I know a lot of folks aren't all that excited by this vegetable however they were a good and hearty vegetable that preserved well through the winter months. The information that follows comes from "Science in the Kitchen." ©1893
Description. — The beet is a native of the coasts of the Mediterranean, and is said to owe its botanical name, beta, to a fancied resemblance to the Greek letter B. Two varieties are in common use as food, the white and the red beet; while a sub-variety, the sugar beet, is largely cultivated in France, in connection with the beet-sugar industry in that country. The same industry has recently been introduced into this country. It is grown extensively in Germany and Russia, for the same pose, and is also used there in the manufacture of alcohol.
The beet root is characterized by its unusual amount of sugar. It is considered more nutritive than any other esculent tuber except the potato, but the time required for its digestion exceeds that of most vegetables, being three and three fourths hours.
Preparation and Cooking. — Beets, like other tubers, should be fresh, unshriveled, and healthy. Wash carefully, scrubbing with a soft brush to remove all particles of dirt; but avoid scraping, cutting, or breaking, lest the sweet juices escape. In handling for storage, be careful not to bruise or break the skins; and in purchasing from the market, select only such as are perfect.
Beets may be boiled, baked, or steamed. In boiling, if the skin is cut or broken, the juice will escape in the water, and the flavor will be injured; for this reason, beets should not be punctured with a fork to find if done. When tender, the thickest part will yield readily to pressure of the fingers. Beets should be boiled in just as little water as possible, and they will be much better if it has all evaporated by the time they are cooked.
Young beets will boil in one hour, while old beets require from three to five hours; if tough, wilted, and stringy, they cannot be boiled tender. Baked beets require from three to six hours.
Baked Beets. — Beets are far better baked than boiled, though it takes a longer time to cook properly. French cooks bake them slowly six hours in a covered dish, the bottom of which is lined with well-moistened rye straw; however, they may be baked on the oven grate, like potatoes. Wipe dry after washing, and bake slowly. They are very nice served with a sauce made with equal quantities of lemon juice and whipped cream, with a little salt.
Baked Beets No. 2.— Wash young and tender beets, and place in an earthen baking dish with a very little water; as it evaporates, add more, which must be of boiling temperature. Set into a moderate oven, and according to size of the beets, bake slowly from two to three hours. When tender, remove the skins and dress with lemon juice or cream sauce.
Beets and Potatoes. — Boil newly matured potatoes and young beets separately till tender; then peel and slice. Put them in alternate layers in a vegetable dish, with salt to taste, and enough sweet cream nearly to cover. Brown in the oven, and serve at once.
Beet Hash.—Chop quite finely an equal quantity of cold boiled or baked beets and boiled or baked potatoes. Put into a shallow saucepan, add salt and sufficient hot cream to moisten. Toss frequently, and cook until well heated throughout. Serve hot.
Beet Greens.— Take young, tender beets, clean thoroughly without separating the tops and roots. Examine the leaves carefully, and pick off inferior ones. Put into boiling water, and cook for nearly an hour. Drain, press out all water, and chop quite fine. Serve with a dressing of lemon juice or cream, as preferred.
Beet Salad, or Chopped Beets. — Cold boiled or baked beets, chopped quite fine, but not minced, make a nice salad when served with a dressing of lemon juice and whipped cream in the proportion of three tablespoonfuls of lemon juice to one half cup of whipped cream, and salt if desired.
Beet Salad No. 2. — Chop equal parts of boiled beets and fresh young cabbage. Mix thoroughly, add salt to taste, a few tablespoonfuls of sugar, and cover with diluted lemon juice. Equal quantities of cold boiled beets and cold boiled potatoes, chopped fine, thoroughly mixed, and served with a dressing of lemon juice and whipped cream, make a palatable salad. Care should be taken in the preparation of these and the preceding salad, not to chop the vegetables so fine as to admit of their being eaten without mastication.
Boiled Beets. — Wash carefully, drop into boiling water, and cook until tender. When done, drop into cold water for a minute, when the skins can be easily rubbed off with the hand. Slice, and serve hot with lemon juice or-with a cream sauce.
Stewed Beets. — Bake beets according to recipe No. 2. Peel, cut in slices, turn into a saucepan, nearly cover with thin cream, simmer for ten or fifteen minutes, add salt if desired, and thicken the gravy with a little corn starch or flour.