Favorite heirloom beet?

psittacineFebruary 12, 2011

I'm trying to do mostly heirloom vegetable varieties this year and can't decide from the information I've read between Cylindra, Bull's Blood, Detroit or Lutz Salad leaf (is this the same as Lutz Winter Keeper?). Has anyone grown more than one and how do they compare? The perfect beet for me would produce a good amount of greens, have great flavor when pickled, not turn woody when forgotten, and hopefully store well.

Any information on your experience growing your preferred variety would be appreciated.

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emmers_m(9a/Sunset 7 N Cal)

In my limited experience and highly subjective opinion :) it seems hard to beat Detroit Dark Red - I have grown it and Cylindra, and although I really did appreciate the ease of peeling/slicing the Cylindra it just didn't have quite the depth of flavor of the DDR.

I do hope to grow Lutz Winter Keeper this year (although Sandhill Preservation Center says they cannot find seed for the 'true Lutz') and I'll see if it rivals the DDR.

My impression is that Lutz Salad Leaf and Bull's Blood are grown primarily for the greens, so I haven't grown either.

My favorite for greens so far has been Chioggia, but I'm not growing them anymore because I dislike the beets, oddly enough, as everyone seems to like them. To me they have a sharp or acrid overtone.

So I'm going to try Lutz and will be keeping my eye out for a cylindrical beet with better flavor, but I'd have to say that my favorite to date is the Detroit Dark Red.

hope this helps!

~emmers

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 12:54AM
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psittacine

emmers, your experience with Cylindra was similar to the one time I grew them in the past. I remember that I too, loved how easy they were to prepare, and the plants grew and produced well here. However, that year my Pickled Beets w/Onions had little flavor and were washed out. I didn't like seeing the too-pink beets and onions in the jar. Just didn't look right! But, because of all the positive comments I have read from others that have grown them, I thought maybe they just had a bad year here, or I had prepared them poorly (not very likely my hubby insists), and was willing to give them another chance. After reading your comments, I think I'll just blame their inferiority on my soil, and give Lutz Salad Leaf/Winter Keeper a try this year.

With more searching, I found this bit of information from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: "Lutz Salad Leaf Beet. Quite possibly the best storage beet known. Top-shaped red roots with concentric lighter zones. Pink-stemmed leaves are renowned for use like chard, superb in salads. Roots remain tender and sweet even when grown to quite a large size, having reached 3-4 pounds! Also known as "Winter Keeper."

For me, definitely worth a try.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 6:18PM
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farmerdill

One of the best is an oldtimer from the 19th century. Blood Turnip. Crosby's Egytian is almost as old and is pretty good in its own right.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 10:07PM
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psittacine

farmerdill, nice looking beets there!

Baker Creek offers seed for Crosby's Egyptian also. Aren't they a beet that grows mostly on top of the soil? I think I decided against it because of that. Here in the high desert, the wind blows dry and we are at an altitude of around 5600', which makes for strong sunlight. Good conditions for a dehydrator, but can make growing things more of a challenge. One of the beets I had been initially looking at was developed from the Blood Turnip, but I can't remember which. B.T. is said to mature at a staggered rate, I believe, which isn't what I prefer for canning beets.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 12:50PM
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farmerdill

Most beets grow with top part out of the soil. The old varieties like Blood Turnip,and Egyptian are not as uniform in growth or maturity as modern varieties.But even Long Red ( modern versions are Cylindra and Formanova) grow with several inches above the soil line. The advantage of modern varieties including hybrids is that they are uniform. Once over harvest and fewer culls, important to a commercial grower. Bottom line; If you planted Crosby's or any of the other Egyptians side by side with a recent hybrid like Merlin,Kestral, Red Cloud, ... the amount of root exposed would be basicly the same.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 5:57PM
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soilent_green

Maybe my choices are uninspired but for me it is still the ubiquitous "Detroit Dark Red" for beets and "Bull's Blood" for tops. I grew up eating the Detroits thus they are the standard against which my biased tastebuds judge all others.

The fresh beets are always great. The only negative is that some years my processed ones have a strong "dirt" taste and I have never figured out why. I eat 'em anyway as I long for the return of the fresh just-out-of-the-garden jewels.

I have never had a bad fresh beet of any variety I have tried, some just better than others for various reasons.

-Tom

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 9:27PM
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