Heirloom Beets

I have found beets difficult to grow here, so I am pleased to have a decent crop this spring.  They just don’t grow well in acidic soil, and I have found that sprinkling lime on just after I plant the seeds helps them actually grow.  I grew out a beet trial this year, with five different varieties being tested:  Bull’s Blood, Crosby’s Egyptian, Golden Beets, Choggia, and Detroit Dark Red.  The Bull’s Blood makes beautiful leaves, but did not bulb very well.  Golden beets were lovely, but had a low germination for some reason.  This year’s favorites were Crosby’s Egyptian and the popular Detroit Dark Red.

Although this is a salad, the beets are actually roasted first.  I have made salads from raw, grated beets, but you just can’t beat a baked beet!  The roasting brings out the earthy flavors and concentrates the sugars.  They’re almost like candy, and my children literally fight over them!

This recipe is very simple, and does not have  a literal translation because it was taken from the bottom of another recipe as an alternative serving suggestion.  The ingredients are only beets, salt, pepper, and vinegar.  I highly recommend balsamic vinegar, although any good-flavored vinegar will do.


Les Betterave Beets


Les Betterave Beets


Les Betterave Beets


Les Betterave Beets


Les Betterave Beets


5-6 beets, washed and trimmed

salt and pepper

1-2 tablespoons good vinegar

  1.  R. Blondeau writes that beets are to be prepared beforehand by washing them well, trimming them, and baking them 3-4 hours in a low oven, or in hot cinders.  I generally don’t bake them so long…or have hot cinders to bake them in.  I usually trim off the tops and rootlets, lay them side-by-side in a baking dish, and bake for 45 minutes- 1 hour at 350 F until they are tender.
  2. Once the beets are baked, let them cool for a little while before peeling the peels.  They should be easy to peel with the help of a short knife.
  3. Slice the peeled beets into rounds, arrange them on a platter, and season with salt, pepper, and vinegar.

Heirloom Beets



{My grandmother, Claudia Meraud, was born in Nice, France.   She immigrated to the US after meeting my grandfather while he was stationed there as a US soldier in WW II.  We spent several summers together, just the two of us, living with her sister in Nice.  She passed along to me an old French cookbook titled  title is La Cuisine:  Guide Practique De La Ménagère by R. Blondeau, Chef de Cuisine.  It originally belonged to my great-grandmother, Lucie Thomas, who was a native of St. Marie-aux-Mines in Alsace.

This cookbook was published in the 1930’s, and was written as a practical guide for a household cook before the days of the fridge and the food processor.  The recipes are delicious, practical, and (of course) packed with good traditional nutrition.

I am creating translated versions of these antique recipes, re-written for the modern cook, and tested with home-grown and seasonal food.}


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