Fresh beet on wooden background

Cooking fresh beets with tops.

Wash beets and tops very well. There is often a lot of dirt still clinging if you grew them yourself. If you purchase them at the store then the prewash has been done. But never NOT wash them well again.

After washing cut the tops of the beets off about 3 inches from the beet bottom. Leaving the top on keeps the beets from bleeding out so much, and makes them easier to hold and finish peeling when cooked. Place water in a large pan, such as a stock pot. Put the beets in the water and bring to a boil. Boiling at a low pace will allow them to cook and not run out of water durning the process. Beets need to cook a long time until tender. If they are small ones it is much shorter time of course. But a 3-4 inch size beet will need some time.

After they are tender when a sharp knive or skewer is inserted in the largest one. Remove from the heat, and drain off the water. Be sure to let it cool slighty before you drain so as not to get steam burns to fingers. While this cooling down is taking place, add cold water to the sink, or a clean bowl or pan.

Next place the beets into the pan of cool water. Take each by the top you left on, which will be soft, and pull the top down toward the root with the palm of the hand. The peeling will then slip off the beet easily. Some pieces might stick, so just rub back over it with hand. Place the peeled beets into a clean bowl as you peel. They will still be warm, larger ones might still be hot. Be careful when peeling and wait till they cool enough to handle easily.

After the beets have been peeled and put into a serving bowl, if not serving right away, then place a lid or plastic wrap over the bowl. Before serving reheat them in the microwave with some added butter. They may be sliced also into many pieces if you need more servings. Do the slicing after they have cooled off completely.

The other half of the tops that you trimmed, can also be boiled until tender. Some of the juice from them reserved for reheating the beet roots. Then after the tops have boiled till tender, drain and place in a skillet with some oil and simmer a bit. Add to the tops a little salt if desired. The entire beet is edible, except the tough peeling.


  • Color the liquid of other foods with a small piece of raw beet. A small piece will add pink color to blended drinks. Just use a little bit.