Here’s a quick way to store your beet harvest for winter

winter beets harvested from garden about to be cooked

No matter how much you love beets (there’s a phrase I would never have written 15 years ago…) if you’ve grown a bumper crop this fall, you might find yourself wondering, “What am I going to do with all of these?”

You might start thinking that you have to spend an afternoon in your kitchen canning a big batch of pickled beets. Or you may wonder which of your neighbors is secretly a beet lover and would be delighted to receive a surprise bag of beets on their front steps this weekend.

But, what if I told you there’s really no such thing as too many beets? Would you believe me?

This is only true if you know how to store beets easily and quickly for use in savory recipes all winter long. I’ve harvested beets from my garden in late fall and was still using them fresh the next April and May. That’s over 6 months of storage!

Let me share my method with you, so you’ll never have to say, “I grew too many beets.” again.

fall beets from garden and how to store beets

How to store beets quickly for winter 

If you’ve grown a great crop of fall beets, the first thing to know is that beets are extremely cold hardy. They can survive in the garden down into the mid-20’s F and lower. (Here’s how to grow fall beets next year if you missed the chance this season.)

So, it makes sense to take advantage of the natural refrigeration of the fall and early winter weather and keep them outside in your garden as long as possible.

They’ll turn to mush if you let the ground freeze around them, so make sure you harvest the entire bed before that happens. Here in Madison, WI (zone 5a), I generally clear out my bed of beets sometime in November or early December at the latest.

When you’re ready for this step, here’s what to do:

Step 1: Harvest all of your beets. Brush off any excess soil back into the garden bed. I like to harvest all of mine into a crate for easy transport.

Step 2: Grab a pair of garden scissors and some plastic bags. You can use plastic handled bags, produce bags, or any other plastic bag you have around.

Step 3: Remove the greens from the beets by cutting them with the scissors pretty close to the top of the beet root.

beets and carrot from garden for winter storage

(Optional): If your beets are wet and muddy, maybe because it’s rained recently, or you have heavy soil, you may want to lay them out to dry before putting them into storage.

Spread newspaper or a tarp in a location out of the elements and freezing weather, a heated garage or your basement. Lay the beets out in a single layer overnight to dry and then continue with the remaining steps. Don’t leave them out too long or they’ll become limp!

Step 5: Transfer the beets into the plastic bags with the soil on. This is an important step! Do not wash your beets before storage. Many vegetables have a waxy layer that protects them, and if you scrub this off by with washing you’ll compromise their storage life.

Step 5: Poke a few small holes in the bags to let moisture and humidity escape. I’ve found this keeps the beets drier in storage so they last longer.

Step 6: Clear some space in a back corner of your fridge and transfer the bags of beets there. I usually store my beet harvest in the back part of the lowest shelf so they’re out of the way.

Step 7: When you need beets for a recipe, take a portion from the bag, scrub them off in a bowl of water, and use them. Easy peasy!

Step 8: Check the beets periodically to make sure none of them are rotting and infecting the rest of the bag. (You know what they say about one bad beet…?!)

garden beets ready to be stored for winter

I’ve had beets store with this method until the April and May of the following year. So long that by the time I got to the end of the bag of beets I was sick of them. (This must be why I never grow spring beets…)

You can also use this exact same process for storing your fall carrot harvest and they’ll last just as long.

Fresh, organic, local food can be difficult to find, and expensive to buy, in the winter. Growing your own crop of fall beets, and learning how to store beets easily yourself, gives you quick access to your own produce without having to make a special trip to the grocery store for ingredients.

And if you also store onions, garlic, potatoes, and carrots fresh in your house you have the makings of an amazing winter meal right from your own pantry.

Easy Food Preserving Book

 

Want more quick and easy ideas for preserving food?

I’ll teach you how to use your basement, fridge, and freezer to eat from your garden all 12 months of the year. Check it out here.

 

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