Are you thinking about freezing beets but not sure whether to do it raw or cooked? Beets are a healthy and versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes, ranging from salads to juices and even as a side dish. However, to keep them fresh and flavorful for longer periods of time, you need to know how to store them properly, including whether freezing them raw or cooked is better.
In this article, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of freezing beets raw or cooked. We’ll cover the various methods of freezing beets, how to prepare them for freezing, and the best practices for storing them. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information you need to decide which method is best for you.
The benefits and drawbacks of freezing beets raw
The main benefit of freezing beets raw is that it takes less time and effort. However, there are several drawbacks to consider as well.
Firstly, raw beets are prone to becoming grainy and losing their texture when frozen. This can lead to a less appetizing dish when you thaw them again and can make it less enjoyable for you and your family.
Secondly, raw beets have a shorter shelf life than cooked beets once they are frozen. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that raw beets should only be stored for up to four months in the freezer to prevent quality loss.
Finally, raw beets can be challenging to prepare for freezing. You need to chop them into small pieces and freeze them in individual portions as opposed to freezing them whole.
The benefits and drawbacks of freezing beets cooked
The primary advantage of freezing cooked beets is that the vegetables tend to hold up better in the freezing process. They maintain their texture and taste for longer periods, making them an excellent choice for meal prep or making them in advance.
Cooking beets also makes them easier to freeze. After boiling or roasting them, just let them cool, peel them, and chop them into the desired size, then put them in a freezer bag or container.
One drawback of freezing cooked beets is that they are more likely to lose nutrients during the cooking process. It’s worth noting that the nutrient loss is minimal and shouldn’t be a significant concern, as beets are still packed with beneficial nutrients and minerals even after cooking.
How to prepare beets for freezing
Regardless of whether you choose to freeze raw or cooked beets, there are specific steps you must take to prepare them correctly.
Begin by washing the beets in cold water and trimming off the leaves and stems. Once cleaned, peel the beets, and then chop them up into small bite-sized or diced pieces.
With raw beets, you should then blanch the beets in boiling water for about three to five minutes, then immediately chill them with cold water to stop the cooking process. Afterward, drain the beets well and pat them dry with a clean towel.
With cooked beets, you should let them cool before chopping them and placing them in a freezer bag or container. It’s important to place beets in a single layer, so they do not stick together and are easy to separate when it is time to thaw them.
How to store beets after freezing
Once you have prepared and frozen your beets, you need to store them properly. You should store them in an airtight container or a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible from the storage container before sealing it.
Raw beets can be stored for up to four months in the freezer, while cooked beets can last for up to eight months.
When it is time to use your frozen beets, you can let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator or defrost them in the microwave.
In conclusion, while it is possible to freeze beets raw, it is not recommended due to the texture and quality issues they might face. Cooked beets tend to hold up better in the freezing process, while also being easier to prepare. Regardless of which option you choose, it’s essential to follow the preparatory steps correctly and store them properly to ensure the best results and avoid spoilage. Freeze your beets according to the properly and enjoy the delicious taste of beets for months to come.
How do you prepare beets for freezing?
If you have a large harvest of beets, you may want to consider freezing some of them to enjoy throughout the year. Before you freeze your beets, it’s important to prepare them properly to maintain their flavor and texture. Below are the steps to prepare beets for freezing:
1. Wash and peel the beets: Start by washing the beets thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. Then, peel the beets using a vegetable peeler or a knife. You can also leave the skin on if you prefer.
2. Slice or chop the beets: Once the beets are peeled, slice or chop them into your desired size. Some people prefer to slice them into rounds, while others prefer to chop them into cubes.
3. Flash freeze the beets: After chopping the beets, spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Make sure the pieces are not touching each other. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer and freeze the beets until they are solid. This is known as flash freezing, and it helps prevent the beets from sticking together.
4. Package the beets: Once the beets are fully frozen, remove them from the freezer and package them in freezer-safe containers or bags. Be sure to label the containers with the date so you know when you froze them.
5. Return the beets to the freezer: Finally, place the packaged beets back in the freezer. They should keep indefinitely but are best when used within a year.
Preparing beets for freezing is a simple process that involves washing and peeling the beets, slicing or dicing them, flash freezing them, and packaging them in freezer-safe containers. By following these steps, you can enjoy the taste and nutrition of fresh beets even when they’re out of season.
Does freezing beets destroy nutrients?
Beets are known for their high nutrient content, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are a good source of fiber, folate, and potassium. Beets can be consumed in a variety of ways, such as raw, cooked, or even juiced. However, not everyone can have access to fresh beets all year round, so freezing them may seem like an option to preserve them.
But the question remains: does freezing beets destroy nutrients? In short, the answer is no. Freezing beets will not destroy their nutrient content, as most of their nutrients are stable when frozen. The biggest concern when freezing beets is that the process may alter their texture.
When beets are frozen, the water inside their cells expand and break the cell walls, resulting in a softer and slightly mushy texture when they are defrosted. For this reason, beets that have been frozen are best suited for purees, soups, stews, or other recipes that do not require them to be firm and crisp.
It is important to note that proper handling and storage of beets before freezing can also ensure that their nutrients are preserved. Beets should be carefully washed to remove any dirt or debris and then blanched, which briefly cooks them in boiling water, before freezing. Blanching helps stop the enzyme action that can cause beets to spoil or lose nutrients. It is also recommended to freeze beets in small portions that can be used immediately after thawing to prevent them from being refrozen and losing more nutrients.
Freezing beets can be a convenient way to preserve them and still reap the benefits of their nutrients. Freezing may cause a change in texture, but it does not destroy the nutrients present in beets. Proper handling and storage before freezing can ensure that the nutrients are preserved to some extent.
Can you freeze cooked beets with the skin on?
Yes, you can freeze cooked beets with the skin on. And the good news is that after thawing these roasted beets taste just like you cooked them fresh! Freezing beets is a great storage solution for when you have a large quantity of beets that you want to keep for a later time.
When it comes to freezing beets, it is best to start with fresh beets. Roast or boil the beets until they are tender. Once the beets are cooked, let them cool before you start freezing. It is important to note that you should never freeze beets that are not cooked as the texture will be completely ruined.
To freeze cooked beets, you can leave the skin on or remove it, depending on your preference. If you decide to keep the skin on the beets, simply place them in a freezer bag or container, and make sure it is tightly sealed. If you are removing the skin, you can peel the beets before freezing, or you can leave it for later. Either way, it is important to make sure the beets are completely cool before freezing.
When you’re ready to use the frozen beets, simply take them out of the freezer and allow them to thaw at room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, you can place the frozen beets under warm running water to speed up the thawing process.
Once the beets are thawed, they are ready to be used in your favorite recipes. You can use them in salads, soups, stews, and even smoothies. Freezing cooked beets is a great way to save time and reduce food waste while still being able to enjoy the delicious taste of fresh beets.