The beet (beta vulgaris) is a plant cultivated primarily for the consumption of its root and leaves, which are considered very nutritious. Most crops have red or purplish-red roots, but can also be yellow, orange, and white. Betaine can also be extracted from the red roots to be made into red dye for foods.
The beet is a very low calorie food with only 40 calories per every 100 grams. The beet contains antioxidants (cartenoids, flavonoids), minerals (zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and iron) and vitamins (A, B-complex and vitamin C).
Beets can be consumed raw, such as grated in salads. If you prefer to eat it cooked, cook it whole with the skin on, and with 5 cm of the stalk, adding two spoonfuls of vinegar in the water to retain its red color.
The beet can kept for up to a week in a cool or shaded place. In the refrigerator, it can be kept for up to 15 days in a perforated plastic bag. For freezing, choose small roots. Cook them until soft, then place them in a container of water and ice until the ice is completed melted. Peel and cut into slices or cubes, and place in a plastic bag. Remove the air with a vacuum pump and close the bag. In the freezer, the beet can be store dup to 8 months. Grated beet should not be frozen because it loses its color and flavor.
When and where to sow?
Beets are biennial plants, normally blooming in the second year, except in periods of low temperatures in winter and a summer with long days.
The beet needs a well-drained soil, deep, light, without stones and other debris, rich in organic matter with a pH between 6-7.5. The soil must be rich in boron so the plants grow better, with fertilizer added as necessary.
How to sow?
Sow at a depth of approximately 1 cm with caution, as the beet seedlings can easily be damaged. The transplanting of the seedlings to the garden can be carried out when they reach approximately 5 cm in height, and the transplant should be done with care so as not to damage the roots of the seedlings.
Seed germination generally takes from one to three weeks depending on environme conditions. The recommended spacing is 30 cm between planting lines and 5 to 10 cm between plants.
How to care?
Remove invasive plants that are competing for resources and nutrients. Do not let the roots get exposed as they will harden. Cover the roots that are exposed with soil or straw.
When to harvest?
Harvesting the beets begins approximately 60-90 days after sowing. Harvesting should not be too late because the roots can become fibrous.
The beet grows best in a mild climate (between 10° C and 24° C). There are varieties that can grow well at higher temperatures, but many crops, especially sugar beets do not grow well in warmer climates. On the other hand, well-developed plants can withstand low temperatures and frost.
Beets get their red color from the presence of betaine.
The beet can be used as an hypoallergenic pigment for lips and cheekbones.
Each hundred grams of beet contains about 50 calories.