Beets: Canned vs Fresh (warning: some gross references inside)

lowsparkApril 13, 2012

I love beets. I always buy canned though. The funny thing is, I hate canned veggies, much prefer fresh or frozen. But canned beets are good.

I wondered though if I was missing out on something not buying fresh so I finally did. I roasted them then peeled them. What a pain!

And the difference in flavor? Negligable. Certainly not worth the trouble in my opinion.

Do you agree or disagree? What am I missing?

Oh, and for the gross part....

The fresh ones gave my poop a pink tinge. Weird, huh?

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I agree. I boil fresh beets, then peel them - the result is very similar to opening a can. When I vinegar them, even more similar. Sometimes I roast them to get nice and blackened, now that is different from the canned - but I suspect I could roast the canned beets too. Boiling is easier than roasting, faster anyway.

The main reason I do the fresh beets is you can get a variety of colors which looks pretty, and the yellow beets don't bleed all over so they can actually be used in a salad with non-beets. And you get the beet greens which are tasty.

I have never noticed if the canned beets do or don't color one's waste product . . .

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 5:25PM
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We love beets & also find the canned are just as good & hassle-free. Also, for some reason, fresh are very expensive in my area & the different colored ones are never available.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 5:46PM
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Way back when my babies were babies, the variety of jarred baby food was much greater than it is now. You could get carrots, green beans, spinach, squash, peas, asparagus and beets. Both asparagus and beets made for some "interesting" diapers

Boiling beets is really not a lot of trouble.....and you can't get raw beets for a salad in a can.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 6:06PM
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It depends on how you use them. For bortsh you need raw beets. For fermenting,you need raw beets. For cold summef beet soup, you need raw beets and greens.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 6:10PM
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Pressure cooking them is fast.

I've never tried canned though - I'm with you, fresh or frozen. I'll try some!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 6:23PM
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I love roasted beets and always roast them, then the peel falls right off.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 8:34PM
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It depends on how long that "fresh" beet has been waiting for me to cook it.

If it's fresh right out of the garden and the greens are going to land right on the plate next to them, it's fresh, hands down. They're sweeter, firmer, I love 'em.

If they are on the grocery store/farmer's market shelf and the green tops are still attached and are fresh and crisp, then fresh wins again.

If they have been stored in cold storage since last October, or even have been sitting around long enough that the greens are compromised and probably removed, then buy the canned ones.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 11:09PM
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IMO, beets are one of a very few veggies that canned are pretty much the same as freshed. Come to think of it... they're NEVER frozen??

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 11:39PM
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I've never seen frozen beets. I love all beets whether roasted, steamed or canned. I'm with you May. The canned are very close in flavor to fresh. The only work involved with canned beets is peeling Spike the cat off my leg when he hears the can opener.

I've grown golden beets for the past 3 years. Love them and no surprises in the bathroom!


    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 12:20AM
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I love pickled beets. My aunt makes up a whack of the baby ones every year, and we get some. Is that what you mean by canned? I never make them to cook as a veggie because they are such a pia, but they are good.

I agree with you on the colourful poop! Right up there with eating corn in the gross factor.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 6:43AM
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Interesting, I never peel beets. I don't peel any root vegetables such as carrots, ginger, radish, parsnip, etc. I peel them if I serve other people.

None of them have thick skin.

Beets can color #1, as well as #2. Not for everyone and not all the time.

It is very easy to grow beets indoors in pots from seeds. The plants are decorative and you can keep cutting the beet greens for cooking.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 7:42AM
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We love beets and I always either had fresh from the garden or store bought fresh. I do find them more work that other veggies so I finally bought some canned ones. They aren't bad and I keep them on hand because they are quick, but still prefer fresh ones and continue to buy them.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 11:36AM
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I like my fresh beets al dente, you can't get that in a can; yellow beets have been available more readily and I love mixing both on a plate as a side dish.
I do eat canned beets though, I am addicted to beets in all forms.

