Roasting beets without foil is easy, in fact, it’s easier and less wasteful than with foil! I’m going to walk you through why aluminum foil may be something you want to avoid, basic beet nutrition information and how to roast beets without foil.
You're about to say goodbye to foil and hello to a sustainable, and healthier roasting method.
Let’s dive in.
Roast beets without foil, why?
So, aluminum foil is commonly used for cooking & packaging food, but there have been some concerns about its potential effects on health and the environment. It’s important to note that dietary intake is the main source of exposure to aluminum.
Studies show that the use of foil, particularly on acidic and highly seasoned foods, results in some amount of aluminum transfer to the food.
There are alternatives though, such as parchment paper or silicone baking liners. Plus, what I like to use, an enamel lined dutch oven.
Though some concerns are related to aluminum foil, the scientific consensus is that occasional use of aluminum foil is generally considered safe for most people. It’s always about the cumulative effect…which means everything in moderation.
How to roast beets without foil
Wrapping aluminum foil around a food helps to trap heat and keep the food from drying out. It’s an easy way to slow roast in a dry environment.
The alternative to foil, and even parchment paper and silicone liners (which I have my concerns about)... is using a dutch oven! Plus a little olive or coconut oil and salt.
A dutch oven is a heavy duty pot with a tight fitting lid, great for slow roasting. With this recipe we use the dutch oven to trap moisture in and slowly allow the beets to warm up.
Beets, like most root vegetables are primarily starch. Starch converts to sugar at a lower temperature, between about 135 and 170 degrees farenheit. Beyond this temperature range and you no longer have that conversion, which means less sweet beets.
To mitigate the temperature from climbing too fast, place a dutch oven into a cold dutch oven and allow the food and pot to warm together, allowing the food to stay at a lower temperature, longer.
You can choose to leave the lid on the dutch oven, which works great, or remove it the last 15 minutes or so to let the beets get a bit browned and roasty. Your choice, both are tasty!
Beets are almost synonymous with nitrates and athletic performance. But there’s more to a beet!
- betanin: Betalains are water-soluble nitrogen-containing pigments that are subdivided in red-violet betacyanins and yellow-orange betaxanthins.
- polyphenols: Polyphenols are compounds that are abundant in plants. They benefit many aspects of health, such as cardiovascular health, brain health, and eye health to name a few.
- flavonoids: A group of antioxidant plant compounds.
Additionally, beets provide:
- Vitamins A, C, E and K
Beets are truly one of earth's superfoods, and super tasty!
Why not peel beets before roasting?
Because, you don’t have to! As beets roast, their skins loosen and will pull off easily after removing from the oven. First, allow them to cool a few minutes, then simply slip off the skins with a napkin, or your bare hands if you’re good with doing some tie-dye! 🙂
You can choose to eat the peel, or remove it if it’s become leathery.
Ways to use beets
The sky’s the limit when it comes to beets!
Beets have a unique and earthy flavor that is often described as slightly sweet and somewhat similar to other root vegetables. When they’re cooked you may get a slight tangy flavor too.
Roasting beets can enhance their natural sweetness and bring out more caramelized notes, while pickled beets can have a tangy and slightly sour taste due to the pickling process.
Try this salad with roasted beets, greens and goat cheese, oh so delicious! Or try boiled beets in a smoothie with berries and bananas. The color of this is absolutely spectacular!
Plus, an easy way to add variety is to alter your cutting technique.
- Try slicing them thin with a mandoline and making chips in the oven.
- Spiralize them for a rich, beautiful grain free noodle
- Or, chunk them and atop your favorite greens!
Remember that beets can stain surfaces and hands due to their vibrant color, so wear appropriate clothing.
Want to watch me roast beets without foil?
How to use beet greens
Don’t pitch those greens! Did you know that beet greens are just as nutritious as their roots?! The greens contain vitamin K, fiber, folate, calcium and iron along with other phytonutrients.
Beet greens should be removed from their roots upon harvest to maintain the quality of both the root and green. Wash them with a salad spinner and use them as you would other salad greens, freeze them for smoothies or add them to soups.
If you choose to freeze them, blanch them first to stop the enzymatic activity and preserve more nutrition. I’ve also found that doing so helps reduce their brittleness. Otherwise, if directly frozen, plan for these greens to basically fall apart in your hands when pulled from the freezer.
How to store beets
If you purchase beets with the greens attached, or harvest your own beets, be sure to promptly remove the greens from their roots to preserve both in the highest quality.
Beet greens last a few days after being cut from the root, washed in a salad spinner and chilled.
Beetroot lasts about a week in the fridge, with the greens detached.
You can also freeze roasted beets, or blanched greens.
Can eating beets cause pink stools or urine?
Yes! Betalain is the reddish pink color that comes through in about 14% of the population's pee and poop after eating beets. This color is “processed” by hydrochloric acid, ferric ions and our gut bacteria.
Which leads me to wonder, does the 14% of the affected population have something explicit about their microbiome that others don’t? I couldn’t find the answer, but it’s worth pondering…
Nonetheless, from what is known, reddish pee and poop after eating beets is typically not a cause for concern. Let the beet go on, and on and on…… 🙂
How to Roast Beets without Foil
- Dutch Oven
- Chefs Knife
- Cutting Board
- Scrub Brush
- 4-6 Whole beets, golf ball size or slightly larger
- 1-2 tablespoon Olive Oil , coconut oil works too
- ~1 tbsp salt, such as celtic sea salt or Redmond's Real Salt
- First begin by removing the greens from the roots, set aside the greens to use like a salad.
- Cut the ends off from each side of the beet and brush with a scrub brush under cold running water to wash.
- Slightly dry with a paper towel and place in a enamel lined dutch oven.
- Drizzle with oil to cover and roll around in the bottom of the pan.
- Sprinkle generously with salt.
- Cover the dutch oven and place in the center of a cold oven. Turn the oven onto 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Set a timer for about 25-30 minutes. Once the beets are nearly able to pierce with a fork, you can choose to remove the lid for the last 15 minutes. Or, simply leave the lid on until the beets are golden brown and fork tender.
- Optional to use fresh herbs such as tarragon, thyme or rosemary
- Another great twist is to add to roasting carrots, sweet potatoes or fennel bulb. Just remember beets will dye the other veggies, so if presentation is important, roast them separately.
- Be sure to watch the video or read through on how to use beets besides as a simple side dish. The sky's is the limit!
If you’re interested in growing your own beets, here’s one of my favorite resources, all about sowing and harvesting beets.