Beets: How to choose, store and prepare:

Farm fresh beets
(File photo / Los Angeles Times)

It wasn’t so long ago that beets came in one color -- red -- and the most familiar way of serving them was so pickled they tasted mostly like vinegar. You can find lots of colors of beets at the farmers markets these days and, even better, their flavors are incredible.

Besides the familiar red ones, you can find golden beets, white beets and even beets with a bull’s-eye pattern (these are Chioggia [key-O-ja], named after a town near Venice, Italy).

How to choose: Select beets that are heavy for their size and show no surface nicks or cuts. If they’re sold with their tops on, the greens are always a good indicator of freshness as they show wilting very quickly (plus the fact they’re delicious).


How to store: Refrigerate in a tightly sealed plastic bag.

How to prepare: To get the best flavor out of beets, roast them. Remove the greens, wrap the unpeeled roots in a foil packet, place the packet on a jellyroll pan and bake at 400 degrees until the beets are tender enough to pierce easily with a paring knife. Set aside until they’re cool enough to handle and the peels will slip right off (do not wear anything white; the pigment will stain like the dickens). Peel or quarter them and serve them seasoned with a little oil and vinegar, or blanch the tops and mix that in as well.