Pickled beets in Quebec are a staple, they have as much shelf space in grocery stores as dill pickles. When I'm in Florida, I find small jars in the exotic food section and I'll buy 8 jars at a time.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 12:43PM
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I try to limit my family's intake of canned food because of BPA. From what I've heard that's been banned in Canada and hopefully we'll follow suit soon.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 2:48PM
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ynnej, I can my own, and that takes care of that problem. I did try freezing beets, but they don't freeze well, either blanched or unblanced, they get kind of mushy and watery, it's a horrible texture.

You do need a pressure canner to can beets, but you can make pickled beets with just a water bath. I opened a homemade jar just before Easter and used the pickling brine to make pickled eggs. It's a family tradition for me, and my mother loves them. And, of course, she eats the pickled beets along with them.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Wow, Annie! Props to you! That's awesome.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 4:59PM
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Had to open the thread to see what was so gross! :-) They turned my pee bright red once! It was utterly terrifying until I figured it out.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 5:37PM
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ynnej, beets are really easy to can, you just wash, either peel or blanch and peel, cut them up and pack them with boiling water and salt. Into the pressure canner they go and the work is done, now you just time them and wait.

Pickled is almost as easy. Peel, leave the small ones whole, cut the big ones. Make a brine, put he beets in jars, add the hot brine, lids, boiling water bath. Easy as can be, really.

As most of my friends here know, I have a big organic garden and can/freeze/pickle/dehydrate everything I grow that we don't eat fresh. I grow grass fed beef and have some chickens that'll be in the freezer in just a couple of months. I think I'm going to get some more laying hens too, I miss my farm fresh eggs.

My DH and I bought the farm I grew up on and we're going to build a house out there with a root cellar, so I can store beets all winter without canning them. Oh yeah.....

I've been doing it my whole life, so I was an adult before I realized that everyone didn't garden and can.

Many of us here do home canning. Chase/Sharon has great dill pickles, Readinglady is my preserves and bread guru, Grainlady does a lot of dehydrating, plus grinds her own grains for flour. LindaC makes awesome crabapple jelly and I'm "famous" for my salsa. Search for "Annie's Salsa" and you'll get a lot of threads. Wizardnm/Nancy makes the best apple maple jam I've ever had. Nancy/nancedar makes preserves and sells them at the farm market and sent me fig preserves that were so good I didn't even share them with my girls.

We are a talented group. (grin)


    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 8:17PM
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As long as we're talking about beets, what the h*** are Harvard beets? I like beets okay, but are Harvard beets better than Yale beets? I was a graduate of a state school, so obviously I must bow and scrape before those Ivy Leaguers (hey, they've done a great job on running our country, haven't they?--lest you think that's a partisan political comment, our current president is Columbia/Harvard; Dubya was Yale/Harvard Business; Clinton was Georgetown/Oxford/Yale Law; Poppa Bush was a Yalie--and EVERY member of the Supreme Court is from either Yale Law School or Harvard Law School).

Are there any recipes from, say, Ohio State? I would trust that far more than an Ivy League recipe. Or, maybe Prof. Peter Schickele's employer, The University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople. (On the liner notes of a PDQ Bach CD I once read the wonderful statement that a 'milihelen' is the amount of beauty sufficient to launch one ship. Love it.)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 10:18PM
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Arley, I went to a state school too, so what do I know about Harvard? (grin) I did find this, though, from the
Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink by John F. Mariani, who says that the dish was created three centuries ago at an English tavern called Harwood's. Presumably, one of its customers, a Russian emigre opened a restaurant up in Boston under the same name in 1846. But since he kept pronouncing his restaurant's name like "Harvard," so the dish he brought from England became known as 'Harvard beets.'

Is that right? Who the heck knows, but I'm sure it has nothing to do with college. Or Ohio State. Or Ferris State either, although my own tiny little Ferris State University Bulldogs hockey team made it all the way to the Frozen Four this year, first time ever.

