Have you ever had that fright of thinking you’re peeing blood before remembering that you ate a load of beetroot a few hours before? I’m not sure of the mechanism by which the purple of the vegetable is transported to your urinary tract, but it can be a touch alarming if you’re absent-minded.

I loathed beetroot at school. Huge cannonball things, they were, with a dry, coarse texture, like hessian,  and disgusting, bitter, woody implants.

Those we ate at home were a different matter. They were small, the size of plums, soft and dense, their early sweetness particularly suited to swimming in butter.

That’s how I pick them now.

This years crop consisted of –

Top left:  Cheltenham Green Top – classic earthy sweetness; delicate texture. excellent all-rounder

Bottom left:  Egypt Turnip Rooted – dense, earthy, mild; not sweet.

Top right: Bulls Blood – firm texture; sweet; not much else

Bottom right: Sanguina – soft texture; not really sweet, not really earthy, not really anything much.

Boiled or baked wrapped in foil. Always with butter.

I can’t ever remember eating the leaves when growing up. I discovered how delicious they are, minerally like spinach but without the metallic after taste. The Italians have been using them to stuff a whole raft of pastas with them for millennia. Perhaps that’s not so surprising as the Romans were very fond of the leaves. They only developed a taste for the roots a bit later.


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