Botanical name: Beta vulgaris conditive var.
Beetroot is present in numerous varieties, each with a different intended use: there is that of sugar, that of fodder (it is used for the breeding of livestock) and that of the vegetable garden, used as a vegetable. All qualities belong to the Chenopodiaceae family. The beetroot has heart-shaped leaves, with a length that reaches only 5-20 cm in wild specimens. While the flowers are very small and gathered in very thick spikes, the fruit is made up of rather hard nuts gathered in groups. Biennial herbaceous plant, it can reach 2 meters in height.
Origins and history
Beetroot was already known at the time of the ancient Greeks and was used as a food product and as a medicine. In the Middle Ages it was first cultivated only for the leaves and later also for the fruits, especially as regards the red variant. The widespread use of this crop is linked to the discovery that a sweet substance similar to cane sugar can be extracted from this vegetable.
It was only at the beginning of the nineteenth century that this discovery was applied in the commercial sector when, with the blockade of English goods decreed by Napoleon and therefore the importation of cane sugar, the French Empire ordered the production of sugar from beets. This method is also commonly followed nowadays.
Among the food varieties of beetroot,leafy vegetables and table vegetables stand out: the former are called "beets", the latter involve the consumption of tubers. Among the latter, the most common are the famous red beets, belonging to the Detroit variety. These vegetables also differ from each other in the color of the pulp; for example the Albina Vereduna variety is white, the Chioggia with white and red rings, the Red Ace bright red with red veined leaves and the Golden Burpee's has yellow pulp and red orange skin.
Nutritional and beneficial properties of beetroot
The plant has two edible parts, the leaves and the tuber. Speaking of the latter, it is characterized differently according to the variety: for example, Lutz Greenleaf can be kept for a long time without the flavor or quality of the vegetable being altered.
In any case, beetroot is a vegetable with great beneficial effects, rich in mineral salts, sugars and vitamins; in addition it has a high content of nitrates and therefore enhances muscle performance in a perfectly natural way. For this reason it is very popular with athletes, who in recent years have increased its consumption, especially in the form of juice.
In addition, beetroot, is a purifying product because it helps eliminate toxins from the body, restorative, antiseptic and stimulates the production of red blood cells and bile. For this reason, its regular consumption is recommended for people suffering from anemia. At the same time it treats infections of the brain system, strengthens the gastric mucosa, stimulates the lymphatic system and prevents the formation of calcium deposits in the blood vessels.
Uses of Beetroot in the kitchen
Beetroot has been used as a food product since the time of the Greeks and Romans. There are many ways of consuming. For example, it is eaten raw in thin slices or grated and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil or lemon juice.
In this case it can be combined with other raw vegetables such as fennel, cauliflower and carrots to prepare tasty salads. Alternatively you can cook the beetroot: you can boil it, cook it in a pan or roast it. In any case it takes on a dark red, almost purplish color.
Stewed beetroot can be served with red cabbage. Furthermore, this vegetable is widely used to prepare soups, vegetable soups and minestrone, especially in Eastern Europe: just as an example, borsch is mentioned, one of the most characteristic dishes of Ukraine, Russia and other Slavic countries.
In folk medicine, beetroot juice is used to cure premature menopause and menstrual cycle irregularity: it is recommended to take a glass every day on an empty stomach until the problem it does not resolve itself. In addition, the vegetable is used as a raw material for natural colors by the food industry.