The sweet beet conundrum

Not parsnips. Sugar beet, albeit planted a little late so the tubers are smaller than commercially grown crops

The row of sugar beet may not be a gourmet delight. Mark likes to try different vegetables and I felt obliged to give this new crop a fair trial in the kitchen. The relatively low number of recipes on the internet was a bit of a giveaway. Along with a Canadian friend who described the crop as stock feed. Indeed a fair proportion of the recipes on line were for using the green tops, not the white root.

The first sugar beet root that he brought into the house, we tried raw and grated but it had a bit of an aftertaste. I used the rest of that one in a vegetable stock. Reaching for the internet,  the only recipe I could find that appealed was for sugar beet latkes. I am not sure if there is any fundamental difference between latkes, rosti, hash browns or plain old potato pancakes but the sugar beet version required grating and then salting. During this process, it turned greyish so that by the time I added the other ingredients, it bore a distinct visual resemblance to the New Zealand treat of whitebait. It did not, however taste of whitebait (a very small grey fish with noticeable black eyes, for overseas readers). Following the recipe, I added grated fresh ginger and a pinch of cardamom.

Looking more like the NZ fishy delicacy of whitebait – sugar beet latkes

When it came to frying the latkes, they browned much faster than the potato latkes cooked alongside. That will be the high sugar content. They tasted fine when cooked. Perhaps rather sweet for our taste, gingery with a hint of cardamom. But not good enough to convince me we should make it a dietary staple.

I might try just boiling a couple of beets in water to get a sugar syrup. But as we don’t eat stewed fruit, I can’t really think we need sugar water. The sugar beet crop may be a one-off crop.

4 thoughts on “The sweet beet conundrum

  1. Cath Sample

    Thanks for that information Abbie – I bought sugar beet seeds at one stage but never tried them. I think now thanks to your research I will stick with parsnips which are enough trouble, and beehives, which are rewarding in other ways.

  2. Robyn Wix

    Hi Abbie, try the salting in a crockery bowl. Think it reacts with the metal.
    Have loved following your travels and the beautiful gardens!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Well, thank you for that hint, Robyn. Though I thought stainless steel was inert? But it is not likely I will continue trying to render the sugar beet as tasty. Fortunately we can afford to be a bit picky. So glad you are enjoying the posts related to our travels. Though I am nearing the end for that trip.

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