What is beetroot?

A favourite in 1970s British salads (cooked and pickled in vinegar), beetroot is a root vegetable with dark purple skin and pink/purple flesh. It has also enjoyed something of a deserved comeback in recent years – its earthy, rich, sweet flavour and vibrant colour lends itself to a variety of both sweet and savoury dishes.

Beetroot is a close relative of spinach and chard, and has good nutritional content – it's also reckoned to be a good detoxifier.

Read our guide on the health benefits of beetroot.

How to prepare beetroot

To cook whole, wash but don't peel, then cut the stalks to 2.5cm and leave the root at the bottom; if either are trimmed too much, the beetroot's colour will bleed. Bake in a low oven for 2-3 hrs, either wrapped in foil or in a little water in a lidded casserole dish. Alternatively, prepare it in the same way, then simmer for around 1 hr.

You can also eat beetroot raw, peeled and grated into salads and slaws, or finely shaved as a 'carpaccio'. Wash and trim the leaves to use in salads and or as a garnish.

How to cook beetroot

Roast, chop and dress with walnut oil and chives. Bake in olive oil and cumin seeds, then dot with feta and bake again. Boil for a few minutes, drain and serve with olive oil or butter. Juice from raw and mix with carrot juice for a vitamin-rich drink

How to store beetroot

Fresh beetroot will keep for several weeks in a cool, dark place. You can also buy vacuumed-packed cooked beetroot, which a great for pickling and roasting or simply chopping and adding to salads – these will last for several months in the fridge.

Availability of beetroot

July through January, tapering off during February and March. You can try growing it in your garden or allotment, as it's generally trouble-free. Read more about growing beetroot at Garden Action.

Learn how to grow your own beetroot from the experts at Gardeners’ World.

Choose the best beetroot

Raw beetroot should have fresh (not wilted) stalks and firm roots intact.