When someone mentions beets, you probably think of the roots, but the delicious greens are growing in popularity. This nutritious vegetable is easy to grow and inexpensive to buy. Beets are among the first vegetables to arrive in farmer's markets because they grow well in cool spring temperatures and they are ready to harvest less than two months after planting. Read on to learn more about beet green benefits and how to use beet greens from the garden.
What are Beet Greens?
Beet greens are the leafy foliage that grows just above the beet root. Some beet varieties, such as Green Top Bunching beets, were developed just for growing greens. You can also harvest leafy beet tops from standard varieties of beets, such as Early Wonder and Crosby Egyptian. When growing beets just for the greens, sow the seeds 1/2 inch (1 cm.) apart and don't thin them.
Are Beet Greens Edible?
Beet greens aren't just edible, they are good for you. Beet green benefits include generous amounts of vitamins C, A, and E. A half-cup (118.5 ml.) of cooked beet greens contains 30 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C.
Harvesting Leafy Beet Tops
You can harvest a few greens now and save the beet roots for later. Just clip a leaf or two from each beet, leaving 1 to 1 ½ inch (2.5-4 cm.) of stem attached to the root. When you harvest the beets and roots at the same time, remove the greens from the root as soon as possible, leaving about an inch (2.5 cm.) of stem on each root. If the greens are left on the root, the root becomes soft and unappealing. Beet greens are best when harvested just before you use them. If you must store them, rinse and dry the leaves and place them in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator.
How to Use Beet Greens
Beet greens make a tangy addition to salads and taste great when combined with feta cheese and nuts. To cook beet greens, microwave them for seven to ten minutes or boil them until just tender. For a special treat, sauté them in a small amount of olive oil with minced garlic. Try substituting beet greens in your favorite recipes that call for greens.
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Jackie Carroll has written over 500 articles for Gardening Know How on a wide range of topics.
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