There are so many types of beet! The mighty beet is a superfood root vegetable that has very few middle-of-the-road fans. You usually find people declaring that they either love it or hate it. If you’re in the “love it” category, you may want to plant beets in your garden, but what variety should you choose? Well, there are many beet varieties to grow depending on what your beet growing goals are.
Some varieties focus production on large bulbs, while others offer both an edible root and delicious greens that can be harvested and cooked as well. In fact, Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris L var. cicla) is a type of beet that does not produce an edible root and only produces edible leafy greens.
There are many different types of beets to choose from, so for this reason, we’ll focus on the edible root-producing varieties. Even so, this is not an exhaustive list! This herbaceous vegetable is known for being cold tolerant which makes it a great choice for early spring gardens when the weather can still be cool and unpredictable.
For the same reason, beets can be planted in summer for an early fall crop. Many varieties have a long shelf life and were bred for long-term storage over winter. Because of their cold tolerance, they can also be left in the ground and harvested as needed throughout the winter.
Since they have a thick seed coat, it is advisable to soak beet seeds overnight before sowing. This practice will increase the likelihood that seeds germinate and sprout in a timely manner. One thing is for sure, digging up a beet straight from the garden just can’t be, well, beat!
Fresh beets have a sweet flavor unlike the varieties found on grocery store shelves that have been sitting in storage. They can be eaten raw, cooked, pickled, fermented, canned, or otherwise preserved or prepared. Not to mention the bonus crop of greens which are delicious sauteed or cooked in stir-fries. Read on to pick the perfect beet!
Red Types of Beet
There are many different types of beets, and many different reasons to grow beets. Classic red ones tend to be a good place to start. There are so many specialty beet varieties to choose from, ranging from heirloom varieties, to hybrids, and everything in between. For a table beet with the traditional earthy flavor that you’re used to finding in the grocery store, look no further than red varieties!
This mini variety is perfect for short-season growers. They produce small round roots that are harvested young, about radish sized. They produce baby greens that are equally as tender. Since these baby beets take up less space, it’s also an ideal choice for small-space gardeners.
This is a fast-maturing variety with strong tops. In addition to delicious roots they also produce dark green tops that are perfect for throwing into soups, stews, or a saute. They have dark red smooth skin.
These beets produce a deep red root that travels up the stems and turns into deep purple leaves. Bull’s blood is a great multipurpose beet that can be left to fully mature in 50 days, grown as beet microgreens, and everything in between. If you’re looking for versatile vegetables to add to your garden then don’t pass this one up.
As its name would suggest, these red beets have a cylindrical growing habit. Their shape makes them the best choice for canning and pickling since it is easy to get nice uniform slices without much waste. The Cylindra beet on average grows to be 5 inches long and 2 inches wide. Cylindra is also known as Butter Slicer due to it’s perfect size for slicing.
Detroit Dark Red
The Detroit dark red variety produces deep red roots that are most like the beet varieties found in grocery stores. This is a classic among beet cultivars and an excellent beginning beet to add to any vegetable garden. Their flesh has a succulent texture which is infused with a deep, sweet flavor.
If you’re looking for a beet that is ready for harvest in 40 days or less, look no further than Early Wonder! Their quick growing time makes them an excellent choice for areas with a short growing season. Additionally, they do well in early spring with their ability to germinate and grow in cool soils. These are also known as Nuttings Gem or Boston Crosby.
This variety is similar to Cylindra with its cylindrical or carrot-like shape. Just like Cylindra, this makes them perfect for slicing, canning, and pickling. Formanova beet is an heirloom cultivar originating from Denmark.
Lutz Green Leaf
This heirloom cultivar was developed before the days of refrigeration and is known for its long-lasting storage capabilities. For this reason, it’s also known as Winter Keeper. They can grow quite large, around 6 inches in diameter, and are ready for harvest in about 76 days.
These specific types of beet have remarkably smooth dark red skin – so smooth that it almost appears shiny. They have bright red stems that lead to dark green leaves. They produce 3-4 inch round baby beet-sized roots with a high sugar content.
This is a hybrid monogerm variety with dark red round roots. Beets are naturally a multigerm seed variety meaning that each seed contains the embryo for several (usually 2-3) plants. This generally results in the need to thin beet seedlings or choose to grow them in clumps. With this variety, no thinning is required, and each seed produces one beet seedling.
These types of beet produce deep reddish purple roots with a classic beet flavor. This is another monogerm variety that bypasses the potential need for thinning. These roots are best when harvested at a 1-inch diameter.
Red Ace is a reliable, adaptable, and fast-maturing beet with strong tops. Unlike other types of beets, it’s sweet and tender even when older. It has medium-tall, red-veined leaves for bunching.
This hybrid was developed specifically for harvesting at the baby beet stage. They produce short, upright green tops. If you’re looking for an abundance of greens, then look elsewhere. If small, tender baby beets are your goal, this is the variety for your vegetable garden.
