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Beetroots belong to the botanical family of Chenopodiaceae that have been incorporated in the amaranth family of Amaranthaceae. Blood turnip is an old-fashioned name for beetroot. Since the end of the 19th century it has barely been used. They are sold fresh, cooked and shrink-wrapped, canned, or pickled. Many people do not prepare fresh beetroots because they require a great deal of work. Nevertheless does the better taste of fresh beetroots make this work worthwhile. The beets are washed and cooked unpeeled in salted water for up to one hour. When using a pressure cooker, cooking time is reduced to 20 minutes. Then the beets are peeled and prepared as liked. When cooked beetroots are easier to peel and release less juice that stains hands and clothes badly. Nevertheless, if juice is released, it is an excellent food dye for homemade pasta.

Beetroots are available throughout the year. The main harvesting time is May to end of July. During this time beetroots can be bought with their leafs, which can be prepared like spinach and are rich in nutrients. Beetroots also have a high nutrient content, they are rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Unfortunately they also store high amounts of sodium. The sodium content of the beets varies according to the growing method. In organic farming it is lower than in conventional farming.

Chioggia is a beetroot variety grown in Italy. It shows beautiful red and white rings when cut across. The red colour of the beets is caused by the food dye betanin. In yellow beet varieties, as for example Burpees Golden, the colour is caused by betaxanthin. Some rare beetroot varieties are white. They are mostly grown by garden aficionados and are usually not available in stores. All beetroot varieties, no matter which colour, have a typical acrid and earthy taste that is caused by geosmin. New cultivars have been bred with a reduced geosmin content because many people dislike the geosmin taste.

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