Beets may not be your thing, but with the health benefits of beets being so great, it's at least worth taking a second look and perhaps Taste! One of our favorite ways to prepare beets (to increase their nutrient profile and health benefits) is to make fermented beets… you'll definitely want to try out the recipe I've got listed below 🙂 but first… check out what makes beets so great!
A few reasons why beets are awesome… aka: the Health Benefits of Beets
Beets are high in special nutrients and fiber!
Okay, so I know you have several options for getting vital nutrients and fiber into your diet, but beets are particularly cool because they are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. Basically betalains are super-antioxidants, they reduce inflammation, can decrease your risk of getting blood clots, reduce the potentially harmful kind of cholesterol, and aid the body in ridding itself of toxins.
Beets also offer a good amount of folate (especially needed during pregnancy), manganese (good for bones and vital organ health), potassium, and copper… and a fair amount of magnesium, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6.
Beets are super for an energy boost!
The nutrients in beets can enhance your body's tolerance to high-intensity activity, so you can exercise (or chase a toddler around!) longer than if you hadn't had your dose of beets! (source)
Eating beets can slow the growth of certain kinds of cancers!
Yep, you read that right.
According to a study done in 2001, Red beet products used regularly in the diet may provide protection against certain oxidative stress-related disorders in humans. (source)
There is still more research to be done, but the research so far has shown that there was a reduction in multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water… there was a particular reduction in growth in pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers. (source)
Beets can help lower your blood pressure!
This is particularly interesting to me since I've struggled with blood pressure regulation since I developed preeclampsia with my son two years ago. I haven't personally tested this out, and the data is limited, but a study done in 2012 showed that beetroot juice will lower BP (in men, at least) when consumed as part of a normal diet in free-living healthy adults. (source)
And the beet goes on…
While the health benefits of beets are really incredible in and of themselves, find out why fermenting beets increases their awesomeness…
If you are new to the fermenting scene… allow me to enlighten you. Fermenting is a fantastic way to preserve foods (particularly veggies & fruits), but that's not where it ends! Fermenting also increases several health benefits… like allowing for a greater bio-availability of nutrients (meaning your body can more easily absorb and use said nutrients) as well as increasing beneficial bacteria… so it seems like a no-brainer to me that we should be fermenting more stuff!
Fermenting foods is an art that most of us have lost touch with, and I, for one, am ready to start re-learning that art!
I've been dabbling with the art of fermentation for about a year now, and so far, I'm Loving it! It takes some time to get used to some of the new flavors (fermented veggies tend to have a tart or sour flavor, kinda like pickles), but knowing all the benefits, it's hard not to fall in love!
One of my favorite books on fermenting is Fermented: a four-season approach to Paleo probiotic foods. You can get it in paperback or a kindle edition. This is a seriously awesome reference for not only learning all about fermentation, but also about choosing fruits and veggies within their season to get the utmost nutrient bang for your buck!
Besides all of the valuable information inside… this book is simply gorgeous, the pictures are enticing and … (I'm looking at it right now and want to go ferment like Everything in my kitchen!) 😉
So… there are actually several different ways you can ferment beets (or any vegetable, for that matter), but since I'm generally pressed for time, I went for one of the easiest ways possible.
If you've never fermented anything in your life, it's Totally okay…this is a Great place to start!
Simple Fermented Beets recipe
Simple Fermented Beets Recipe
- Gently peel your raw beets, and rinse lightly. Your beets will already have good live bacteria which you need for the fermentation process... so no scrubbing!
- Thinly slice the beets, roughly 1/4 inch slices should be good.
- Mix salt in about 2 cups filtered water.
- Put the beets into your container of choice, and cover completely with salt-water mixture. Add additional filtered water if needed to completely cover the beets. Leave roughly 1-2 inches at the top, and use a fermentation weight (like this one) if need be to keep the beets fully submerged in the brine.
- Cover with fermenting cap of choice and let sit in a dark, cool place for 3-7 days. You can taste test about 3 days in and continue fermenting if you prefer it to be a little more tart.
My husband totally made fun of me while I was making this recipe and gushing over how amazing beets are… I said to him “honey, look how beautiful these are… isn't the color just Amazing, I mean seriously, it's so pretty and nutritious!”… He laughed and said I was turning into Dwight from The Office! Whatever… 😉
A few notes on fermenting:
~ Only organic will do when it comes to fermenting. Not only do artificial chemicals and pesticides affect the flavor and quality of your produce, but many of them are also known carcinogens and toxins that can affect long-term health (pretty much the opposite of what we're trying to accomplish here!). If organic is simply not in your budget, check here for the latest Environmental Working Group's list of the top “Dirty Dozen” produce items which are ones you definitely want to spend a little extra on to buy certified organic. (Remember, this really pertains most specifically if you're looking to ferment. The health benefits of beets themselves are still great either way!)
~ Same goes with filtered water. If you need to top off your ferments with a little liquid, make sure it's safe and doesn't contain chemicals, like chlorine and fluoride (prevalent in most city water supplies), which could harm your ferment.
~ It's best to use a vessel specifically designed for fermentation, but you don't have to. The process of fermentation causes gasses to form, which need to be released. You can put ferments in a closed vessel (like a mason jar), but you will need to be very cautious to essentially “burp” the container so the gas doesn't build up and explode out… this is a delicate process because not only are you worried about the gas releasing and the contents exploding out, but you risk compromising the somewhat-precarious integrity of the fermenting environment and ruining it all (not good!). The process is much easier with a container or lid that's designed to let the gas out and keep the good stuff in and healthy. Here are some of my favorite options for the least hassle in fermenting…
Kraut Kaps – you can use any wide-mouthed mason jar and put one of these babies on top and you're set! Love 'em!
Fermenting Crock – I don't have one of these yet, but am definitely looking to invest in one.
a Primal Pickler – this is essentially the same as the glass jar I used, but with the added benefit of a gas release valve already built in at the top!
Additional reference source for this article: Benefits of Beets (Dr. Mercola)