If you like beets but cannot stand the earthy taste of the vegetable raw, try boiling them. Read on to learn how to prepare boiled beetsjust right so that you don’t lose valuable nutrients and flavor.
As a nutritionist, I recommend raw beets to my clients but many of them say they just can’t get raw beets down their throats. For these clients I recommend lightly boiling the vegetable with the skin on.
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Beetroots can be eaten raw but many people prefer to cook them because cooked beetroots are generally sweeter than raw ones. They can be steamed, roasted or boiled. Boiling is popular because it helps retain most of the nutrients and requires very little work.
Here is how to boil your beets to ensure you retain as many nutrients are possible.
- Cut off the stalks and tails making sure to leave at least 1 inch of stalk on to make sure none of the flesh is exposed. You will lose some nutrients, color and flavor if any flesh is exposed.
- Scrub the surface of the vegetable lightly with a potato scrubber. Be sure not to scrub too hard so that you do not break the skin and expose some flesh.
- Place the beets in a stock pot and submerge them with water, with at least 5 inches of water above them.
- If you want to add some flavor, add one teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of sugar to the water. This measurement applies for a half gallon (2 liters) of water.
- Cover the pot and leave to boil.
- Once they are cooked, remove them from the boiling water and place them in a pot of cold water for 5 minutes.
- Rub the skin with your fingers. It should peel off easily.
- Cut the boiled beets as required depending on what you intend to use them for. For salads, dice them into cubes. If you intend to stew them you can simply cut them into quarters.
How Long Do You Boil Beetroot For?
There really is no hard and fast rule as to how long beets should be left to boil. It depends on several factors including:
Size of the beets:Large beets take longer to cook than small ones. When boiling beets try to use beets which are approximately the same size. If sizes vary widely it will be difficult to have all of them evenly cooked.
Number of beets in the pot:If you are boiling a few pieces for one meal it will take a lot less time than if you are batch cooking for storage.
Personal Preference: Some people like to cook their beets but retain the crunch. In this case boiling time will be brief. If you intend to use the beets for a mashed dish, you will need to boil them longer so they are soft enough to mash.
Benefits of Boiled Beets
Improves Digestive Health
1 cup of beetroot contains approximately 3.4 grams of fibre. This makes beets a very rich source of natural fibre. Natural Fibre helps relieve problems like constipation by speeding up the passage of food through the digestive tract. It also helps to relieve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.
Helps in Weight Loss
There are about 43 calories in 100 grams of beetroot. A combination of high fibre and low calorie content makes beets ideal for weight watchers. One of the most difficult parts of dieting for weight loss is hunger pangs. Weight watchers can eat beetroot without having to worry about the calories while the fibre makes you feel full for longer so you don’t have to fight the urge to eat again for a few hours.
Helps Boost Energy Levels
Beetroots are best known for high nitrate content. Nitrates are converted into nitric oxide which is a dilating gas. It makes the blood vessels widen which improves blood circulation and oxygenation of cells. When cells are sufficiently oxygenated, energy levels increase. Energy levels are increased for a few hours after which the effect gradually reduces.
Helps Fight Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is a symptom common to various conditions such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and cancer. Beetroots contain an amino acid called betaine which helps to relieve inflammation. Although inflammation is a healthy, protective reaction, chronic inflammation can be extremely painful. Betaine, along with other phytonutriens in beetroots such as vulgaxanthin and isobetanin inhibits the enzymes which signal cells to ‘flame up.’
For anyone who does not like the natural, earthy taste of raw beets, boiled beets are the next best option. Beetroots can also be steamed or roasted but that requires more time and energy in the kitchen because you have to peel them. If you want to store beetroots for long, it is best to boil them lightly before freezing them. Freezing raw beetroots does not retain their natural taste and texture because they tend to get soggy when thawed.
Does boiling beetroot destroy nutrients?
The heat does destroy some heat sensitive nutrients but if you stick to brief boiling and keep the vegetable’s skin on you will lose very little.
Should beets be peeled before cooking?
Beet peels help add to the total amount of fibre you consume. Nutritionists advice against eating beet peels if the vegetable is not organically grown.
How can I tell when beets are cooked?
Check that you can insert a fork through the flesh. If it goes through easily, they are cooked. The skin should peel off easily when they are well cooked.
How long do cooked beets last?
If cooked beets are refrigerated they last between 3 and 5 days. To make them last even longer, freeze them in plastic, airtight containers or heavy duty storage bags.
Should you juice beets cooked or raw?
You can juice them in either form but nutritionists recommend juicing raw beets because you get all the nutrients including those that would be destroyed by cooking.