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Jan 7, 2011 11:47 AM

Canned Beets -- Talk to Me!

I had a craving for beets, and so made this salad with a can of sliced beets: Trader Joe's 21 Spice Salute herb mix, plus juice of one lime, plus a heck of a lot of fresh chopped cilantro. We're having it with yellow rice and tandoori chicken leftovers.

Had I been more diligent, I would have found and added that bit of sliced red onion that's being harbored as a fugitive in the fridge. I also contemplated balsamic, but figured that the lime was enough.

How do you dress up or otherwise enjoy canned beets?

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  1. Hi Alka: I must confess I do not feel any love for canned beets. I love fresh beets, when roasted, sauteed, etc. But the canned beets I've tried so far have been flabby, overcooked, tasteless, no matter how much masala I dump on them.

    Do you really like canned beets?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Rasam

      Canned beets are one of the few foods that sets off a gag reflex for me. I guess that's because I didn't like them when I was little but was forced to finish at school lunch or no recess. Got caught hiding it in my milk carton and was forced to eat it...took too big a bite and almost choked to death. More than 50 years later, I'm still iffy on fresh red beets but have come to almost love golden ones sliced and fried in olive oil.

    2. I love fresh beets, but not crazy for canned--but I haven't tried any lately and I've never tried TJ's. Your doctoring sounds good, esp. w/your tandoori chicken. And, yes, I always love red onion w/beets.

      1. Pickle them! Or buy some great home pickled ones.

        1 Reply
        1. re: randyjl

          Totes! I had a coworker who pickled canned beets. I only like them pickled.

        2. Canned beets are actually one of the few canned vegetables I can stand (the others being artichokes, corn, tomatoes, & shell beans like kidney, black, etc. Sometimes even tiny white canned potatoes can be good in a pinch.)

          I like to drain them, then heat them gently in some orange juice to which I've added a little orange zest & sometimes a tiny dollop of honey. Goes nice with plain baked or broiled poultry.

          They also pair nicely with goat cheese & chopped walnuts in a green salad.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Breezychow

            I totally agree with your list of canned vegetables (though I generally buy corn frozen over canned). I tried fresh beets a couple times over the summer, but the taste difference wasn't worth the hassle to me(or having pink fingers for days afterwards).

            Most of the pickled beets I've tried are a bit too sweet for my taste. I use plain and either add them to a garden salad or dress them with a little vinegar and add a bleu cheese or feta. If I have the time, I'll use my German potato salad recipe and sub the beets for the potatoes.

            1. re: Mestralle

              To keep your hands from looking like you were just arrested... find some other varieties, instead of the Bull's Blood. My personal fave is the Mangel... and Chiogga. I'm not a beet snob, though. While I will eat them from a can or raw, fresh from the dirt, I much prefer them roasted... with some spinach and goat cheese. :)

          2. I'm sure I'm weird about this...
            I love the little baby round canned beets, chilled to really, really cold, sprinkled with a little sea salt and eaten with my fingers! Not as good as fresh (which I also prefer cold). But, they'll do in a pinch.

            One of my earliest food memories is going to the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, KY... all dressed up in a ruffly dress. I begged to have some of the beets from my mother's plate. She told me I wouldn't like them, but I would not relent. So, she let me try them. They were what I think are called Harvard Beets... warm, in some sort of sweet/sour sauce. Blech! Mamma was right. I didn't like them. She knew I loved my beets cold, with salt, even as a toddler!

            8 Replies
            1. re: onrushpam

              Oh, shudder. I hated "Harvard Beets." I'd forgotten about those.

              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                Well, that was how I liked them best, only Mom called them "Dutch style". If she didn't have the time or the inclination she'd just heat them up with butter, salt and pepper. After I got older I came to like them cold in salads, especially with mayonnaise and some chopped egg. I think I must've been all grown up before I had fresh ones; we gardened, and my Grandpa Owen had a huge garden, but the only things we grew underground were potatoes, carrots and radishes.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  It is strange, Will, the tastes we remember and their associations. I hated almost any beets when I was a kid--they were all canned--but I especially hated any hot preparations. I could tolerate them cold, w/red onion and vinegar, but they weren't my favorite..
                  Now, I adore fresh beets, but, funny, I still always serve them cold. I think I need to try them hot.

                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                    They're in season at the SoCal farmer's markets now. We both love them; I like to do a sort of Root Roast with beets, carrots, parsnips and potatoes, and then braise some good greens and fresh handmade sausage from the Sicilian guy around the corner. Too warm to do that this weekend, but the winter's young yet …

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Ooh, if you don't mind my asking, what do you season your root roast with? I have odds and ends of all four of those veggies leftover and I had actually planned to roast them up together this week as a side dish. I was thinking thyme or rosemary as a seasoning, but if you have something you've had success with I'd love to hear it!

                      1. re: ErnieD

                        Fresh thyme goes great with a roasted root veg dish, as does sage. While I love rosemary on roasted potatoes, I don't know that I would enjoy it on beets. Perhaps I should give it a try, just to see how it turns out. Personally, I prefer to stay simple... fresh thyme, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Depending on which vegetables I use, I've finished them with chopped parsley... sometimes chopped fennel fronds, or cooled them a bit and served them over a bed of baby arugula.

                        1. re: VeggieHead

                          I use a combination of thyme, rosemary and parsley. Fresh, if I have it, or dried that's always in the pantry. It goes very well with beet-carrot-parsnip/turnip-potato roast.
                          Then I serve them warm with a little salt and pepper. Works every time.

                          1. re: healthybeet

                            can you say "beta-carotene"? wow, that looks delicious!