Beets are extremely healthy and delicious vegetables, perfect not only for kids but for adults also, we all love them! But when you’re first learning to like beets or learning how to store them, what’s the best way to store beets?
The best way to store beets depends on how they are to be used; fresh beets have the best flavor, while freeze-dried beets store for the longest amount of time. Storing beets will depend on what equipment you have available, the storage room, and your personal preferences.
Even so, storing beets has a lot of nuances and there’s a ton of information. So, follow us during this journey and become an expert on the subject of storing beets.
What’s the Best Way to Store Beets?
The best way to store beets is however you will use them balanced with how long you need to store them. Freeze-dried beets will last the longest, while fresh beets will go bad the fastest. If you will use dehydrated beets but not freeze-dried, store dehydrated beets and don’t freeze-dry any.
We will talk about the different possibilities of storing your beets, and since there will have a vast range of ways, you will be able to choose the best for you and your lifestyle.
So, glue your eyes on the screen, and don’t throw away any beet’s leftovers anymore!
First, we need to know how much time can beets be stored, because it doesn’t make sense to store them correctly but in an amount of time that they aren’t good anymore, right?
How Long Can Beets Be Stored?
Beets can be stored for different lengths depending on how they are prepared. Here is a table that presents different techniques for storing it and how long it lasts.
|How long does it last in top condition
|Open jar: 1 to 3 months
Sealed jar: 12 to 18 months
|Usually up to 5 years or more
|Up to 25 years
|1 to 3 months is best;
6 to 12 months can work
Since we’ve already been presented with some different ways of storing beets safely, right now we are going to show you which techniques you should use for short and long-term storage.
How To Store Beets Short-Term?
If you are expecting to eat beets quickly, then you don’t have to be concerned about a storage way that will last forever. Sometimes your fridge and a plastic bag (or a Tupperware container) are enough.
Here are some tips, so you will be able to store your fresh beets for some days until you eat them.
First of all, remove the stem and the greens from your beets, clean it up, removing all the dirt, but don’t wash it (we will talk about this later). Now, you need to find some clean plastic bags which can be sealed closed. Label the bag so you remember when you prepared it, giving you a better idea of how long it’s safe and when it’s not to eat the vegetables.
Next, put the beets into the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, because it controls the humidity and airflow around the beets. That will help them last longer.
Pro tip: don’t forget your beets inside the crisper drawer, or you’ll have a fridge-based compost system.
If you are aiming at long-term storage, keep your eyes on the text and read carefully the next paragraph.
How To Store Beets for Long-Term?
Beets can best be stored for long-term storage by freeze-drying them (up to 25 years), dehydrating them (5 to 25 years), freezing them (up to a year), or pickling them (for up to 18 months).
Some types of storage can last up to 30 years. But of course, you will not wait 25 years to eat your beets but it’s important to know that they will be safe to eat for a long time!
Usually, fruits and vegetables get rotten due to light, temperature, and microbial growth on them. As every process happens at the same time, it’s important to store these foods correctly; therefore, we need to have this piece of information.
What we usually do is avoid the contact of light and high temperature on vegetables, so that we can reduce the microbial growth on them. This microbial growth happens because these microorganisms feed themselves on the vegetables and fruits, and to avoid this, we recommend putting the beets in sealed plastic bags.
Keeping the vegetables at low temperatures also helps in this process, because some of these bacteria reproduce themselves quickly in higher temperatures.
Need a fun science experiment with the family? Pick three beets. Freeze one, keep the second one in the refrigerator, and leave the third one at normal temperature (outside the refrigerator).
Give it a few days, and you will be able to see how temperature impacts the beet’s shelf-life.
Please don’t eat any of the science experiments, especially if they’ve been left out for too long and you’re worried about food-borne illness.
Another thing that inhibits the growth of bacteria on the vegetable’s surface is removing the moisture from the food. This is something that can be difficult to do, but it’s possible!
That’s why dehydrated food lasts longer than normal or frozen food. Dehydrated beets are great, but they aren’t as flexible in all dishes. They do great in stews, though.
Of all the options, freeze-dried beets will give you the best long-term shelf-life while retaining most of the nutrients. It will also let you have the most flexibility when it comes to reconstituting the beets to use in cooking. When reconstituted right, they’re back to fresh beet status.
Should You Wash Beets Before Storing Them?
Moisture helps bacteria to grow on the surfaces of fruits and vegetables and removes natural protective layers. So, if you wash them, then you will not be able to remove all the moisture from the beets, and they will not last if unwashed beets will.
Another important fact is that some vegetables have a layer that protects them, so, they can survive a certain amount of time in nature and not be destroyed by microorganisms right after they have grown. So, it’s important to wash your vegetables right before eating them, but it doesn’t make sense to wash them before storage.
We’ve been seeing that it’s really difficult to preserve the integrity of beets and vegetables in general and requires a lot of knowledge of techniques and processes. This arises this question: How people were able to store beets before?
How Did People Store Beets for Winter in the Old Days?
In older times, beets were stored in root cellars under sawdust, hung to dry, dehydrated, or pickled to extend their shelf-life and freshness. However, today’s methods are generally a lot safer as we have better ways to remove moisture and oxygen to store food long-term.