I don't think anyone from Ferris has ever been elected President, though.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 10:49PM
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I hated beets as a kid - love them now. I like canned ok. My favorite beet dish of all came from a friend from the Caucuses. I make my own versions now which would probably horrify his ancestors. They make a salad of beets, pomegranate and walnuts - beautiful and delicious.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 6:34PM
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I love beets. During the summer when the farmers markets are open, I buy one or two bunches a week. Sometimes red, sometimes, pink, and sometimes gold. When I was a kid my mom would buy canned beets -- regular and pickled. I liked them back then. But since roasting them myself, I think canned beets pale in comparison. I've tried boiling fresh beets and they taste about the same as canned. I wouldn't bother buying fresh beets if all I was going to do was boil them. But the roasted ones are wonderful. I just wash them well and plop them into a baking dish with a little bit of olive oil. I cover the top with foil and bake at 350 until done. Once they're cool enough to handle, the skins pretty much slip off. They're great by themselves or sliced in a salad.

The "toilet" effect doesn't bother us since we know what to expect.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 8:20PM
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I wonder if I did something wrong as the skins most decidedly did not slip off. Did I roast too long or not long enough? Interesting that you don't peel them, dcarch. It didn't occur to me not to but heck, I eat the peel on most other veggies so why bother? If I hadn't had to peel them, the effort involved woulds down about 90%.

Honestly, I didn't even compare the prices of fresh vs canned. (And by canned I mean the kind that come in a tin can not something I've actually created or processed my own self... I'm not that talented!) I will do so though and if the price warrants it, maybe I'll roast some again to see if they either peel more easily or are ok unpeeled.

Didn't think about adding them to salads raw either. So I might try that. I did save the green tops for salads, they're good.

Once I figured out what was causing the pink, I was ok. But it did mystify me a bit at first! So yeah, now that I expect it, I won't be astonished again.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 9:30AM
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Did you wrap them in foil? The peel is generally how I check if they're done- once it slips off they're good to go.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 9:46PM
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Nope. Just put them in a baking dish and stuck em in the oven. They were in there about 45 minutes on 325. (I was baking a brisket at that temp for several hours so it seemed like a good time to do the beets as well.)

I guess they should have baked longer?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 3:42PM
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Beets are one of the few things I will eat out of the can. When my kids were small they only ate them if I mixed a little ranch with them with the juice. Now that they are grown and married they still eat them that way AND their kids too

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 4:20PM
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I roast/bake beets in a casserole dish that's covered with foil. The beets are unpeeled but tossed with a drizzle of olive oil. I usually bake them in my toaster oven at 350 degrees, and it takes at least an hour. I actually don't time them -- just set and do other stuff. Eventually I start smelling them and check. I poke them with a skewer to see if they're cooked all the way through. Once they are cool enough to handle, the skins slip off fairly easily. The roasting without any added liquid makes them sweet and earthy while the foil baking keeps them from drying out.

I've never tried roasting them dry like potatoes, carrots, or winter squash. How does that turn out?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 10:41PM
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    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 4:42PM
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I just googled wirepaladin2000 and followed a link. I don't recommend doing that.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 9:00PM
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Nope, I wouldn't even have thought of googling that, LOL, and I'd have lost attention as soon as I had to go to another link. Short attention span.

Oh look, a chicken.

It might go with my beets, which I love fresh or canned, also pickled.

Seriously, though, thanks for the warning, FOAS. What the heck is happening around here anyway? Grrrr....


    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 9:03PM
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What's happening? Exactly what several "paranoid" folks warned would happen when GW hooked up with social media. We may be dinosaurs and resistant to change, but evidently we were right.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 9:49PM
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Yes, I kind of thought that was going to happen. I don't "do" Facebook, I don't Twitter or Tweet or text, but apparently I'm going to have to live with the results any way. (sigh)


    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 12:41AM
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I'm with Annie, I love beets and beet greens any way I can get them. I usually can pickled beets every year to use in salads and nothing beats a roasted beet (IMO).

We've been eating spring beet greens for the past few weeks as I've thinned out my beet seedlings in the garden. Yum!

