Simons Beetroot tips
Simons Beetroot tips!
Beetroot in season now
It’s the vegetable that keeps on giving. We all know that beetroot is a very healthy and tasty vegetable, it can be boiled, sautéed, roasted or juiced. It is one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen and can be used right across the menu, soups, starters, mains, puddings, cakes, and even drinks. Beetroot adds great flavour, texture and, of course, colour.
The humble beetroot is more than just a cooking ingredient, as you can see in these facts about beetroot:
Bet you did not know it, but beetroot is a hangover cure. Betacyanin, the pigment that gives beetroot its colour, is an antioxidant, so eating beetroot could be the key to beating your hangover. Betacyanin speeds up detoxification in your liver, which enables your body to turn the alcohol into a less harmful substance that can then be excreted faster than normal.
One of the earliest known benefits of beetroot is its use as an aphrodisiac during Roman times (perhaps why the Lupanar, the official brothel of Pompeii and still standing has its walls adorned with pictures of beetroots). It is not all folklore, beetroot contains high levels of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
Makes You Feel Better
Beetroot contains betaine, a substance that relaxes your mind and is used in other forms to treat depression. It also contains tryptophan (also found in chocolate) and contributes to a sense of well-being.
Beetroot has one of the highest sugar contents of any vegetable. Up to 10 percent of beetroot is sugar, but it releases slowly into the body, rather than the sudden rush that results from eating chocolate.
You can use beetroot juice to measure acidity. When added to an acidic solution, it turns pink, but when added to an alkali, it turns yellow.
Since the 16th century, beetroot juice has been used as a natural red dye. The Victorians used beetroot to dye their hair.
Wine! Beetroot can be made into a wine, it tastes similar to port.
Beetroot is a water-soluble dye, and hot water seems to ‘fix’ the colour stain more, so use lukewarm or cold water when washing to remove staining.
How to avoid beetroot stains
Cure “pink fingers” when cooking beetroot, rub with lemon juice and salt before washing with soap and water. With fabrics, try rubbing a slice of raw pear on the stain before washing, or rinse in cold water before washing with biological detergent.
Beetroot in Space
In 1975, during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, cosmonauts from the USSR’s Soyuz 19 welcomed the Apollo 18 astronauts by preparing a meal of borscht (beetroot soup) in zero gravity.
The world’s heaviest beetroot weighed 23.995 kg (51.48 lb.) and was grown by Jamie Courtney-Fortey, Gareth Fortey, Marjorie Fortey and Kevin Fortey in January 2019
Buying and Cooking
When you choose beetroots look for heathy leaves and a smooth unblemished skin, size is not important but the younger it is the better it tastes. Try all the different colours available, red, yellow, stripey. Never ever cut it before cooking – it will bleed and loose flavour and colour. Simply wash and boil in salted water until tender (this will vary a bit according to the age and the size of the beets). Allow 20mins to half an hour.
Large older beets are delicious basted with walnut oil wrapped in foil & roasted in a wood fire for 2 hours. Beetroots love piquant companions to compliment their sweet earthiness, citrus works really well, I’m personally not fond of typically ‘English’ sousing of beets in malt vinegar. The vinegar masks the mellow mineral flavour and is responsible for so many of us being put off beetroot as children.
Pair Beetroot with –
Wine – beetroot is one of the few vegetables that pair better with red wines than white.
Dairy – beetroot works with sharp salty cheese, try feta, goat cheese, blue cheese, vintage cheddar and parmesan. Yoghurt is another natural partner – I like crème fraiche too.
Pig -beetroot is delicious with salty, sweet pork, bacon and cured ham, eat with a claret from Saint Emilion
Citrus – sweet beetroot is complimented by lemon and lime juice and zest, my favourite though is orange or clementine, beetroot sliced with segments of orange, toasted walnuts, watercress sprigs and goat curd with a little walnut oil makes a great simple salad. One you must try is beetroot with pomegranate molasses.
Fish – Because of its high sugar content beetroot can be used to ‘cure’ fish. Curing is really cooking without heat and requires either extreme acidity or sweetness to denature the food. Beetroot is particularly good with salmon – but also try with other oily fish like mackerel or herring. Dry Riesling would be the wine to drink with this.
Beer – if you make Borsch try washing it down with an ice-cold pilsner
Herbs – Beetroots favourite partners are chives and dill – I like basil and tarragon too. Soft herbs rather than woody ones (though thyme works if roasting).
Staples -Pastry, potatoes, pasta and rice all work well with beets – some thought has to be put into colour bleeding as this will happen as soon as the beets are cut.