Beets are a nutrient-packed root that boasts a robust flavor and beautiful, vibrant color—so it’s no wonder we love seeing them on our plate (hello, beet tartare). The only problem is they often go soft before we can savor their earthy sweetness in a salad or puree them into a nutritious smoothie. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: Here’s the scoop on how to store beets for extra-long shelf-life and un-beet-able freshness. (Sorry, we had to.)
How to Store Beets in the Fridge
Beets can last for almost a month (longer if you harvested them from your own backyard) when stored in the fridge. Wait, what? Yes, it’s true—it turns out this storage method just never worked for us because we were doing it wrong. The secret to keeping beets fresh for longer is to remove the greens, which accelerate their trajectory towards rot. So don’t just toss those purple gems into the fridge. Instead, take your beets from the garden (or produce bag) straight to a cutting board and chop off the tops to remove the beet greens (which are delicious when sauteed for a couple of minutes in a little olive oil, by the way). But don’t wash your beets until you’re ready to eat ‘em or they won’t last as long. Once the greens have been trimmed away, place beets in plastic storage bags and remove any excess air before sealing. (Don’t have a vacuum-sealing system? No problem. Just leave a small corner open when sealing the bag so you can insert a plastic straw and suck the air out yourself.) Store that bags of beets in the crisper drawer of the fridge and you’ll have about three weeks to make the most out of them.
How to Store Beets in a Root Cellar
A root cellar is a very useful thing to have, especially if you grow your own vegetables. This dark and cool spot is ideal for storing beets long term. To keep beets in a root cellar, simply remove the greens and bury the bulbs in a bucket filled with damp sand, peat moss or sawdust—just be sure the beets aren’t packed so tightly that they’re touching one another. Put a lid on the bucket to help keep in moisture, but leave it loose to allow for air circulation. Keep the sand or peat moss moist and check the roots from time to time, removing any that show signs of rot because one bad beet can spoil the bunch. When stored in this way, beets will stay fresh for up to three months.
How to Freeze Beets
Freezing beets is a good solution if you have more roots than you can reasonably eat in a month but for best results, cook the root vegetables in boiling water first. (Raw beets don’t take well to freezing.) Cut an inch off the top of the beets to remove the stem before placing them in a large stockpot filled with salted boiling water. Cook the beets until fork-tender (about 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beet), and when they have reached the desired texture, cool those babies down in an ice bath. Once your veggies aren’t too hot to touch, remove them from the ice bath and chop ‘em up according to your preference. Transfer the sliced and diced beets to plastic storage bags and remove the excess air before sealing the bags and storing them in the back of the freezer. Cooked, frozen beets will be good to eat for up to a full year.
RELATED: Beets Are in Season, and Here’s What to Cook with Them