Whenever I include beets on the weekly menu, I say we're going to get a visit from "Chief Red Butt" LOL! This recipe is my favorite beet recipe to date:

Roasted Root Vegetables with Horseradish Vinaigrette

2 large sweet potatoes
4 large parsnips (or carrots)
6 med beets
1 ý tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Peel potatoes and cut into cubes, peel parsnips/carrots and cut into slices, peel beets and cut into wedges. Toss potatoes & parsnips with oil, and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes & parsnips on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and sprinkle w/ salt & pepper. Toss beets with oil in separate bowl and arrange on a separate cookie sheet/pan; sprinkle w/salt & pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 ��" 25 min or until tender. Cool before adding vinaigrette.

Horseradish Vinaigrette

1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/c cup EVOO
2 T horseradish
1 T chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 T tarragon (fresh or ý T of dried)
1 T Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 ý tsp honey
ý tsp salt
ý tsp pepper

Whisk together all ingredients. Serve immediately, or chill up to 4 days.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 8:26AM
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Kathy, I'm happy to see you here again!

So, how is life going in your new digs? Growing stuff like crazy?


    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 11:15AM
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Fresh beets ARE more work than just opening a can, but I think well worth the effort. One of my favorite veggies and especially like them pickled. If it's cool enough to turn oven on, I just put in big packet of heavy-duty foil, drizzle with olive oil, and liberal amount of S&P... into oven till "done"... knive goes in/out easily.

I probably buy 3-4 bunches at a time (a dozen or so) and make it worth the time and "trouble". Once roasted and peeled, I stick them on this yard sale, spiral cutter and make into "spaghetti" strands... yeah, it is messy and I do end up with red-tinged fingers. Then I pour on the "pickle"... lately have been using Kraft Mango Chipotle "anything" sauce. I end up with a LOT of beets, so will put in half pint jars... not that much work and beats the heck out of housework!

As for "disgusting" veggie info. Love asparagus enough that its bathroom side-effect would NEVER make me stop eating it. Eat enough spinach (cooked or raw, fresh or frozen) and your poop ends up very DARK green for a few days. When friend's boys were young, ONLY cooked veggie they'd eat as carrots... also ate a lot of those "baby" ones as raw snacks... their SKIN took on an orangey tint... NOT harmful.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 3:43PM
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Garden girl, thanks for posting your recipe. I am picturing your horseradish vinaigrette on a sliced grilled steak salad this summer for a night when I don't want to cook indoors.

As for beets, I like them both fresh and canned and also as a base for pickled eggs, or "red beet eggs" as they're often called in our area.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 4:04PM
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I love fresh vegetables of any kind but when it comes to beets I would just as soon open a can than cook them because of the mess (maybe if I used the green part I would feel differently though). I love the Del Monte brand in beets and also - don't cringe - Del Monte green beans in a can. I was raised on all canned vegetables and those darn green beans just taste good to me.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 10:21PM
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The one veg I'll NEVER cook is beets. I really like beets - but either raw (grated with vinaigrette) or baked. Baking enhances and concentrates the sweetness of beets, whereas cooking waters it all down literally speaking.

I'm attaching a recipe that advises against so much as washing the beets prior to baking. It says wipe the dirt off the beets instead of washing them.

I myself haven't yet gone to such extremes (though I'm tempted now I've found this recipe). I do wash my beets, chop off the roots (as they always remind me of rat tails), wrap up the beets in silver foil and bake them for 2 hours at 250 celcius (480 Farenhait).

Baked beets are really nice with cream/roquefort cheese, but they also take kindly to vinaigrette. Baking them is really no more trouble than baking potatos.

