How I Freeze Beets

July 19, 2012

I’M SEEING LOTS OF RED THESE DAYS. Why? Well,  first because I’m obsessed with the current season of  HBO’s “True Blood.” And next,  because I’m busy harvesting and preserving my home-grown beets. Beets, I can assure you, are a breeze to freeze.

Beets, or Beta vulgaris, come in lots of interesting shades. There’s white ‘Albino,’ white-striped-red ‘Chioggia,’ and creamy-yellow ‘Gold.’ I happen to favor  ‘Detroit Dark Red,’ because it offers an earthy taste and aroma, along with blood-red coloring. You might say it’s a vampiric beet.

You can harvest beets about 55 days after planting from seed. However, I let mine grow for about 70 days, or until they reach baseball size, as pictured above.To preserve the roots, first trim off leaves (leaves can be blanched and frozen).  Keep at least a half-inch of the leaf-stems attached, however, or the beautiful color will bleed-out during cooking.

Should your beets bleed and attract a vampire to your kitchen, you’d better hope his name is Bill Compton. Bill has tremendous respect for mortals.  He’s content to drink “True Blood,” a synthetic version of the real stuff. The drink, which is available in various blood types (like O-Positive), permits vampires to live in harmony with humans.

Are you rolling your eyes right about now? I thought so.

Do not remove the  “tail” at the end of the bulb.

Next, scrub the beets under running water. I scrub mine not with a veggie-brush, but with a wash-cloth.

 

Set the scrubbed beets in a big pot of water; bring the water to a boil over high heat.  Then cover the pot and lower the heat. Simmer the beets until tender — about 20 minutes for small roots, and 45 minutes to an hour for large ones.

When are the beets done? When they can be stabbed with a wooden stake. Or, when they can be easily pierced with a fork.

Plunge the cooked roots into a big bowl of ice water for a few minutes, or at least until they are cool enough to handle. The ice water will loosen the skin on your beets.

Trim both ends with a knife, and then peel the beets.  Simply rub your hands over them, and the skins will slip right off.

How you cut up the beets is entirely up to you. Just be sure to cut them, as whole roots — in my experience, anyway — do not freeze well.

I happen to think sliced beets look pretty on a plate, so that is how I cut mine. The slices are 1/8-inch thick.

Now take plastic freezer bags — the one-quart size is useful for single servings — and label them as to content and date.  Don’t wait until after you’ve filled the bags to mark them — unless you like to write on bumpy surfaces.

Fill the bags with beets.

To avoid freezer-burn, expel air from each bag. An electronic vacuum-sealing device is useful here. But if you lack such a gadget, just do what I do, and insert a drinking straw at one end of the bag. Seal the bag all the way up to the straw. Then suck on the straw with all your might, remove the straw, and quickly seal the tiny opening.

Beets, when cooked, chilled, and properly sealed, will keep in the freezer for up to one year.

And what to do about your blood-spattered cutting board? Well, you could scrub it with soap-embedded steel wool. That is, if you want to waste your time.

A better plan is to rinse off the little beet-bits. Then set the board slanted downward in your kitchen sink. Slowly pour over the  board one cup of hot water combined with a splash (2 tablespoons) of liquid bleach, and voila! your board will show no trace of red.

Frozen beets are great to have on hand. When needed as a side dish, just boil them briefly, and then season them to taste. Remember, they’re already cooked!

Here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above freezing-procedure, which contains no talk of vampires whatsoever:

How I Freeze Beets
Kevin Lee Jacobs, A Garden for the House
1. Trim all but 1/2-inch of leaf-stems from beets; scrub beets clean under running water.
2. Set beets in a big pot, then add enough water to cover them.  Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover the pot, and let the beets simmer until tender — about 20 minutes for small roots, and 45 minutes to an hour for large roots. Beets are sufficiently cooked when they can be  pierced with a fork.
3. Plunge the beets in a big bowl of ice water for about 10 minutes, or until they are cool enough to handle.
4. Slice off ends of beets. Then peel them, by simply rubbing your hands against each beet.
5. According to preference, either slice or dice the beets. Do not leave them whole.  Whole beets, in my experience, do not freeze well.
6. Label zip-lock-type freezer bags as to content and date. Then fill the bags with beets. I like to fill quart-size bags as single servings.
7. To avoid freezer-burn, expel air from bags with a vacuum sealer. Or, insert a straw at the end of a bag; seal up to the straw. Suck the air out, remove the straw, and then seal the tiny opening.
8. Freeze for up to one year.

