Hippocrates the father of medicine used the leaves of beetroot for binding and dressing wounds, while Talmud(the central text of Rabbinic Judaism) written in 4th and 5th century, advises eating beetroot, among other things, for longer life. Romans on the other hand used beetroots as a laxative or to cure fever.
Recent health studies suggest that beetroot can help lower blood pressure, boost exercise performance and prevent dementia. This is due to the high content of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
This sweet root vegetable comes in red, pink, orange, yellow, and white varieties, as well as a range of sizes. Both the leafy stalk and the bulbous root are edible. You can have them raw, boiled or roasted.
How to buy the best of them
Beetroots can be found almost every season during the year. I personally like spring beetroots better. I find them more sweet and tender.
If you want to buy fresh beetroots check on their leaves and bulbs. The leaves should have that characteristic dark green color and the bulbs should be smooth and fresh looking. Since beetroots grow in the soil, they can absorb not only the valuable nutrients to grow, but also pesticides or other elements that are harmful for the body. So it is important for you to know where they come from.
How to store them
For short-term storage: give the leaves and roots a good washing. Make sure to completely dry before putting in refrigerator. Remove the greens, by leaving about 2 inches of stem attached to the root, so that bleeding does not occur (for red or pink beets). Place in Ziploc bags and refrigerate. Beet greens will last 2 to 5 days after purchase and the bulbs at least 2 to 3 weeks.
For long-term storage: freeze the beets. Wash them, remove stems leaving about 2 inches of the stem to prevent any bleeding, boil them until you should be able to press into the beet with a fork, cool them in the refrigerator, then remove skins and cut in slices, diced or desired shape. Place beets in freezer bags and label with the month and year. With this type of storage technique, beets can last up to 8 to 12 months. Do not forget to wear gloves while removing the skin and to use a dark plastic cutting boards to avoid staining.
How to use them
Enjoy your fresh beetroots raw, boiled or roasted. In each case cut off the leaves and wash them with the bulbs thoroughly.
If you want to eat the beetroots raw, then you need to peel their skin with a knife exactly the way you peel a potato.
If you want them boiled, remove the peel after boiling.
To roast them, wrap each beet loosely in aluminum foil and place in the oven for about one hour. Roast until tender and easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife. Remove from the oven, take off the foil and set aside to cool. Then slice off the leaf end and push the skin off using your thumbs. You can take the skin off by using a knife too.