red, young beets that are tender, but not soft. Then, sort them by size — make one pile for small beets and one for medium. Each size requires a different cooking time. Tip: If you buy your beets, rather than growing them yourself, save time by choosing beets that are all about the same size. This will allow you to cook them all at once.
- Cut off the leaves a half inch from the top of each beet, and set them aside (they're edible, so don't throw them away). Do not cut off the roots just yet — leaving a bit of the top and the roots in place will prevent the beets from bleeding when you cook them.
- Give the beets a thorough scrub to remove any dirt.
- Then, fill a pot with water; add the beets, and bring the pot to a boil. Cook small beets for 25 to 30 minutes; cook large beets for 45 to 50 minutes. Your beets are done when you can easily pierce them with a fork.
- Transfer your cooked beets to an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process. Allow them to sit there for a few minutes, so they have a chance to cool down.
- When your beets are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins (they should slide right off). Then, cut off the rest of the tops and the roots.
- Slice or chop the beets up; then, spread them out on a cookie sheet, and flash freeze them. This will prevent the beets from freezing together in clumps.
- Once your beets are fully frozen, package them in freezer bags; and return them to the freezer. They'll keep indefinitely, but are best when used within a year. Since beets have a high water content, you may want to consider vacuum sealing them. This will help to prevent freezer burn. If you don't have a vacuum sealer, just do your best to remove all the excess air from your freezer bag, and seal them tight.
Tips for Preparing and Storing Beets
- If you aren't sure how you're going to use your beets just yet, go with slices. You can always cut the slices up into chunks later.
- Consider wearing a pair of disposable gloves, while you're working with your beets. The juices will stain your fingers bright pink. The same is true for your kitchen counter and floor, so try to be neat as you work. If you need to remove stains from your cutting board or counters, a bleach-water solution works wonders on surfaces that are bleach-safe. Of course, it's usually easier to just avoid using your favorite kitchen equipment when you're working with beets.
- Use your beet leaves to make a salad, or sautee them with a little olive oil and garlic, and enjoy them as greens. You can use them in all the same ways that you'd use kale or swiss chard. Just be sure to wash the leaves well, so they don't come across as gritty. If the crunchiness of the stems doesn't work in your dish, just cut them out.
- If you can't cook and freeze your beets right away, cut off the greens, and store them separately. If you leave the greens attached, they'll cause the beets to go bad faster. Your beets should keep for at least a week in the fridge (and will likely last much longer).
- As far as veggies and fruits, find out what else is in season each month, to help you make the most of the growing season.