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Beets are well known for their sweet, earthy flavor and vibrant colors.
If you enjoy the root vegetable but haven’t cooked with it much yourself, you might be wondering about the best ways to cut and prepare beets at home.
Cooking with beets doesn’t need to be intimidating. In fact, you can prepare and use them much like you would other root veggies, like carrots and potatoes.
Plus, beets — both the roots and the attached leaves — are very nutritious and a great addition to a healthy diet.
Read these tips for the best ways to cut and use beets. You can incorporate more beets into your diet, expand your repertoire, and get more comfortable preparing them at home.
Before you get started
To safely cut beets at home, it’s essential to have a properly sharpened knife and a secure cutting board to work on.
A dull knife is more likely to slip out of your hand and cause injury. They can be especially challenging for cutting large, tough root vegetables, like beets.
A classic chef’s knife works well for cutting larger beets, while a paring knife might do the trick for smaller sized beets.
To cut whole, raw beets, use the following steps:
- Thoroughly wash the beet root to remove any dirt. A rough sponge or veggie scrubber helps remove dirt trapped in the crevices of the peel.
- To remove the taproot and stems, slice a small piece about 1/2 inch in thickness off each end of the beet. This also creates a flat surface on each end of the beet root.
- Use one of the flat surfaces to stabilize the beet on your cutting board as you cut the rest of the root into your desired shape and size.
From this point, the best way to finish cutting your beet depends on how you plan to use it.
Uses for beets
Here are some suggestions for the most common uses of beets:
- Roasting and soups: Dicing works well for each of these types of recipes. First cut your whole beet into slices of your desired thickness. Next, cut each slice vertically and then across diagonally to create cubes.
- Salads: Diced and sliced beets are perfect for salads. Or, for a smaller cut, you can try shredding them with a grater or food processor.
- Beet chips: Slice the entire beet as thinly as you can. Try to be consistent with the thickness of your slices so your beets will cook evenly.
- Pickled beets: Pickled beets can be diced, sliced, or even cut into a thin matchstick shape. You can decide how to cut them based on your preference and how you plan to use them. Be aware that pickled beets usually contain added sugar.
- Beet juice and smoothies: How you cut them beforehand depends on your blender or juicer. It’s best to read the instruction manual. You may need to cut your beets finer to make beet juice or smoothies with a smaller appliance.
Are there other options besides cutting raw beets?
If you aren’t comfortable cutting raw beets, or if you don’t have the space and tools available to do it safely, the good news is there are other options that are just as delicious and nutritious.
Since they turn tender and soft during the cooking process, you might find that you prefer cutting beets after they’ve already been cooked.
Beets are also available in a number of other forms aside from fresh.
For example, grocery stores often stock presliced or diced beets in the canned and frozen sections.
Some stores even carry precooked beets that are vacuum-sealed to maintain freshness. They’re usually located in the refrigerated produce section. Though they’re usually still whole, you’ll find these cooked beets easier to cut than raw ones.
Having a sharp knife and sturdy cutting board are essential to safely cutting beets. After you’ve thoroughly washed the root, you can slice, dice, shred, or julienne cut beets depending on how you plan to use them.
Whether you peel beets before cutting them is a matter of personal preference.
You might prefer the texture and appearance of peeled beets or may be worried about dirt that is trapped in the skin of the root.
If you decide you do want to peel your fresh beets, you can do so either before or after cooking them.
To peel beets before you cook them, a sharp vegetable peeler works best to remove the peel without sacrificing too much of the interior. If you’ve already cooked beets, you can simply rub the beet between your fingers. The skin tends to come off easily on its own.
On the other hand, one reason you might decide to leave beet skin intact has to do with its nutritional value.
Many of the compounds that contribute to the vegetable’s health-promoting properties are concentrated in the peel. These are a group of pigments called betalains.
Therefore, when you remove the beet peel, you may be eliminating some of the food’s most powerful nutrients from your meal (
Peeling beets is optional. You can peel beets for appearance and to remove dirt and blemishes from the exterior. However, be aware that the skin is a potent source of healthy nutrients, so you’ll remove some of these by peeling.
The powerful pigments responsible for some of the health benefits of beets are also capable of staining hands, clothes, cutting boards, tabletops, and more.
The best way to keep beets from staining your clothes is to wear an apron while you’re cutting them. Donning a pair of reusable, foodsafe gloves will keep the pigments off your hands.
If you prefer to cut produce using bare hands, wash your hands immediately after cutting beets before the pigments have time to set in. You can also try washing them a small bit of lemon juice or baking soda.
If you get beet juice on your clothes, immediately blot off as much of the liquid as possible using a towel, then quickly run the garment under cold water. If the stain persists, an oxygen-based stain remover usually does the trick to remove beet juice.
To keep beets from staining your countertops, always use a cutting board. If your cutting board has absorbed some of the colors from the beets, wash it immediately after you’ve finished cutting the beets and try rubbing a bit of salt over the stains to help release them.
Beets contain powerful color pigments that can stain hands, clothes, and more. If you get beet juice on yourself or something else in your kitchen, wash it as quickly as possible to keep the stains from setting in.
There are so many delicious ways to incorporate beets into your diet. They’re usually eaten cooked, but some people also eat them raw, such as grated into a salad or juiced.
Some of our favorite ways to enjoy beets are:
Beets are wonderful on their own or when incorporated into soups, salads, smoothies, and more.
Beets are a nutritious root vegetable that you can eat in soups, salads, smoothies, and many other dishes.
To safely cut beets at home, remember that a sharp knife and cutting board are essential.
Also keep in mind that the color pigments in beets can stain. Be prepared to quickly wash anything the beets touch to minimize staining.
Depending on how you plan to use a beet, you can easily slice, dice, or even shred the root veggie for your purpose.
Just one thing
Try this today: Explore the many ways to prepare beets with one of these must-try recipes.