Squeezing Blood Out Of A Beet

You can’t squeeze blood out of turnip but you can out of a beet. You have to be careful with beets in fact. They bruise easily despite their tough appearance and release juices from the slightest scratch. Beet juice will stain your clothes and is very difficult if not impossible to get out. Why is this?

The answer is very simple. The cellular structure of the beetroot is quite fragile and breaks easily under any kind of pressure, causing leaking. Boiling fresh beets with their skins on, however, greatly reduces this leakage however, so this tactic should be considered when preparing beets. For borscht, for example, leakage is desired to produce the magnificent blood red color associated with the soup, whereas if served as a side dish one may want the beets looking as red as possible.

Be very careful with beet juice when preparing raw beets as a grated garnish for salad. Raw beets in particular ‘bleed’ a lot, and as salads are generally prepared in a hasty fashion it is easier to stain one’s clothing this way.

There is no other vegetable that leaks its juices so dramatically and prolifically as beets do, though some fruits such as plums do. Even the juice from the tomato is fairly clear- it’s the pulp that makes tomato juice red. As far as root vegetables go, beets are odd indeed. I’m sure the juice would make a good dye, though I’ve never heard of that being tried. It would certainly make for a good marinade.

The last word in handling fresh beets is this: with caution. If you are going to be a host at a party remember that beet juice will stain the skin on your hands for hours and you can’t wash it off. So if you are going to shaking hands with a lot of people, it may make you embarrassed to extend a beet red hand out to your guests.

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