Valley Bounty, January 18th, 2014: Beets

Beets are a rarely-celebrated marvel of New England agriculture, available almost every month of the year. Young, succulent, beets symbolize the new crops of early summer, but their winter cousins are one of the most hardy storage crops, maintaining their firm, flavorful flesh right through the winter. Roast or pickle them to top hearty winter salads—or just grate them, raw, and toss with grated carrots, goat cheese, nuts, and dressing. Find recipes for salads, an Olympic take on borscht, and a beet chocolate cake on the in our Recipes and


In January, we’re highlighting local beets and squash at retail outlets—find our list of participating retailers is here, and tell them you came for the local beets! You’ll also find local beets at winter farmers’ markets.


Borscht: I recently read a great Soviet food memoir, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking. The author, Anya Von Bremzen, and her mother prepared a meal symbolizing each decade of Soviet life, plus a few on either side. NPR asked Bremzen to comment on the 70,000 gallons of borscht that will be served at the Sochi Olympics, and her reply provides a good sense of the book’s caustic and loving take on Soviet life and food. There’s also a borscht recipe from Bremzen’s father, who remained in the Soviet Union when she and her mother emigrated to the US. Read about Soviet institutional borscht, Olympic borscht vs. Ukrainian borscht, and Bremzen’s mother’s and father’s versions here. You’ll have to read the book for the full story of her father’s borscht, prepared for Bremzen and her mother on their first return visit after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Salads: CISA’s beet recipe page contains several good salad recipes, or links to them on the pages of local farmers and bloggers.

Beet and Chocolate Cake: Hampshire College’s Sustainability Initiative launched a new approach to college dining last year, and an accompanying blog written by Sue Dickman. Her write-up of Nigel Slater’s Beet and Chocolate Cake is here (she’s a fan!).