Beets, with their strong earthy flavor, are an easy root vegetable to grow and can be cooked and frozen for up to 8 months.
Red beets are the most common, but you will likely find other colors in many grocery stores and farmers markets. Besides the yellow-orange golden beets, you might find white beets or multicolored beets. The Chioggia beet is a striped variety, an excellent choice for salads.
Below the instructions, you'll find tips for using beet greens and some additional preparation and cooking tips.
How to Freeze Beets
- Cut the greens from the beets, leaving about 1 to 2 inches of stem.
- Trim the long root ends, leaving about 1 to 2 inches.
- Wash the whole beets and scrub with a vegetable brush.
- Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside.
- Fill a large stockpot with water; bring to a boil.
- If the beets are all of a similar size, put them all in the boiling water at the same time. Otherwise, stagger them according to size. Large beets will take about 1 hour to cook, medium beets, about 45 minutes, and small beets, about 25 minutes.
- When the beets are tender, drain them in a colander and immediately immerse them in the ice-water to stop the cooking.
- When the beets are cool, trim the stems and root ends and slip the skins off. If they don't slip off easily, use a vegetable peeler, but use a light touch. The beet juice should be easy to wash off, but you might want to wear gloves for the preparation steps.
- Slice the beets (about 1/4-inch thickness), cut in quarters, or dice. Leave small (1-inch) beets whole, if desired.
- Pack the beets into freezer containers or heavy-duty freezer bags, label with the name and date, and freeze for up to 8 months.
How to Freeze Roasted Beets
- Follow instructions 1 through 3, above.
- Heat the oven to 400 F (200 C/Gas 6).
- Arrange the beets in a large rimmed baking or roasting pan. Add about 1 cup of water, or to a depth of about 1/2-inch.
- Cover the pan tightly with foil.
- Roast the beets for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size, or until tender. If the sizes are varied, take smaller ones out as they become fork-tender.
- Continue with steps 8 through 10, above.
Tips for Selecting and Using Beets
- Choose fresh beets with their greens attached. If you aren't going to cook them within a day or two, remove the greens, leaving a few inches of the stems attached. Store them loose in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- If the greens are fresh, don't throw them away! Saute or steam the greens like spinach and drizzle with a little vinegar. Or shred them and add them to a salad.
- When freezing vegetables in freezer bags, get as much air out as possible. A vacuum sealer is an excellent investment if you do a lot of freezing. Less air in the bags means less chance of freezer burn and loss of quality.
- If you don't have a vacuum sealing system, use a straw to get most of the air out of the freezer bag. Zip the bag, leaving an opening just large enough to insert a straw. Use a straw to suck out the last of the air, and then remove the straw and quickly seal the bag.
- To keep the beets bright red and reduce "bleeding," add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or vinegar to the cooking water.
- Use a pressure cooker to cook the beets in less time. Follow the instructions for your pressure cooker.