These types of beet are excellent dual-use beets that produce tasty greens and uniform bulbs with a mild flavor. Ruby queen seeds can be sown thickly and then harvested as baby greens during the thinning process. Allow the remaining seedlings to grow to full maturity. These deep red beets also have deep pink inner rings.
These are a very early, round, dark red beet that is used in commercial production. It has a consistent size, shape, and flavor. These are similar to Boros but with smaller tops. They’re also highly vigorous and productive.
Warrior beets are tender and sweet, with a deep rich red interior and exterior. They’re a hybrid variety that’s relatively new to the vegetable market. The leaf stems are deep fuschia, and the leaves are a lovely green. They’re grown mostly for their roots, which mature in just under 60 days.
This variety has perfect flavor when harvested at any size. The fresh beets have smooth skin, a round shape, and minimal root hairs. These types of beets are fast-growing and early-maturing.
Golden Beets/Yellow Beets
Golden beets are a great choice for those who prefer to avoid the red staining of hands, cutting boards, and other kitchen surfaces during processing and/or cooking. Aside from this, golden types of beets also tend to be milder in flavor compared to the traditional red beet.
This golden variety is consistently delicious. They have deep yellow-orange rounded roots that are crowned with yellow stems and light green tops. They’re sweet when juiced or shredded into salads, and they’re also delicious roasted.
This beet produces stunning golden-orange flesh with bright green leaves. They have a mild flavor and are a good option for those who aren’t fans of the traditionally earthy flavor of red beets. It produces solid stems and tasty greens that hold up well when cooked.
This heirloom cultivar has been said to be one of the best beet varieties to grow for yield and flavor. It has smooth orange skin with a golden interior. It is sweet with a more mild flavor than the Detroit Dark Red. The greens are also delicious when cooked in stir-fries.
Also known as Mangelwurzel, mangel beet, field beet, fodder beet, or root of scarcity, the mangold beet was developed in 18th-century Germany as a fodder crop for livestock. These types of beet are useful if you’re growing beets as a cover crop to help aerate soils, but they’re also tasty in their own right. They boast a hearty flavor with tender green leaves.
These types of beets have deep orange skin and bright yellow flesh. They retain their color when cooked. The benefit of choosing this variety over other classic red varieties is that you won’t have to deal with stained red hands, cutting boards, and potentially clothes!
This heirloom variety was developed by the Burpee Seed Company in the 1940s. It boasts a sweeter and milder flavor and offers an early harvest. This variety will reach maturity in 55 days, quicker than the Touchstone Gold.
While there are many different varieties to choose from, multicolored beets offer the addition of visual interest to your garden. Plus, slicing into the beets is so satisfying when it reveals a beautiful pattern inside!
If you’re interested in an heirloom variety, give Chioggia beets a try! A personal favorite, it is also sometimes referred to as Bull’s Eye Beet or Candy Cane Beet because of its red and white striped interior.
The Chioggia beet has pale red skin topped by pale stems and light green leaves. The crispy greens can be harvested in about 50 days. Leave about ⅔ of the greens in place to help the beetroot continue to mature.
This Italian heirloom has a sweet and mild taste. Their mild flavor makes them a winner, even for those who claim not to like the taste of beets. Aside from the taste, their interior color is stunning, and when sliced thin on a mandoline, they can add a sophisticated touch to your salads. However, the stripes will fade with cooking.
White Types of Beet
White beet varieties are also known as albino beets or sugar beets since they are sweeter than their red, golden, and multicolored counterparts. Sugar from these beets is refined in much the same way as sugar from sugarcane, producing an indistinguishable product.
As its name would suggest, these beets have creamy white roots with interiors that are white as snow! They have the sweet flavor of classic red beets but without the bitter earthy flavor. Avalanche beets are perfect for eating raw in your summer salads.
This variety is similar to dark red Detroit and golden Detroit beets, except they’re white! They’re perfect for eating fresh, preserved, or roasted. They also have a milder, sweeter flavor than their counterpart dark red variety.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the most common type of beet?
A: Classic, deep red beets are the most common type and probably the type that you’re most likely to find at the local grocery store.
Q: What are white beets called?
A: White varieties are also known as sugar beets or albino beets. As its name would suggest, sugar beet is used to produce refined sugar as an alternative to cane sugar.
Q: Are beets a superfood?
A: Yes, they are considered to be a superfood as they contain above-average levels of manganese, folate, vitamin B2, and potassium. They get their deep red color from betaine, an antioxidant.
Q: What is the difference between beet and beetroot?
A: There is no difference, but the term “beetroot” is a UK term for the root vegetable, differentiating the root from the beet greens. The greens are also edible.
Q: Which beets have the best greens?
A: Early wonder is a great variety for gardeners who would like an abundant harvest of beet greens. It is ready for harvest sooner than other varieties and provides the opportunity to harvest beet greens sooner.
Q: What color beets are the healthiest?
A: Most colors of beets are about the same in terms of health benefits aside from the large white sugar beet. Sugar beets are grown for the production of refined sugar.