Garden harvest time is here, and it’s one of the best times of the year. But since we can’t eat all of our garden produce at once, it’s when we start thinking about how to store the excess for later – in the easiest way possible. Which makes me wonder – can you freeze beets without cooking them?
Raw, whole beets don’t freeze well. Frozen while whole makes the texture grainier and grittier. Raw beet can freeze well without the noticeable texture changes if they’re first sliced, diced, shredded, or grated. Once frozen, raw beets can store in a deep freezer for up to a year.
Ready to get your beets stored without blanching or cooking them first? Keep reading – and we’ll do this together.
How to Freeze Raw Beets (without cooking them)
If you aren’t wanting to cook or blanch beets first, then the best way to freeze your raw beets is going to be to cut them up. Frankly, the smaller the better.
Feel free to cut the beets however you’d like to do it. If you need some ideas, here are some ways to prep your beets for freezing.
- Crush, pulverize, or blend*
Okay, so if you’re going to liquefy the beets, then you’re going to need to put that liquid into something. Personally, I like using an ice cube tray to freeze liquefied vegetables and fruits. That way, the juice stays contained, it’s in a small enough amount that it will freeze safely and evenly, and it’s in a usable amount whenever I want it.
But the key to freezing beets (and vegetables in general) is to cut them up into smaller bits. Why? Whole vegetables don’t freeze uniformly unless they’re cut first. And, frozen vegetables that aren’t cut up into small bits develop a grainy, gritty texture that’s off-putting when they’re thawed.
In any case, once your beets (or whatever other veggies you’re processing) are small enough, put them onto a cookie sheet (lined with either a silicone mat or a parchment liner) and stick them in the freezer.
If you’re freezing beetroot juice in ice cube trays (whether plastic or silicone-based), put those onto the cookie tray, too. Ice cube trays are notoriously wobbly, so having them on the half-sheet pan will make sure they’ve got the support they need to not coat your freezer in a beautiful, red ice sheet.
Don’t want to risk the wobbly ice cube trays or use your cookie tray? Check out the baby food making supplies – they have thicker, more solid trays specifically for freezing various food purees. Most even come with lids.
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How to Cook Beets for Freezing
Okay, so if cutting up all of those raw beets doesn’t appeal to you, you may be wondering if cooking them for freezing is the right way to go. You won’t have to cut them up entirely, no. You will need to trim the tops, though.
But for the sake of being thorough, let’s list all of the steps you’ll need to follow for prepping cooked beets for freezer storage.
- Sort beets by size. You’ll want to cook like-sized beets together to make sure that they cook uniformly.
- Trim the tops down, leaving about a half of an inch of stem and root tap. Leaving the stem and root tap (mostly) intact will prevent that beautiful, rich beet color from leaching out while it’s being cooked.
- Cook thoroughly. Beets should be tender when stuck with a fork. You can steam them, boil them, cook them in a pressure cooker (or an instant pot), or use a vegetable steamer.
- Cool the beets in an ice bath (or in cold water).
- If you want to cut them up more for storage, now’s the time to do so.
- Spread the cool beets into a single layer on a cookie tray (or another baking sheet of your choice).
- Freeze the beets. Once frozen, move the beets into freezer-safe bags or containers for longer-term storage.
So, if you want to skip all of the required cutting up of beets, then you’ll want to cook them. However, a whole (cooked) beet may still develop that gritty, freezer texture depending on how long you keep it in the freezer.
The best bet to skipping the freezer-based graininess is still going to be cutting up the beets.
Do Beets Freeze Well?
Beets can freeze decently well if they’re prepared properly.
But if you just chuck a whole, raw beet into the freezer? It’s not going to freeze or thaw well, no. It’s going to be gritty, grainy, and probably one of the less-awesome beets that you’ve ever tasted.
However, if you prep the beet for the freezer first – then it can freeze pretty well. And a well-frozen beet will store well for up to a year in a deep freezer (or several months in a regular freezer). Even better, it’ll thaw just fine and taste great when you’re ready to eat some beets.
Can You Freeze Canned Beets?