Will you be surprised if I tell you that the techniques were very similar to those nowadays? They were all based on removing the humidity and putting some ingredients that prevent the food to rot. Let me explain more precisely.
As quoted in the paragraph before, the techniques were based on similar principles. The most common way to preserve the vegetables was by using salt. Salt can absorb food’s water, so this technique dehydrates the food, as we do nowadays.
It was also used as something similar to dehydration, people were used to heating beets just to remove their water, and so that, keeping them without moisture.
Another common technique was to use vinegar or something similar and sinking beets and other vegetables into it. Is this strange to you? Because for me is not! This is called pickling. And the high amount of vinegar when in contact with the vegetables prevents bacteria growth.
It’s important to say that these techniques were not only used for beets or vegetables, they were used also to conserve meat, creating the famous beef jerky that we know and love nowadays.
Alright, now you know the different methods and the science behind them, but how do perform the techniques correctly? We’ll show you!
Ways To Preserve Beets
Ready to preserve some beets? Here are some common ways with quick summaries of how to do so.
How to pickle beets
First, you will need roasted beets, choose the vinegar of your preference and bear in mind that the taste will change depending on the type of vinegar.
It’s recommended to peel the beets before pickling because the rough skin might be not good for eating. Boiling them makes the peeling easier.
How to dehydrate beets
You should slice the beets, so it would be easier to remove all the water inside them. Remove the stems and leaves, that way you will be able to dehydrate them separately.
You will also need a dehydrator or another type of machine which can remove all the water from the beets. Keep in mind that isn’t a quick process, it takes around 24h to complete.
How to freeze-dry beets
The process is similar to dehydration, but the equipment is totally different, and so is the technique. It uses a vacuum and cycles of heat and cold to remove all of the water and leave the food. It can be stored at room temperature for up to 25 years.
You can read about how to freeze-dry any of your favorite foods in this article of mine here: How to Freeze Dry and Store Your Favorite Foods: Guide with Pictures.
How to freeze beets
The best way to freeze your beets is to cook them before freezing unless they will have a lot of humidity, and the storage will be not efficient. It’s also recommended that you cut them before put in the fridge, so the water inside them will be frozen faster.
Freezing it’s the most common and practical way to store your beets because everyone has a fridge inside their kitchen. So here it goes some special tips about this process.
As said before, it’s recommended you cut them before cooking them, and to keep them better, you could sort them by size before the process, to make sure they get cooked at the same time. You will know when they are ready to freeze because they should be tender when stuck with a fork.
After cooking, cool the beets in an ice bath, to save time. After cooling down, spread the beet pieces on a baking sheet of your choice, so that, they will freeze separately and will not be stuck together, and will not make it difficult to cook them after.
Freeze the beets, and after they are completely frozen, move them to plastic bags where you can store them in a larger volume and for longer-term storage. When prepared correctly, your beets should freeze very well. But, if you don’t prepare them properly, they will not freeze that well, so the preparation steps are really important.
There is also a different way to store your beets, and it mixes both techniques, pickling, and freezing.
Can You Freeze Pickled Beets?
Pickled beets can be frozen, although they “cure” in the freezer rather than in a fridge or a cool place. Let them soak for a few days and then freeze them. There’s more to the process than this, but it’s easier if you already know how to pickle beets.
It can be an alternative to storing your pickled beets and it’s extremely easy if you already know how to pickle your beets. And since you are going to freeze it, you don’t need to let the pickle cure for weeks inside your refrigerator. You just need to let them soak for a couple of days and freeze them.
They can be stored for up to 12 months, so you can save them for special occasions.
Final Thoughts and Next Steps
As we could see, there are a lot of different ways of storing beets and other vegetables. It’s important to say that these techniques are not only specific for beets, they could be used for any type of food that gets rotten quickly.
These techniques use different ways to avoid bacteria growth on vegetables, removing the water, freezing or keeping them in an environment that is not favorable for bacteria growth, such as pickling. These ways to conserve food have been used since the old days, and it’s interesting to notice that they are still used nowadays.
And also, as quoted before, the safer and more practical way of doing it is freezing your beets, because you don’t need to have special equipment to do it, just a pan, a baking sheet, and your fridge. That way, you will be able to save your beets safely for a long time, saving a lot of money.
In any case, the next thing you should read is this other article on beets, so you can know more about freezing beets: Can You Freeze Beets without Cooking Them?
Learning from your own experience is essential, but learning from others is also intelligent. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- Huyck, Linda. “Using, Storing, and Preserving Beets.” Michigan State University, 12 Apr. 2012, www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/236/61444/Beets.pdf.
- Jaron. “Can You Freeze Pickled Beets? – Step By Step.” Foods Guy, 10 June 2020, foodsguy.com/freeze-pickled-beets.
- Lapcevic, Kathie. “5 Ways to Preserve Beets.” Homespun Seasonal Living, 11 Sept. 2019, homespunseasonalliving.com/preserve-beets.
- Merhar, Kara Zauberman; Recipe By Erin. “These Pickled Beets Are So Easy.” The Pioneer Woman, 2 Nov. 2021, www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/recipes/a36302704/pickled-beets-recipe.
- Starr, Kimberly. “Can You Freeze Beets Without Cooking Them?” Backyard Homestead HQ, 15 Jan. 2022, backyardhomesteadhq.com/can-you-freeze-beets-without-cooking-them.