In the comments field below, I hope you’ll tell me whether or not you planted beets this year. And if you don’t like beets,  perhaps you can tell me which  vamp you favor most on the current season of  “True Blood.” Is it kind Bill? Hot but evil Eric? Sweet Jessica? Or Tara, who only recently acquired a set of fangs?

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Related Posts:
How I Freeze Zucchini
How to Harvest, Cure, and Store Onions
How I Freeze Peaches

Comments

  1. My favorite character is always Jason Stackhouse – an innocent disaster! Though I was almost swayed to Sam Merlotte when I recently noticed mounted staghorn ferns on the outside of his trailer on a recent episode.

    My favorite beet is ‘Bull’s Blood.’

  2. Laura W – Ha! Seems you watch films the way I do — always with an eye on plants! I saw ‘Bull’s Blood’ at Seed Savers Exchange…might order it for next year.

  3. beetree says:

    Mmmm…beets! I planted this year, but I’m not sure when to harvest (I’ll be looking that up next!). I’m hoping that the dirt where I planted my beets and carrots hasn’t turned to rock (we have California clay-type) so I can get my prizes out unspoiled. :) Thanks for the freezer tip. I also loooove to roast beets with sweet potatoes and onions, drizzled with olive oil, and finished with some salt and pepper. So good!

  4. Mary says:

    Hi Kevin–

    I really enjoy your posts! I have a love-hate relationship with just plain beets, but really go for pickled beets, so that’s what I usually do with early ones. I put the later, storage beets in a plastic bucket, layered in just barely damp maple leave and keep in the cellar with the carrots, potatoes, etc. They keep so well! Last fall, when cleaning out the buckets in preparation for refilling them, I dumped a pile of leaves out on to the compost and out rolled 2 softball size beets. They were still as hard as the day I put them in there! And that is after being in the cellar for almost an entire year, including the summer!

  5. Cary Bradley says:

    Thanks Kevin for the pink tutorial ;) . Just had our first (Chioggia) and diced and caramelized and finished with garlic, really great! My other favorite blogger Farmgirl Susan taught me that way. (I told her about you recently; you would really like each other, I think.) This is my first year my beets have ‘beeted up.’ Usually they stay bulbless and I just snatch and enjoy the tops. I used to get bags of beet greens from the Farmer’s Market, in the days before folks knew how great the tops are as a green. Now you’ve taught me how to freeze the greens and I am yearround veggie dense. Hooray for Beets! Hooray for You!

  6. stamperitis says:

    Love beets but they don’t always get a bulb. This year seems to be one of those years. :( However, the farmers market has three varieties. I must say I still enjoy Detroit Reds the best.

  7. beetree – Roasted beets are fab. Can’t get enough of them.

    Mary – I’ve heard of storing beets in a bucket of sand — but never in a bucket of maple leaves. Sounds like a grand idea, and one I should attempt with my autumn beet-harvest.

    Cary – “Diced and caramelized and finished with garlic”….Mmmmmm! And I will have to visit Farmgirl Susan.

    stamperitis – Nice to meet you. I’m with you on Detroit Reds.

  8. Bill Watson says:

    I froze beets for the first time last year. Am still enjoying them.
    At tip for slicing the cooked beets: Use a hard-boiled egg slicer. Perfect slices!

  9. Bill Watson – Egg-slicer: Good tip!

  10. Dear Kevin,
    I’m learning so much from you! I look forward to your newsletter every week, and save them all for future pleasure and reference. I really appreciate the “long version” with photos, as well as the “condensed version” of your recipes. You make my day.
    Martha Robinson

  11. And you, Martha, just made MY day!

  12. Beth says:

    I roasted my beets this year. Terrific taste and they kept their color. Cut off tops and tap and hairy roots, put them in foil pouch with evoo sprinkled on them. Roast for two hours, very easy to peel, then slice. They are so so sweet. Much sweeter than boiling….

  13. Laurie says:

    I love your newsletter and web site Kevin. I don’t particularly like beets though. But these pictures you have almost have changed my mind. They’re gorgeous! What I’d really like to ask you is about the paint (?) color of your arbor behind your beets. Could you tell me about how to get that color going at my Garden of Hope? Thank you for all you do!

