At the start of last spring, I had some aging beets neglected in favour of the vibrant greens of the season. They had been sitting so long in my pantry that their once-green-ends had sprouted again. That’s how I got the sense of leaving these ends in water and in the sunlight for a little while to make them grow.
It worked quite as well as I expected : within a few weeks I got a handful of baby beet greens to use to my convenience. In case you’re not familiar with the stuff, these greens are frequently part of mixed baby greens around here, thus basically used in salads to which they lend a delicate earthy flavour. My favourite uses for them though, are in sandwiches or as an aromatic, especially in omelets.
Since tubers are in season again, I wanted to renew the experience, sort of to proof the method and be able to share it with you. It’s nothing complicated but needs a bit of patience and care (plus to find a place in your house well-exposed to the sun and out of the reach of pets if any !).
I have to admit home-grown ones aren’t as tender as the actual baby beet greens, and a bit smaller too, but they are a great way to avoid food scraps wasting as well as to have greens on hand ! All the more useful as winter’s approach means an upcoming shortage of greens…
Home-grown baby beet greens or shoots
1 bunch of small red beetroots with their greens
Don’t clean the beets unless you plan to use them the very same day or they would turn slightly mushy. Cut the greens leaving 1/2 to 1 inch on top of each beetroot. Cut their upper end so as to have a thin disc under the remaining greens (see step-by-step pictures above). Rinse them well and put them into one or more container(s). I have a preference for separate containers such as the 1/2cup yoghurt jars that you can see above, it allows to care about the growing greens one by one.
Add clear (tap) water to just cover the beetroot disc, up to the base of the cut greens. Place the containers on a windowsill or another sunny place of the house and let the magic of biology work. After a couple of days, if it isn’t too gloomy outside, some tiny yellowish leaves should start showing up at the center of the former greens. If not, this probably means you won’t have any greens growing on the concerned roots, but it’s up to you to try even though.
The water should be changed every two to three days. If molds appear, rinse the sprouting beet ends to keep them from developing. They won’t grow all at the same time, so when a few of them reach the size you consider big enough (I usually wait the time when the stem only keeps growing while the size of the leaf don’t change anymore, 2 to 3 weeks) you should cut and use them as soon as you can. The leftover greens would be ready to harvest in due course, within the 2-3 next weeks.
Rinse and dry them, then enjoy in salads, omelettes, sandwiches, patties, pancakes, and so on.
Lately, I combined them with a hummus and pomegranate molasses-marinated turnip strips in a sourdough baguette bread… should I make clear it was delicious ?