You could freeze canned beets as long as you first remove them from the glass jar. Glass jars and freezers don’t play well together. You’d want to make sure that you’re storing the canned beets still in their juices or brine (however you canned it). Just make sure they’re moved into a freezer-safe bag or container for storage.
But before you rush off to do that, let’s think about it for a moment. Because, while you can freeze canned beets, do you really want to? You’ve just gone through all of that work to can the beets – and they’re prepped for shelf-stable storage for several months.
Moving them to the freezer isn’t necessarily going to buy you any extra storage time. It’s just going to mean a lot of extra work. So, while you can freeze canned beets, I’d suggest that it’s not worth the extra effort.
Can You Freeze Grated, Raw Beetroot?
You can most definitely freeze grated or raw beetroot! It’s the same process as freezing beets. Refer to the “How to Cook Beets for Freezing” section up above.
While there are some assorted differences and similarities between beets and beetroots, that’s getting into the semantics. And this article isn’t about semantics – it’s about freezing beets (and beetroots).
How to Preserve Fresh Beets
There are a ton of other ways to preserve fresh beets – beyond just freezing them. Here’s a list of ways to preserve those fresh beets for you.
- Freeze beets raw
- Cook them to freeze them
- Can those beets
- Pickled beets
- Freeze-dry those beets
Now I want to go watch the clip where Samwise Gamgee explains all the ways you can cook potatoes, as beets can be just as versatile!
But first, let’s talk about one more way to freeze and store beets – by freeze-drying them!
You Can Freeze Dry Raw (or cooked) Beets!
If you are looking for a long way to store your fresh beets, then think about freeze-drying them. It’s a shelf-stable, longest-term possible way to store your favorite foods.
And the best part? It’s the exact same process as freezing them raw – with one extra step at the end.
- Stick your frozen beets (cut up however you like them) on the freeze-dryer trays and put them into the freeze dryer.
Or, if you’re cooking them first, then there’s two extra steps.
- Cut the cooked beets into smaller slices (so they’ll freeze faster and freeze dry easier) before freezing them.
- Once frozen, move them to the freeze dryer trays and stick them in to freeze-dry.
No matter which way you do it, it’ll take about a day for them to be completely freeze-dried. You’ll know they’re done when they’re so dry that they snap in half without much effort. You’ll have better luck with storage if you remove the freeze-dried beets on a warming cycle – that way you don’t accidentally reintroduce any moisture via condensation.
Once dry, stick them in a Ziploc baggie and squish all the air out. Store it in a cool, dry place for a day or two to test for continued dryness and moisture levels.
- If they aren’t still completely dry after a day, then they weren’t totally dried in the freeze-drying process. Or you live somewhere humid and water was reintroduced to the beets. You may be able to stick them back in, though they won’t store for as long (or as well). The safest option is to have beets for dinner.
- If the beets are still bone dry after that time, they’re ready to be sealed in a Mylar bag (with oxygen absorbers) for long-term storage.
Once stored, freeze-dried beets can last for years. They could even last up to 25 years in storage – and still taste absolutely delicious when reconstituted!
Freezing beets can be a great way to store them. Although, garden harvest season sure does fill up your freezer fast. That’s why I love having our freeze dryer – it lets me store “frozen” food on the shelf so that I’ve got room in the freezer for all the chicken nuggets my kids eat. And, unlike the nuggets that have to be in the freezer, I can store our homemade, freeze-dried foods in a lot of places – without risking their usability and safety as food.
That’s why I use and recommend the Harvest Right brand of freeze dryers. Click that link to check them out at their website. Or, if you’d like to read more about why I like them, check out how they rate on my list of the best food storage tools.
Can You Freeze Pickled Beets? Pickled beets can be frozen as long as they are frozen in the pickling brine. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 12 months.
Can You Freeze-Dry Bell Peppers? Bell peppers are ideal for freeze-drying! They can freeze-dry very well, especially if sliced into strips. Read my article on freeze-drying bell peppers for the 5 simple steps that will make storing bell peppers much easier and faster.
Are There Foods You Can’t Freeze Dry? Foods high in fat, oil, or sugar content won’t freeze-dry as well (if at all). Read my article here for a specific list of 17 foods that never freeze-dry (and 77 that work great).