Beets are popular root vegetables, both for their gorgeous color and great taste, and as a high source of vitamins. Beets are usually harvested when they reach a size somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball. This is when beets are most tender. Once a beet grows over 3 inches in diameter, the texture becomes much more fibrous and certainly less enjoyable.
Beets are one of those powerhouse vegetables that are high in nutrition, both in the root itself and the beet greens, or leaves. Beet roots are rich in antioxidants, high in potassium, folic acid, and calcium. Beets also contain other minerals and vitamins such as iodine, B1 and B2 and Vitamin C. The beet greens are even more nutritious than the root and are certainly worth eating instead of throwing away. Beet greens are richer in calcium and potassium, and are an excellent source of iron.
To preserve this nutritious vegetable into the winter months, one simple method is to freeze both the roots and the green. To freeze beets and beet greens, you will need either can-or-freeze Mason style canning jars, Ziploc or Glad freezer bags, or plastic freezer containers.
How to freeze the beet roots
To freeze beet roots, select only those beets that are tender and uniformly red through out.
1. Trim off the stem, leaving a 2 inch stalk and the tap root. Wash thoroughly.
2. Cook until the beet is tender, about 40-50 minutes. Let cool.
3. Slip the skins off the beet, remove the tap root and the stem.
4. The beets can then be packed whole in the freezer container, or quartered, cubed, or sliced. Do not add the beet water to the freezer package.
5. Seal the container, label and freeze immediately. Beets frozen in this method will last up to 12 months in the freezer.
How to freeze the beet greens
To freeze beet greens, select only those leaves that are tender and free of blemishes or areas of decay.
1. Wash the green thoroughly, checking for bugs and trimming off woody stems.
2. Place in a metal colander and dip into boiling water for two minutes.
3. Remove from the boiling water and plunge into ice cold water. This process is known as “blanching” and will stop the enzymes that cause vegetables to change their shape, texture, and vitamin content while in the freezer.
4. Drain thoroughly.
5. Pack the beet greens in a freezer container leaving about one inch of air, called “head space’. Head space gives the food room to expand as it freezing, and prevent the containers from bursting under the pressure.
6. Tightly seal the container, label and freeze immediately. Beet greens will also keep in the freezer for up to 12 months.
University of Idaho Ada County Extension Office
The Ball Blue Book of Preserving, published by Jarden home brands