Can you eat beet greens? Yes, you can! Beet leaves are often overlooked as a “vegetable” but they’re perfectly edible. Good for you, even! Here’s how to preserve them as beet green powder, along with several other ideas for utilizing this overlooked source of nutrients.
Try making this fermented beet kraut with the roots!
So often we cut the green tops from root vegetables and send them off to the compost. These greens, though, are often perfectly edible. That’s the case with radish greens, and it’s true of beet leaves as well.
If you’re growing beets, the greens can be harvested when they’re young and used as “baby greens” in a salad. (The crop needs to be thinned anyway, so no waste!) At this stage they’re quite mild. Full grown beet greens have a characteristic beet flavor and can be sautéed much as you’d prepare any greens. They can be used in other ways, too!
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1. Cooking beet greens
Much like other greens, beet leaves can be cooked and served as a vegetable side dish. Your imagination is the limit.
- Boiled: Add clean leaves to a pot of boiling water that’s been salted. Cook for two minutes, then drain.
- Steamed: Place leaves in a metal steamer. Put an inch of water in a pot and set the steamer inside. Bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes or until tender.
- Sautéed: Heat a couple tablespoons of your favorite oil in a frying pan. Add a clove or two of crushed garlic if you like. Put several handfuls of beet greens into the hot pan and stir; cook until wilted.
- Baconed: 🙂 Cook several slices of bacon in a frying pan until they’re crispy. Remove bacon and crumble it. Add beet leaves to hot pan and cook until wilted. Stir crumbled bacon in and serve.
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2. Make beet green powder
One way to use beet tops is to preserve them as a dried powder. This powder can be added to smoothies (great during the wintertime dearth of fresh veggies!), stirred into salad dressings, and used in soup. See the recipe below for how to make powdered beet greens for long-term storage.
Here’s what I found, though. The amount of green powder that results from a full dehydrator is — at least in my opinion — not worth the extensive drying time required and the power used to fully dry the greens.
I’d use an alternative method. Either air dry the greens if your climate is hot and dry enough (mine’s not) or dry them in the heat of your vehicle. Yes, that’s right. In your car. This will allow you to dry a lot of beet greens at once, making the effort more worthwhile.
3. Make a beet greens smoothie
Make your favorite smoothie, but sneak in four or five beet leaves. Beet greens disappear beautifully; this a perfect way to incorporate more veggies into the diet. I made a banana-blueberry-pineapple smoothie with the greens and my then 15-year-old said, “Ooh, that’s a good one.”
Success! If your people are super sensitive, start with just one or two leaves.
4. Make chips
I figured, if it can be done with kale, why not beet tops? Clean the leaves and tear them into large pieces, removing the ribs. Dry thoroughly and toss with a tiny bit of olive oil.
I used about a teaspoon of olive oil on greens from four beets. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with coarsely ground salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the greens are crispy. The beet leaves turn brownish fairly quickly; they are not a pretty snack (they look more like crispy fall leaves than something edible), but they’re tasty.
5. What to do with the stalks if you like pickles
While I didn’t pickle an entire batch, I cooked some stalks until they were crisp tender and tucked them into a jar of my dilly green beans. Cheating, yes, but I think you could use the dilly green bean recipe replacing the beans with beet stalks and it would work out just fine.
6. Toss them into a salad
The leaves of the beet are surprisingly mild and tender, making them a great addition to a salad – with homemade salad dressing, of course! Give this strawberry & beet green salad a try if you’re wondering what to do with beet greens!
7. Stir fry the stalks
I have to admit, I didn’t like them this way, but neither do I like Swiss chard. My husband, who is a fan of Swiss chard, thought the stir fried stalks were great and very similar to Swiss chard.
★ Did you make this green powder? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★
- 8 cups beet greens, loose (from about two bunches of beets)
- Thoroughly wash and dry beet greens. Remove fleshy stems.
- Place raw beet greens on dehydrator tray or a cookie sheet lined with a towel.
Drying the Beet Greens
- To use a dehydrator: Set temperature to 100 degrees. Dry until greens are crispy. (About 6-to-8 hours.)
- To dry in your car: Place trays of beet greens in a closed vehicle that's sitting in the warm sun. Dry until greens are crispy.
- To air dry: Place trays of beet greens in a warm area, out of direct sunlight. Dry until greens are crispy.
Processing the greens into powder
- Place dried beet greens in the bowl of a food processor or blender.
- Pulse to break up large greens, then process until you've achieved a fine powder.
- Store in an airtight jar.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 8Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 85mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 1g
Originally published in June of 2011, this post has been updated.