Harvesting generally starts when the globes are about 5cm (2in) in diameter, about golf-ball size. If you want larger globes, thin the rows as they grow to give the remaining ones more space. We tend to pick ours on the smaller side as they are more tender. This is one of the joys of home grown vegetables, you can pick them when they taste their best rather than achieving their maximum weight or size for selling in shops.
The best way to store beetroot in their natural form is by lifting them and storing them in boxes. To do this, lift the roots carefully and cut off the foliage, leaving about 5cm (2in). Only undamaged roots will be suitable for storing, so remove any with visible damage. Pop the good ones in boxes that contain a moist medium, such as sand or leafmould. If your box is deep you might be able to get several layers per box. The trick to successful storage is to keep them in a cool, but frost free, environment such as a garage or shed.
If you’ve still got too many, then leave some to overwinter. The roots won’t be any good for harvesting but you will have delicious beetroot leaves to eat come the following spring.
The other way to store beetroot is by pickling them and storing them in jars. Pickling beetroot is very easy. Clean your beetroot, leaving a little of the stalk attached (to stop the juices running out), and then either boil or bake your beetroot. Boiling will take between 30-40 minutes depending on their size. If baking, wrap in foil either individually or all together and bake at 180ºC for about 1 hour.
Whilst the beetroot are cooking, prepare the vinegar. What you put into the vinegar is up to you. Go with the flavours that you enjoy. You can add peppercorns, coriander seeds, whole cloves, bay leaves, fresh ginger, mustard seeds, chilli, whatever you fancy. If you want a sweet pickle, then add some sugar. Simmer your vinegar (malt or wine) with the spices and sugar, if using, for about 10 minutes.
Once the beetroot are cooked, remove their skins and slice or dice however you like them. The thinner the slices, the more vinegary they will get. Place in a sterilized jar, cover completely with the hot vinegar mixture and seal immediately. Label and date your jars when cool. Leave for a few weeks for the flavours to infuse. The pickle should last a year at least.
Save some of your beetroot to make beetroot chutney. It’s easy and tastes great.
1. Growing Beetroot – QUICKSTART GUIDE to growing beetroot
2. Planting Beetroot – How and when to plant beetroot seeds
3. Harvesting and Storing Beetroot – How and when to harvest beetroot and how to store them
4. Freezing Beetroot – How to freeze beetroot and beetroot cake
5. Beetroot Growing Tips – Some tips to help you grow lovely beetroot
6. Beetroot Pests, Diseases and Problems – If things go wrong with your beetroot, help is at hand
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