  14. Janet says:

    Can you freeze them raw? If you just want to use them for juicing???

  15. KimH says:

    Im with you.. I prefer Detroit Dark Red beets… I dont remember them being so easy to freeze though.. I have some that need taken care of now so thanks for the timely post.

  16. Mary says:

    Delighted I finally have something to contribute to this fabulous site.
    Roasted beets are wonderful and very easy. Bake in two layers of alum. foil, seal well,keeps all the juices in. Wrap beets individually. Bake in 400 oven as long as you would bake a potato of the same size. Absolutely gorgeous in a salad.
    Love this site Kevin.

  17. Rita Galloway says:

    However, tempted you are to use blood and food in the same paragraph, please put me a warning sign before you start the article. It makes me queasy and I love beets. Planted some but they have been small. Maybe I should wait longer to harvest. Still love your blog despite the “blood” wording.

  18. Karyn Clark says:

    Loved the article on beets. We are getting ready to plant our second crop this year, pickled the first planting. This new harvest I’m going to try some roasted, may try keeping some over winter in a bucket also. I wonder, do you wash the dirt off them when you store them like that? I know with sweet potatoes you leave the dirt on them and wash when you are ready to cook them to make them last longer. BTW I love True Blood, I don’t get HBO but order the dvd set each season as it is released, have also read every book that Charlaine Harris has written on the series . I would have to say that Bill Compton is my fave vamp!! Love getting your blog!!

  19. Janet – You can certainly freeze beet juice. But I would not freeze whole beets in their raw state.

    Laurie – The arbor pictured up top is in my Herb Garden. It is made of unpainted cedar. After being exposed to the elements — rain, sleet, snow, and sun — the wood has developed a beautiful silver hue.

    Mary – I love roasted beets, too. Have you tried freezing the beets after roasting them?

    Rita – Didn’t mean to startle you!

    Karyn – I’d brush off any clinging dirt from the beets before storing them in a bucket of sand or leaves. But I would not wash them first. Nice to meet another TB fan!

  20. Leslie says:

    Kevin; My son has a smoker, and I grew the beets, he and his wife smoked them. They are absolutely delicious! Peel after smoking….
    I SO enjoy your website and your weekly newsletters. They are SO informative! I am just getting back into gardening after many years of raising children and animals. I LOVE my raised beds with composted alpaca and goat manure. Things grow extremely well in them.

  21. Leslie – I can only imagine how utterly delicious smoked beets must be. So glad you enjoy A Garden for the House.

  22. Deb Sanford says:

    Came across your website during a search on how to freeze fresh beets and just wanted to let you know that using a wash cloth instead of a veggie brush works so much better! Thank you so much!!!

  23. Deb Sanford – Nice to you meet you.

  24. Pat Kess says:

    I eat both the skin and the leaves, Nutritious and good!!

  25. Jody says:

    I love to saute beets with a bit of butter and add a tablespoon of lemon juice (to taste) and then toss in chopped up candied ginger. The ginger and lemon play off each other nicely and the sugar and butter combine to make a bit of a glaze. I can eat a plate full! Thanks for tip on freezing, I just finished cooking up the last of my garden!

  26. Thank you Kevin for the info on how to freeze Beets. I have harvested some of my beets and still have some in the ground to harvest. Did not know how to cook them . I live in Arizona . Very sandy soil, but my Detroit Reds grew very nice this year. Baseball size. I know I am going to enjoy them after being frozen. This is my first year on having a garden and I am enjoying it so much. I am going to try to roast some with the potatoes and onion with Olive oil . Sounds Delicious. I am looking forward to reading your articles about other garden vegetables. Thank you so much.

  27. Cindy says:

    I have adopted nieces and a nephew from Russia and they love borscht soup made with beets. The beets are boiled in the soup much like potatos are in potato soup. Any suggestions on how I can freeze beets and use them for soup?
    Thank you so much for this informative website. I am learning something new all the time!

  28. Christy says:

    Great information on an easy way to store beets! Thanks! Try peeling and slicing the larger FRESH ones to grill. Coat with olive or grapeseed oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper! FABULOUS!

  29. Thank you so much for posting this interesting article on freezing beets. I am thoroughly addicted to beets in any form. Either pickling them or juicing them. I wanted to freeze them to be able to juice regularly. They are plentiful at harvest time, but sometimes during the year difficult to find. Last year I pickled 50 + lbs. of beets for yearly consumption and they were delicious. I have since began juicing them and just love them in a smoothie. So good. Thank you again!