Here is a link that might be useful: Baked Beets - the Purist Version

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 7:20AM
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Interesting to see this thread revived. I still do eat a lot of canned beets. Every once in a while I notice the fresh ones in the produce department and breifly consider buying some. But then I remember the pink/red fingers and come to my senses. I dunno, it's just too much trouble.

klseiverd, the "spaghetti" beet strands sound really cool, though.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 8:55AM
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Love beets. Always have fresh in the fridge and only buy when the greens look good and fresh for soups, salads etc. But i don't by canned anything. Always cook form scratch and fresh.
(my pantry does have a few things...coconut milk, some canned fishy DH likes, but not much)

When i pull out a half chicken from the freezer, from a grilling or smoking past event, i always start with a bed of beet, potato, cubed big chunks, garlic head, (top sliced off) toss in evoo and rosemary, roast 20 minutes, then add cubed sweet potato, red pepper, celery, etc...anything else i have...roast 10 more min, halved brussel sprouts, asparagus... then lay
the chicken on top to heat and crisp. Nearly once a week in the winter months.
I've never peeled them. Just a scrub and off with the end tail and root bit.

Beets are the star of my garden. Six varieties and one just for the green tops. Johnny's has a 'early wonder tall top' that i grow just for the greens. I plant too close together for much of a beet crop but i do get some babies in september. 1/4 lb of seeds for cheap. (third season on that same packet)

love all things fresh beets. Yeah i get some stains on the cutting board but goes away in a few days...last nights rhubarb/beet sauce for lamb sausage made a mess...but worth it!

The bathroom event is just a reminder that you are what you eat. My obsession with fresh habanero, (just a tiny bit has such a nice flavor), but much more eventful the next day! (haha)

Here is a link that might be useful: beet greens

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 10:52AM
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I read this thread when it was first revived and ignored it because of the spam. But now that it is fully awake again i'll add. On a fairly early post someone mentioned if you freeze beets they get watery and they do if you don't cook them first not just blanch but cook them. Then they freeze fine. I grow my own beets and freeze them all the time. I used to can them but my canner is a 2 burner and I now have a ceran top stove and am afraid to use it on there. So I freeze them now. This also works for me as nobody else in my family likes them so I can freeze in individual portions. I have never had raw beets so will give it a try this summer maybe with vinaigrette they will like it.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 11:13AM
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I forgot! But I did actually buy some beets to eat raw. I grated them and added to my salads. They were really good but again, everything involved turned red. I probably just need to look for other color beets!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 11:24AM
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Funny beet story. Don't be eating while you read.

Years ago my parents were going on a trip to reno with some out of town friends. They drove down the night before and had dinner ( fresh beets) then flew out in the morning. Sometime the group was separated each going to their own favorite casino's they were supposed to meet up later. But their friends never showed up. He had spent the day in emergency due to" blood" in his urine. Test after test they could not find what was wrong then someone finally asked what have you been eating in the last day. He started with the food from that day ...............then..........................He remembered the Beets.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 3:33PM
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CLBlakey, I've just read your post over lunch (I'm intrepid and it's lunch time now in Israel).

I don't remember it myself because I was too little at the time, but my mother told me the first time she ever tried to get me to eat beets - I guzzled them. Naturally, I peed RED. Naturally, she rushed me to the pediatrician, who was very old and experienced. She told him hysterically her little girl was peeing blood. First thing he asked her was what I had eaten recently and it all fell into place. She did hold it against me though for years and years afterwards :)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 5:49AM
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WinterCat- Everyone needs a family joke LOL Beets and Asparagus seem to fall into that category for our family. BTW I love your country. Hoping someday to go back again but not with a tour it was like watching a movie on fast forward.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 8:43AM
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My beets are barely up and now I can't wait to try that vinaigrette, Kathy (hi!) sounds wonderful.

Yeah I've scared myself a few times the morning after pigging out on fresh baby beets, even though I know better, lol.

Re: fresh vs. canned... I think fresh baby beets are special, but once they get big, there's not that much difference. I've been growing an heirloom mix which gives me a nice range of colors. We've just eaten them fresh or stored in the fridge, but I planted a longer row this year. Hopefully will get enough to try canning some different colors. Love golden beets I want to try the white ones. Not sure about the pink ones though. Trying to picture them on a plate with other food. Maybe for Valentine's Day. Or with pink mac and cheese...

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 10:36PM
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Mine are barely poking their heads out of the ground too. It has been a very cool rainy spring here. Only 2 of my tomato plants made it after transplant.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 12:52AM
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