  30. Roseann says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I came across your website when doing a search on how long beets would last in the freezer. Your preparation method is exactly how my mom taught me, so I got that down, but I was alarmed when I read that whole beets do not freeze well! I just vacuum sealed my boiled and peeled beets but never sliced them! Should I open each vacuum sealed pack and slice them up before they go into the freezer??

    I love beets and want to enjoy them for as long as I can so if I have to open and slice, I will!!

    Thank you!

  31. Sharyn says:

    Hi Kevin,
    My husband loves the Detroit red beets and has quite a bunch in the garden. We live in north-western Ontario in Canada and our growing season is shorter. I don’t want them to go to waste so I am going to pull them all today and try it your way. If the vacuum packed beets can stay unspoiled for a year in the freezer, all the better. I am also going to try Bill Watsons trick using the egg slicer. I don’t have a wooden cutting board, all heavy plastic. Will your cleaning method work on them?

    Thanks for the great tip and wish me luck (I’m not that great of a cook

  32. Karen says:

    I love your post, not only because I now know I can just freeze my beets rather than canning them, but also because of your True Blood references throughout your explanation! I am of Russian descent so I grew up on beets and love them, especially in borscht and beet salad (pickles, dill, potatoes, vinegar, peas, beets)!
    I have always been a huge Eric fan after he has his hair cut after the first season :) I just finished season 6….love the Sookie Stackhouse Novels too!!
    Thanks for the fun intro to freezing beets!

  33. Jan Thomas says:

    I have a large crop of beets this year and was curious about freezing them. Afriend told me to just blanch beets for just a few minutes so the skins will slip off after put into ice water.is that enough cooking time? Why would they have to be fully cooked? I’ve done corn on the cob the same way and just seal-a-mealed them but I don’t want to waste or get sick if they’re not fully cooked:-) thanks for all the recipes on your blog hope to hear an answer soon cause I need to pull up my beets and get them raken care of.

  34. Sue Schroeder says:

    Beets are awesome!!!! This is only my 2nd year of growing beets. They are so easy to grow. I live in NW Wisconsin & my beets grow to baseball-size. I juice them with carrots, a whole lemon, pineapple, & greens during the growing season. Then I freeze the rest for roasting with sweet potatoes & onion as a previous post mentioned. Last year I froze them by first baking them in foil with a little evoo. That worked fine, but I think I’ll try your boiling method this year, then decide which way I like best. I’m also going to freeze the beet greens this year to use in green drinks. I froze 18 qts. of kale last week, so with my frozen beet greens too, I should be set for greens in my green drinks thru this winter. Now off to the garden to dig up those beets!

  35. Sheryl Graves says:

    My, what a fun website and commenting crowd! I, too, was just looking for a way to preserve the rest of my beets (here in Vermont we have had a couple of light frosts, but not enough to prevent me from removing the rest of my beets and carrots from the ground). I tried storing in sand in the basement one year (couldn’t get the moisture balance right and they dried out) and keeping them in the ground, covered with 6″ of straw (that worked for a while, but ultimately the ground froze like iron…poor beets…). So, this year, it’s time to freeze the greens and then the beets – it sounds so simple. (And I am more of a zombie girl than a vampire chick…but I haven’t seen “True Blood”…)

    Thanks for all the great tips!

  36. Christine Fisher says:

    Thank you. I haven’t frozen them before but will try this method. When I cook it normally I peel and slice them raw and cook in equal amounts of vinegar and water with some sugar and seasoning. Could you do it that way and and freeze them in liquid?

  37. Kate says:

    Very interesting and thank you for sharing! You have very nice penmanship!

  38. Walter says:

    I haven’t seen True Blood, but I want to thank you for the info ob beets. i love beets no matter how they’re cooked. A couple are spiced beet salad and Harvard Beets (hot). Because of illness i left the beets in the ground longer that I should have. Some of my beets looked more like melons. After I roasted them I tried them and they were still sweet. I found your recipe and now I will freeze some sliced and some cut into chances for Harvard Beets (those beets really should be small whole beets, But I use what I got.

  39. Sarah says:

    I have never watched True blood but this post just made me chuckle and had good info, Thanks!

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